The UK has a strong tradition of charity and supporting those in need, and is often ranked near the top of the World Giving Index which measures the percentage of people in each country who donate money, volunteer or help a stranger. Many identify the culture of generosity as the legacy of industrialization (which resulted in increases in wealth alongside a new working class living in deplorable conditions) and the legacy of colonialism (and the post-colonial responsibility to support others in need, especially in former colonies where the occupation may have contributed to current conditions). Today, nearly half of adults in England report volunteering at least once a month.

There are over 160,000 registered charities in the UK with an annual income of over £70 billion. The voluntary sector, also known as the third sector (the first two being public and private), and employs about 3% of the UK workforce.

In sharp contrast to the glamorous, historic. and trendy scenes encountered by tourists, not many people are aware that London is England’s poverty capital. Once housing costs are taken into account, one-fourth of Londoners live in poverty. Most of those live in working households, as about 18% of jobs in the city pay below the London Living Wage, an independently calculated figure based on what employees and their families need in order to live in London. Many social welfare and non-profit organizations in London seek to address these inequalities, supporting local people in need. The work of such organizations is often closely run in association with and is sometimes funded by, the state, providing interns opportunities to learn about public policy and administration. These placements give interns excellent insight into the issues which affect Londoners and opportunities to learn more about the lives of people living and working in the city.

London is also home to a number of international charities whose projects are mainly based in developing countries around the world. These placements provide interns with opportunities to learn about international development and policy.

Special Note Arrow All students interested in working in social welfare and not-for-profit organizations, especially if this involves children or access to sensitive information, will need to bring a valid police check to London. Learn more here.  



Students who choose Social Welfare & Non-Profit Organizations may be placed in any of the opportunities below. If a particular sub-area catches your eye, let us know on your MyInternship form. 

Public & Social Charities

A wide range of charities exist to advance societal and the collective good. These charities often support a particular community and invest in opportunities to support social and public interests. Possible placements could include community centers, organizations which support the welfare of those in need, and relief organizations. Tasks will vary but could include campaign work, research projects, fundraising, events planning, and supporting members of the organization. These placements enable students to develop greater civic awareness, social responsibility, and global citizenship.

Children’s & Youth Charities

Many charities focus on providing services and opportunities for children and youth, especially regarding their health, education and equal opportunity. The charity could be responsible for providing services to local, national or international youth. Examples of potential placements include nutrition and health education programs, employment awareness activities, mentoring schemes, and providing disaster or war relief services. Roles vary, but can include a variety of communications, fundraising, operations and administrative tasks, and often incorporate many of these. Interns with previous experience working with children and youth at an organization which supports local communities may find hands-on opportunities to engage them directly. A clean police check is required, and even hands-on roles will typically include office-based components. 

Poverty & Homelessness Initiatives

Housing and homelessness is a major challenge for most large, urban centers and there are many UK charities dedicated to addressing this issue. Areas of focus may include immigrant rights, housing and policy reform, food and health programs, and fundraising initiatives. Some hands-on opportunities are also available in homeless shelters and poverty service providers, but most opportunities combine a variety of tasks in communications, fundraising, operations, and administration. 

Special Interest Organizations

There are many charities and non-profits which work tirelessly on specific challenges affecting different groups of the population. These kinds of organizations aim to bring awareness to particular issues and are highly focused on, and committed to, specific causes and issues. Such placements offer students a good opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of a particular cause. Areas of focus may include refugee issues, women’s issues, domestic violence, gay/lesbian issues, disability rights, substance abuse/addiction, or conflict resolution. Students with a particular focus or specific interest should note these on MyInternship but use your communication skills to make it clear to your Internship Mentor that you understand specific requests may not be possible and note you are open to a role in any area of focus (otherwise, you might not be considered for the full variety of roles available).


Employees in the voluntary sector are used to running programs on tight budgets, and all employees and volunteers are expected to pitch in and help with whatever needs doing, even tasks that might fall outside the job description. Interns should be ready to adopt a similar “muck in” attitude and engage with any and all tasks, confident in the knowledge that their work contributes to the greater good and the mission of the organization.

Security, confidentiality, and legal requirements to protect vulnerable people may limit an intern’s access to certain types of roles and tasks.

A clean police check is required for most roles where a student will have access to vulnerable people (including children) or sensitive information. Students with previous criminal history, or history they do not wish to disclose to potential employers and the FIE Internship Team should carefully consider applying for a social welfare and non-profit organization internship.


  • Experience volunteering for a charity or cause
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills
  • Passion for social and political causes
  • Sensitivity to the subject matter they are working with
  • Flexibility and willingness to work on a variety of tasks
  • Clean police check

Relevant academic experience. Anthropology, Child and Adolescent Studies, Education, Humanities, Liberal Studies, Community Development, International Relations, Politics, Psychology, Theology, and Sociology.


  • Previous voluntary experience should be highlighted on your CV and further described in your personal statement
  • For interns who wish to work with children or other vulnerable populations, previous successful experience is required and should be highlighted on your CV
  • If your internship or areas of interest relate to a future career goal, make sure to explain this in your personal statement as site supervisors are keen to host students who are committed to the cause 
  • If you have relevant personal experience which you wish to disclose as an explanation of the source of your interest in the field, please do so in the personal statement. Keep in mind, however, that this is a professional document, so language should not be overly emotive and the focus should remain on the direct and transferable skills which make you a strong candidate. 
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