Whether you’re an eco-warrior, a fundraising expert or just want to bring some joy to the lives of underprivileged children, take some time to volunteer at one of Beijing’s many charities. Here are Time Out's picks for the best volunteer gigs in the city.
Best for flexible volunteering Magic Hospital
What they do The team at Magic Hospital provide entertainment for sick, hospital-bound or handicapped children. With an emphasis on
fun and laughter, the charity
sends clowns into hospitals, sets up enjoyable English-language lessons and art classes and grants children’s ‘wishes’ with their Abracadabra program.
Charity director Rob Wang says, ‘Our mission is to bring laughter and happiness to disadvantaged children all across China.’
What you can do Volunteering with Magic Hospital is very flexible; you are able to commit anything from as little as one hour a week with the Playtime programme.
Volunteering activities are also hugely varied: ‘Our Playtime programme runs weekly and it’s simply just reading a storybook or playing with toys together with children in hospital to make their
time in there a little happier. A programme like Outdoorsy Day means our volunteers take children out to a field trip – to the zoo, museums, or parks.’
Get involved To volunteer, visit Magic Hospital's website or email email@example.com.
Best for challenging yourself Bethel
What they do Bethel provides care and education for blind and visually impaired children in China, as well as offering support to those who care for these children.
What you can do Bethel requires people to commit to three months’ volunteering, and they are currently looking for full- and part-time teaching volunteers. If this sounds like too much, go along to a Bethel project and volunteer for the day.
Chloe Banks, volunteer coordinator at Bethel, says, ‘Many people think that volunteering means cleaning, painting, or
hugging a baby. It can, but we would rather you supported us by using your skills! Are you in marketing and communications, are you good at selling, do you have photography or graphic design skills? We want you!’
And don’t worry if you’ve never worked with blind children before: ‘You will find out quickly that almost everything you thought about what blind people can or can’t do was probably wrong. You need to have
a heart that is ready to serve and hands willing to do what’s needed. Come ready to learn how to see
the world in a new way. We’ll give you some training, but expect to
be thrown in at the deep end. If you get stuck, don’t worry! Our staff are friendly and we’ll help you out.’
Get involved To volunteer, visit Bethel's website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best for Chinese speakers Included
What they do Included works to educate and inform migrants all over China, with the long-term aim of helping them integrate fully within the city. Their first community centre opened in Beijing in 2006 and they have since opened three more in the city, from which they run summer camps and their fantastic after- school programmes.
What you can do Volunteers can teach for just one day a week in spring and autumn, but the summer programme requires you to commit five days a week. While most of their teaching positions require Chinese proficiency, they are also looking for volunteers to help with photography, graphic design and teaching English.
Volunteer coordinator Findy Zhao says, ‘If you are passionate about social issues that affect us all, if you love being with kids, if you wish to
do something that helps enrich their lives, you can join us. Volunteering at our migrant community centres will require much from you but will give much in return.’
Get involved To volunteer, visit Included's website.
Best for environmentalists Friends of Nature
What they do The first environmental NGO in China, Friends of Nature (FON) leads campaigns
to raise awareness of China’s
most pressing environmental issues, runs educational camps
and field trips and works to protect endangered species.
What you can do Volunteers work on a variety of different projects, from collecting litter to spearheading awareness-raising campaigns. Apply online to become a member and attend FON’s activities such as lectures and nature walks.
Get involved To volunteer, visit Friends of Nature's website or email email@example.com.
Best for LGBT activists
What they do One of China’s leading LGBT rights organisations, Common Language’s work raises awareness about LGBT issues and combats discrimination against LGBT people, with the ultimate goal of achieving equal rights for all genders and sexualities.
What you can do Work with Common Language as they set up local LGBT self-help groups across China. They are particularly in need of translators.
Get involved To become a member or volunteer with Common Language, visit their website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.