Spotlight on Volunteering

Volunteering and Coronavirus/Covid-19


There’s a high chance that volunteering will be far from people’s minds at the moment, and that’s completely understandable. Being healthy, and keeping loved ones safe, will undoubtedly be at the forefront of everyone’s priorities and our thoughts are with anyone who has been affected by the virus. However, we wanted to share some advice about how you can negotiate this period and how students can continue to contribute to their communities. In relation to all of the below we strongly recommend you follow the advice that’s been provided by Edinburgh University Students’ Association and the UK government and do not take undue risks with your personal health. 


What about my current volunteering? 

In light of the rapidly changing situation and impact of Covid-19, you may find that your volunteering is being postponed or cancelled. Ensure that you look out for communications from the organisation/s you are volunteering with – they will likely provide information on what the next steps are. If they have not been in touch with you about this, please get in touch with them. Bear in mind that they may be receiving a high volume of queries at this time and may take a little time to get back to you.  


We recommend all students discontinue volunteering in-person at this time. Help yourself and others by following the UK government’s advice to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and stay at home during this time. 


If you decide to discontinue volunteering, that is understandable, and it is your right to make that decision. Please communicate this clearly with your organisation and give them as much notice as possible.  


How can you help? 

With the ongoing Covid-19/Coronavirus outbreak lots of people are offering their help to those who may be in need of assistance in these difficult times. If you are continuing to, or thinking about volunteering in person, Volunteer Edinburgh (Edinburgh's local volunteering centre) has created Guidance and FAQs for volunteers in light of Covid-19 - please read this carefully. 


Supporting communities during Covid-19

We are currently in the process of speaking to partners and will add relevant opportunities to the list below as we receive them.


It is expected that foodbanks, community groups and those helping the elderly to be most in need and donating items or money to these groups could make an invaluable difference. Follow their social media and websites to see if and when they are looking to recruit volunteers. 


Keep yourself safe while helping others - you must follow government guidelines!


Here is a list of ways you can help your community:

  • Sign up to support the COVID-19 response through your local council, Volunteering Centre or food banks. For Edinburgh, check out:

  • Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK: find your local mutual aid group (for volunteering or for support for yourself)

  • Help cards to assist those self-isolating: download it and post it through people’s doors and help out with essential tasks such as bringing them food and medicine

  • Donate blood

  • FareShare: fighting hunger, tackling food waste. Become a Tesco Summer Food Collection Virtual Volunteer to help increase donations on 20-22 August in support of FareShare and Trussell Trust. Find participating stores here and download a Virtual Volunteer pack here

  • Red Cross Reserves

  • Cyrenians: OPAL (Older People Active Lives) team based in West Lothian are looking for 6 volunteers (don’t need to live in West Lothian) to make two phone calls a week to an older, isolated individual (comes with training). Please contact Emma Myhill at for more info.

  • Further information about helping your community can be found on the Ready Scotland website
  • Support the Centre for Homeless and Inclusion Health's partner organisations. Find out more here


Volunteer from home 

If you discontinue your physical volunteering, we’ve compiled a list of digital and at home volunteering opportunities to help you spend your time and continue to contribute, as well as stay connected to communities:

Online opportunities on Edinburgh University Students’ Association’s Volunteering Hub  

People Know How: supporting children, young people, adults and families

United Nations Volunteers 

Princes Trust Online Mentors 

Help from Home: micro volunteering opportunities 

LibriVox: read and record chapters of books 

Translators without borders 

Zooniverse: online research projects 

Project Implicit 

The Maturity of Baby Sounds: help us to better understand the very first stages of language learning 

Be My Eyes: a free app that connects blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers and company representatives for visual assistance through a live video call 

Action for insects: pledge to help insects 

Run, Herring, Run!: count baby river herring as they head to sea! 

Miss Maps: help to map areas where humanitarian organisations are trying to meet the needs of vulnerable people 

Floating Forrests: help us uncover the history of Giant Kelp forests around the globe 

Instant Wild: online conservation work 

Garden Birdwatch – British Trust for Ornithology 

Star-Spotting: Natural History Museum 

Loving Hands: knitting, crochet and sewing for charities 

Catchafire: skills-based volunteering 

Help From Home: microvolunteering

The Mix: supporting under-25s

ZSL Instant Wild conservation at your fingertips 


If you are aware of any others, let the Volunteering Service know, email


Let us know what you are doing

We'd love to know what you have been/are doing to help others or the community during the coronavirus outbreak. Use the hashtag #edstudentsvolunteer or email Find out what the University community has been up to here.


Remember to log your hours if you are volunteering

Log your hours on the Volunteering Hub to get recognition for your volunteering. Take part in our Community Volunteer Award.


The Impact of Covid-19 on the Voluntary Sector

Read NCVO'S publication on the Impact of the Voluntary Sector here


Please note that the Volunteering Service is now working remotely and contactable via email only.