Volunteering is simple. It’s about helping those in need, the environment or animals without getting paid (apart from expenses). Usually as part of a work team but could you help to administer or fundraise? You’ll learn loads of things along the way but the focus is not yourself – its always about others in need and how you are helping them.

Your DofE Volunteering CANNOT be done with or for a profit making business whether its a partnership, corporation or sole trader. It has to be undertaken with a charity, community or not-for-profit organisation because it is about serving the community as a whole. 

If you want to learn a Life Skill in return for giving time to a business then that becomes a DofE Skill, not Volunteering. FAQs here. Always SUBMIT your plans on eDofE to be sure.

You must ask the provider of each activity what insurance cover is in place. The Award and Dorset County Council only provide limited cover for activities led directly by DofE staff.

Here is a useful volunteer agreement that you are welcome to use as it sets out things very clearly for you and the organisation. Volunteer Agreement between DofE Participant and Organisation

Loads of links and ideas below – in no particular order:

Ask at School, your old Primary or their linked pre-schools – they are all community organisations – so long as its out of your curriculum time and adds up to more than an hour a week. It could be helping younger students in class or on the sports field; in the library; at after school clubs; school fundraising; joining a working group to improve school for everyone; school committees; prefect………… to name but a few

Gillingham Action for Nature GANG Group manages Withywood and Millenium Wood nature reserves, hold walks, talks and outings and completes other conservation work around town. GANG works alongside the Town Meadow Group  – the community area found at the bottom of Gillingham High Street linking the main town to the Library and Waitrose.

Carymoor Environmental Trust is an environmental education and nature conservation charity, providing inspirational outdoor learning for schools and community groups.The Centre is located near the active landfill site at Dimmer, near Castle Cary.

Community Action to Transform Cale Habitat (CATCH) is a volunteer community group founded by two local dads, Gary Hunt and Matt Bishop, in November 2012. The group’s objective is to improve and maintain the habitat of the River Cale in the Wincanton area, whilst encouraging a diverse, natural balance of wildlife.

Gillingham Town Council – lovely reception staff if you want to go and ask – or look under “links” on their front page – masses of stuff going on!

The Three Rivers Partnership works with community groups and is based in the Community Office next to the Library.

Community notice boards tell you a bit more about whats going on locally. Lots of villages have community web pages now; towns and counties all do and they all have relevant (to volunteering) information to various levels…………….

There are a large number of community organisations in and around Shaftesbury . The same webpage also lists some local churches and schools (right hand menu).

The Wincanton Window is a community website with lots of information on local clubs, sport, church, activity and interest groups

LIve in Stur? Have a look at the Sturminster Community website and The Town Council site for a contact number for someone to speak to

Some more local community sites we’ve found:The Marnhull MessengerChild Okeford; East Stour; East Knoyle; West Knoyle; Maiden Bradley; Warminster; Stalbridge; CrockertonLongbridgeandHillDeverill; Mere; DonheadsCharltonLudwellandtheCoombes; Fontmell Magna; Fifehead Magdalen; Okeford Fitzpaine; Iwerne Valley;

There’s a list here of lots of West Wilts Community/Neighbourhood sites

Longmead Community Farm is near Milborne St Andrew in Dorset and uses the opportunities of participating in outdoor community life on a rural smallholding to encourage and support families in crisis and other groups with similar needs

Community Shops (run by a team of volunteers for the benefit of the community) are in Motcombe , Bishops Caundle, Thorncombe, Maiden Bradley, and there may well be more.

Charity Shops in the area are listed on Google – just search. Here is a search link that should show contact details for quite a list. Thorngrove Garden Centre is a Scope organisation that combines horticulture with care for young people.

Read on for more ideas!

Messy Church – family fun meetings once every month in Gillingham or local to the town. You would need to discuss how you’d meet the average hour per week you need – maybe setting up and clearing up will take 4 hrs – otherwise keep going until the hours are covered or there are other activities connected to the group that you can help with. Such as the planning meetings. “Biscuit Barrel” is the Church youth group for yr6 to about yr8. Fridays once a  month. There’s also a pop up cafe (see events page) that is on every 2nd Saturday of the month: they’ve just extended hours and menu to help raise monies for other charities, Contact info here on the Church website – plus a links page for other Church based information.

Dorset Churches – Parish Clerks will know their community (as will the Vicar) and where people may need help either because of their age or an infirmity. That could simply mean helping someone with their shopping, walking dogs, gardening, housework, companionship. Do you have a sick/elderly neighbour or relative that needs help? The Cinnamon Trust is a charity set up to look after pets belonging to the terminally ill by placing volunteers to help them out.

Youth Clubs in Dorset. County Youth provision has changed and the article found at this link explains why. New Community Groups are however taking over some of the DCC Youth Centres and looking for all the volunteer help they can get. Gillingham Youth Foundation is the place to enquire regarding new Youth Clubs at Gillingham Youth Centre

BONES (Gillingham’s Youth Club in Cemetery Rd) is back – on Wednesdays and Thursdays – use the facebook page to ask if they need help – particularly on the Junior Club night.

Hipp!!Bones Club for Young People with Special Needs based at Gillingham Youth Centre. This Club meets the 1st and 3rd Saturday mornings in the month for 2 hours, each time, so you will need to aim to be there to help prepare and clear up in order to make the hours needed.

There are other village/town youth clubs all over the place, where you could offer to help – even help behind the tuck bar is usually well received, and you can find out who to talk to from pages like Youth Action Wiltshire, Dorset Youth Association, and Somerset Youth

Girl Guiding Dorset – based behind the Youth Centre – they love help with Rainbows

Scouts – Gillingham – could be worth asking about helping with Beavers or even Cubs. Further afield you can find out about other Scouting groups from their County websites: Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset.

Find out what you may be able to offer a Children’s Centre through volunteering. There are 27 across Dorset!

There are a lot of care homes in North Dorset which can be found simply by googling “care homes north dorset”. Past participants and residents have enjoyed each others company simply chatting or reading, playing board games, cards or music together.

Duncliffe, Fifehead and Kingsettle Woods are featured on the Woodland Trust site – where you can get in touch to find out how to get involved.

Maybe think about getting involved with the Ramblers who, amongst other things, help to maintain local paths. Other jobs are helping to run groups, lead walks, campaigning

Railway enthusiast ? Have a look here at the Shillingstone (16+ yrs) Project; Somerset and Dorset Railway (Junior and Adult m’ship); Swanage Railway; Somerset and Dorset Railway at Midsomer Norton; Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust.

Here is a link to the Animal Rescue Directory for the UK. If you contact your local Vet they may know of further rescues. Please remember that you mustn’t offer your volunteer time to a Vet Practice, to look after pets with paying owners, as the Vets would be viewed as a commercial organisation. However if they have a Rescue section that relies on volunteer help to function then that is feasible – check tho’!

Like horses and everything to do with them? What about Riding for the Disabled? Pop your postcode into this page and several groups will come up.

Think about fundraising as an individual or a  team for something like Children in Need or Comic Relief or a charity of your choice. Commitment (for sectional dates) can start the day your plans start to take shape, through the event/s, and up to the time you pay your raised monies across.

You might find a local cause here to add funds to, or even set up your own Just Giving account to raise money for others.

The Library Service

Live Careers ads

Dorset Volunteer Centre

PDSA – get involved

Dorset Wildlife Trust

Margaret Green Animal Sanctuary

Weldmar Hospice


Royal Voluntary Service

St Johns Ambulance

Red Cross

The Rotary

Alzheimers Society – singing for the brain in Gillingham

Fundraise for Dorset Dog Rescue


The Award has a page where there is a long list of national organisations that you might be interested in, if there’s a local branch, and who are already used to working with Participants.

If you’ve got this far and nothing suits then try your own search.  Virtually all towns and villages have community websites these days and by just googling where you live alongside the word “volunteer” you will come up with something!

More Local Links added as we find out about them