How to get started as a volunteer in Ireland

Becoming a volunteer in Ireland is one of the best ways to help people in need while learning and getting in touch with your more human side.

According to the organisation ‘Volunteer Ireland’, there are over 14,000 volunteers registered in the country, adding up to more than 490,000 volunteer hours in 2016. When analysing gender, most of them (68%) are women, meanwhile, age-wise people between 23-35 years old represent 44% of the registered volunteers. 

There are plenty of options to choose from when thinking of volunteering and you don’t need to be available full-time. A few spare hours can make a great difference in the lives of people, animals or even the environment. 

We have divided the options into three; people, animals and the environment. Here is a list of options you can take a look before making up your mind:


We can take a lot for granted, but this is not true for everybody. There are so many people suffering from physical, mental issues, or even in need of company out there. It won’t be hard for you finding something you feel like doing to help somebody else. 

Elderly people

Sometimes, it’s just a matter of having a chat, talk about life and not feeling alone. So, it won’t require much effort from you, not more than empathy. The organisation Friends of the elderly can give you some ideas on how to get started.

friends of the elderly

Mental Health

In times when so many people are struggling to keep their mental health, it’s undeniable the importance of helping each other. Mental Health Ireland has over 40 organisations spread around the country, so you can find one to start volunteering. You can also become part of the MHI committee, which is open for applications from September to May, and help on events and fundraisers. 

Hospitalised children

Sickness is not easy for adults and even harder for children. According to Children in Hospital, 270.000 children are hospitalised every year in Ireland. To give them some relief in such a tough situation, you can do something as simple as playing. Offering hospitalised children some fun is the way CHI volunteers help them go through the unwell period, while giving the parents some rest. 


If you are the kind of person who can’t refrain from petting a dog, cat or any cute face you see anywhere, volunteering at a dog shelter might be what you are looking for. Organisations such as ISPCA are constantly looking for help.

Rescuing, rehabilitating and finding a new home for animals when they are recovered are the core responsibilities of the institution. 

However, hands-on work is also required, either it means looking after the animals, keeping the place clean or helping with management tasks.

ISPCA Inspector Brendan Hughes with pitbull terrier upon arrival at centre


Bad habits and the reckless use of natural resources are causing serious damage to the environment. It’s not by chance we have got used to reading news mentioning disasters and negative perspectives. 

Eco-Unesco has several options if you are looking to do something about it. Not only will you help the planet, but also learn new skills and play an important role in the organisation projects. 

Looking for something more local? An Taisce is waiting for you to protect Ireland. If you are ready to compromise, becoming a member is the first step. There are opportunities for volunteering and internships all over the country. 

Focusing on preserving the Irish natural heritage, from climate-related actions to biodiversity preservation, the organisation advocates for the future of the country and the world.

These are a few options among so many others that need your energy for good. The most important thing is to take the first step, even if it means helping the person next door.

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About the author

Jessica Sbardelotto

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