Volunteering frequently asked questions (FAQs) 

General volunteering questions

How can I volunteer for Cancer Research UK? 

We’ve got lots of volunteering opportunities for you to choose from. You can search by activity or your postcode and apply for volunteer activities near you. For shop volunteering, you can also enquire in our shops. 

Can I volunteer while claiming benefits? 

Yes, you can volunteer whilst receiving benefits as long as you continue to meet all the conditions of your benefit. We advise that you discuss this with the office that pays your benefits before applying. More information can be found on this Government webpage https://www.gov.uk/guidance/volunteering-and-claiming-benefits 

Does Cancer Research UK pay expenses? 

We don’t want you to be out of pocket when you volunteer with us, so we reimburse reasonable expenses connected to your volunteering. Please discuss this with your staff contact in advance. If you’re unsure who to speak to, email our Volunteering team at volunteering@cancer.org.uk or call our Supporter Services team on 0300 123 1022. 

Can Cancer Research UK support my visa application for the UK?

No, unfortunately Cancer Research UK is not able to sponsor Charity Worker visas for the volunteer activities we offer. This is because the activities offered do not meet the criteria for visa sponsorship. 

I already have a visa, can I volunteer with Cancer Research UK? 

Yes, you can volunteer with us if your visa permits you to work or volunteer in the UK. Please check your visa permissions and whether there are any restrictions on the number of hours you can volunteer. If you have any doubts or questions you can find out more on the UK Visas and Immigration website. 

I'm a refugee, can I volunteer with Cancer Research UK?

Yes, if you have refugee status or have exceptional leave to remain you can volunteer with us. 

I’m an asylum seeker, can I volunteer with Cancer Research UK? 

Yes, if you are an asylum seeker you can volunteer with us. If your final appeal is refused and you are denied leave to remain then you will have to stop volunteering with us. 

Can I volunteer with a criminal record?

If you have an unspent conviction, we’ll need to consider whether you can volunteer with us when reviewing your application. We ask our volunteers to disclose to us, in confidence, any unspent criminal convictions, the offence(s), date of conviction(s) and the length of sentence(s). We do not ask for disclosure of spent convictions. If you’re unsure whether your convictions are spent, you can find guidance on the government’s website. 

I am no longer able to volunteer for Cancer Research UK, what should I do?  

That’s ok, we understand that circumstances change. To let us know that you’re no longer able to volunteer for us, please email volunteering@cancer.org.uk  

Shop Volunteer Questions

What is the youngest age you can volunteer at? 

In general, to volunteer in our shops you need to be 18 or over. But if you are 16 or 17, you may be able to volunteer with us in shops as part of a recognised scheme, for example, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. To find out more pop into your local shop and speak to the manager.  

If you are under 18 and not part of a scheme, you can still support us by volunteering at an event or setting up your own fundraising project. All our opportunities will give you the chance to learn plenty of new skills. 

How can I contact a Cancer Research UK shop? 

You can view this list of our shops with their telephone numbers and addresses to get in touch, or pop in store. 

What information will I need to give to volunteer in a Cancer Research UK shop? 

To volunteer in our shops, we will ask you to complete an application form, including giving the details of two references. The people providing the reference need to have known you for two years and must not be a blood relative or a partner/spouse.  

We will also ask to see photo ID and proof of your address before you start with us. 

If you are not a UK citizen or do not have settled status in the UK, we will ask you to show us documentation to confirm you are eligible to volunteer in the UK, for example details of your visa. 

If you can bring this information to your taster session that is really helpful and can make it quicker for you to get started. If you can’t provide this information, please speak with the shop manager at the taster session or contact  volunteering@cancer.org.uk  

I am going to a Cancer Research UK shop volunteer taster session, what should I wear? 

When you’re a volunteer or coming in for your taster session, you’ll be representing Cancer Research UK. With that in mind, all members of staff and volunteers need to come across as friendly, positive and professional. 

We recommend wearing something appropriate and comfortable for the shop floor, something such as jeans and a t-shirt would be fine. 

If you’re still in doubt about what to wear, please call the shop and speak to the shop manager before your session. You can find the contact number for the shop using our list of shops

Event Volunteer Questions

I’m under 18, can I volunteer at Cancer Research UK events? 

Race for Life or sports events – yes, although if you are under 16, you’ll need to fill in a paper application form and have it signed by a parent or guardian. You can do this on the day or request a form prior to the event by emailing volunteering@cancer.org.uk Please let us know your name, age and which event you want to volunteer at. You will also need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian on the day. 

Big Hike – yes, volunteers need to be aged 16 or over on the day of the event. If you are aged 16 or 17 on the day of the event, you need to confirm you have permission from your parent or legal guardian to volunteer. You will need to be accompanied by a responsible adult on the day who is also registered to volunteer. 

Shine Night Walk – yes, volunteers need to be aged 13 or over on the night of the event. If you are under 18 on the day of the event, please email shinevolunteering@cancer.org.uk to request parent/legal guardian consent forms to volunteer. You will need to be accompanied by a responsible adult on the night who is also registered to volunteer.