Volunteer for the Helpline

Volunteers are an essential part of the work we do at Refuge. With extensive training and support, our Helpline volunteers learn and grow while offering compassionate, real-time support to women experiencing domestic abuse — over the phone through our Helpline and over chat with our Live Chat Service.

Volunteer for the National Domestic Abuse Helpline

We are fortunate to have over 100 Helpline Volunteers who help us to support those who contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline by phone and through live chat. Most volunteers commit to one 3-4 hour shift a week and many volunteer remotely from across the UK.

Refuge believes that volunteers play a significant role in helping us to achieve our mission and we highly value the contribution volunteers make in offering their time, skills, and expertise to support the work that we do to create better futures for those impacted by domestic abuse. We are committed to demonstrating our gratitude by striving to ensure that all our volunteers have a safe, rewarding and fulfilling experience.

“Ultimately, what I’ve learned the most is the impact of a simple phone call can be life-changing. For me, that’s the reason I volunteer on the Helpline.”

Amita, volunteer

“The training program consisted of 5 full days. It was very in depth, it was informative and very enlightening.”

Becky, volunteer

“The team at Refuge are quite frankly, incredible. Volunteering with Refuge is the best decision I’ve made in a long time - the ONLY a regret I have is not applying sooner!”

Helpline volunteer

Hear from our volunteers:

Frequently asked questions:

Do you have skills that you would like to use to help others?

Are you looking to gain valuable experience to support a future career in the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) sector, counselling, psychology, or social work?

Perhaps you have previously experienced domestic abuse and would like to support other women going through the same thing?

Whatever your motivation for supporting our work as a volunteer, we will ensure that your experience as a Refuge volunteer is a rewarding one.

Refuge is committed to building a volunteer community that is diverse, inclusive and accessible to those who wish to support us in this way. We want our volunteers to be as varied as the women they are helping us to support, and therefore encourage applications from adults aged 18+ of all ethnicities, religions, backgrounds and abilities.

However, due to the nature of the support our volunteers provide, many of our roles are restricted to women.

Refuge is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion. Our recruitment and selection procedures reflect this commitment which applies to all applicants for roles at Refuge.

Helpline Volunteers contribute by chatting online to those who contact us through our Live Chat Service and handling calls on Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline.

The majority of our roles require you to volunteer at least once a week for a period of 6-12 months.

We do understand that occasionally you will be absent from your volunteering due to sickness, holidays or other commitments and make allowance for this.

Please note that due to the level of training and time we invest in our volunteers, we do not have the capacity to consider applications outside of times stated.

We don’t expect you to know everything about domestic abuse to volunteer with us, as we will provide you with extensive training before you begin your volunteer role.

However, knowledge, understanding or experience that complements the role you are applying for is always an advantage in securing a volunteer position with us – be sure to include this in your application, as there is often strong competition for the roles we have open.

We recommend you read the person specification carefully for the volunteer role you’re applying for.

  1. If you haven’t done so already, we recommend that you Register with us to be emailed about the Refuge vacancies as they arise.
  2. When a role comes up that interests you, you will need to follow the instructions to apply. This is usually in the form of a digital application through our website. We recommend you read the person specification carefully for the volunteer role you’re applying for. Ensure that you give us some examples in your application of the skills, experience and attributes you have, that match the ones we are looking for.
  3. Shortly after submitting your application, you will be advised whether you have been shortlisted for an interview. If you are invited for an interview, we will arrange a time with you that is convenient. Interviews take place in person or via a digital platform, like Zoom.
  4. If you interview successfully, you will be asked to provide documentation proving your identity, references and undergo an enhanced DBS check.
  5. All being well, we will ask you to join us for a Volunteer Induction, which is training that is either carried out in person or online. It covers both the theoretical and practical knowledge you will need to carry out your volunteer role successfully. We will also ask you to sign a Volunteer Contract. This is a non-legal agreement outlining what you commit to as a volunteer and what you can expect from us as well.
  6. Start your volunteer role with Refuge and make a difference in the lives of women and children experiencing domestic abuse! Unfortunately we cannot guarantee that everyone who applies for a volunteer role will be selected.

Ensuring that our volunteers feel supported and appreciated, in ways that are meaningful to them, is very important to us.

Every successful volunteering applicant will receive extensive theoretical and practical training from our experienced staff to ensure that they are able to carry out their role. After completing this induction phase, volunteers continue to learn from the staff teams they support during their volunteer shifts.

A Volunteer Coordinator or Manager will also arrange to meet with you one-to-one on a regular basis to ensure that you are getting the support you need. We also offer structured training opportunities to contribute to your learning and development.

We recruit for volunteers several times throughout the year.

Volunteers are not paid, as they are not legally contracted employees. They give their time, skills and experience for free.

We do not offer work experience placements in the majority of our services due to the sensitive nature of the work that we do.

However, you will gain valuable skills and experience whilst volunteering, and we are happy to sign off volunteer hours as a contribution to your course.

In these instances, we would still require you to make a full volunteering commitment in terms of the time and skills you donate.

Due to the sensitive and confidential nature of the work that we do, and the extensive training that we provide, we cannot offer ad hoc volunteering opportunities.