What Are the Best Volunteer Programmes in Europe?

Each year, thousands of people travel to Europe to take part in volunteer programmes across the continent. Travellers can visit their chosen country to volunteer in activities like teaching, conservation, childcare, construction or working with animals. We’ve found the best volunteer programmes in Europe, so you can see the world whilst also contributing to the community.

Once you’ve found your programme, find out what you need to volunteer abroad.

Marine conservation in Spain

It’s predicted that by 2025, there could be more plastic than fish in the sea. The marine conservation volunteer programme offers volunteers the opportunity to contribute to clean-up efforts to reduce ocean pollution in the Mediterranean Sea and help protect the marine environment, all whilst gaining extensive scuba diving and conservation experience.

As a volunteer in this programme, you’ll collect trash from the sea, learn about the marine ecosystem and how to protect it, and observe and identify marine wildlife. Plus, in the summer you can help children from disadvantaged backgrounds learn to dive and protect the environment. You’ll stay in a modern, environmentally conscious hostel in Barcelona with like-minded individuals and you’ll also have the chance to take Spanish lessons while during your stay.

You won’t need to have prior scuba diving experience and you can attain a dive certification as part of the programme, so you can safely take part in all activities.

You can volunteer in Spain from one week to 12 weeks. Costs range from around £109 a day for one week, £80 per day for four weeks, and £73 per day for 12 weeks.

Volunteer with an NGO in Croatia

Another popular European volunteer programme is the creative technology volunteer programme based in Split. Here, you can employ your existing skills in web development, graphic design, photography, videography, marketing and digital communications to help local NGOs in Split design and implement campaigns. When you volunteer in Croatia under this programme, you’ll be able to create infographics, design brochures, build animations, shoot and edit videos, as well as many other creative projects.

Currently, these NGOs cover a range of issues, including women’s rights, gender equality, marine conservation, environmental issues and animal protection. By participating in this project, you can help increase the reach and exposure of these important campaigns and encourage the local community to take action. At the same time, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in Croatian culture and explore the beautiful Adriatic coast.

You’ll need to have proven skills, training or experience in this field, so make sure to include all relevant qualifications on your application. You can volunteer in Croatia under this programme for two to 12 weeks and up to four hours per day will be dedicated to volunteering.

Care for bears in Romania

For many years in Romania, bears were hunted for trophies or forced to entertain strangers in the street or circus. These bears were kept in cramped conditions and often abused by their owners. However, the bears are now being rescued and cared for in Europe’s largest bear sanctuary that houses over 100 bears. With the bear sanctuary volunteer programme, you’ll have the opportunity to help care for these animals.

As a volunteer, you’ll help with food preparation, and observe the bears to ensure they’re adapting well to their new surroundings. You’ll help keep the sanctuary to standard with basic maintenance work, and you’ll also look after the other rescued animals that live at the sanctuary, such as dogs, horses and donkeys. Whilst you’ll, of course, be expected to work hard, you’ll also have plenty of time to just enjoy watching the bears in their habitats, as well as socialise with your fellow volunteers and the local people.

The volunteer programme in Romania runs for one week, with longer stays available between May and October. Prices start from £1,245 and includes accommodation in a shared apartment or hotel.

Teach English to young people in Poland

Since 1990, Global Volunteers has been helping young people in Poland learn English – the language of the world’s marketplace. There is now a large Ukrainian community in the area, and the project has expanded to teach these children too.

Taking part in the teaching English volunteer programme gives you the chance to teach conversational English in school classrooms or summer camps to Polish and Ukrainian children. You’ll stay in safe and comfortable rural accommodation and can taste authentic Polish cuisine. During the summer camps, you’ll be encouraged to embrace your inner child with skits, games, songs and field trips.

You do not need any formal teaching experience to participate in this programme, as the children learn through exposure to the language with native speakers. Groups and families are easily accommodated and welcomed on to the programme.

Climate action in Italy

Climate change is one of the biggest problems that we face as a society. With the climate action in Italy volunteer programme you can help to tackle the issue. You’ll take part in a range of seasonal activities, such as planting trees, working with climate NGOs, collecting rubbish, and maintaining plants and trees.

Taking part in this volunteer programme will add value to the local community by tackling climate change and spreading awareness of the issue. You’ll also have the chance to practice your Italian by connecting with the local community and gain conservation experience.

You’ll be based in the suburbs of Rome, so you’ll have the opportunity to explore the capital city in your downtime. The you can volunteer from two to 12 weeks, staying in a camping lodge with breakfast and dinner included.

Volunteer with refugees in Greece

Another popular volunteer programme in Europe is volunteering with refugees in Greece. Athens has welcomed many refugees over the past few years due to instability in neighbouring countries. There are now a number of hose centres in the city where refugees can stay until they can be reunited with family members.

Volunteering on the Sports and Arts with refugees project gives you the opportunity to work with teenagers and children, using sports and arts to encourage them to express themselves and connect with each other.

Sports activities will include daily training, games, and teaching healthy eating. Arts activities will feature music, photography, drawing, drama, and many other creative pastimes. You’ll gain educational experience and directly help refugees to learn new skills and build bonds.

The programme lasts from four weeks to 12 weeks. You’ll stay in a sustainable hostel in the centre of Athens, with plenty of free time to explore the city. Prices range from £51 per day for four weeks to £46 per day for 12 weeks.

When you volunteer in Europe, you’ll need travel insurance to ensure you’re covered for every eventuality. Expatriate Group has a range of travel insurance policies, whether you need insurance for one specific trip or annual travel insurance to keep you covered if you’ll be volunteering in Europe in multiple destinations. Get a quote online today.  

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