Zero risk booking! Free changes & full refund options
Special Needs Support Volunteering in Barcelona - Spain

Special Needs Support Volunteering in Barcelona - Spain

Interested in being a Special Needs Support volunteer in Spain? International Volunteer HQ’s Special Needs Support project empowers volunteers to assist with one-on-one care for people with a range of physical and mental disabilities. At a specialized center, volunteers gain experience supporting people with disabilities while helping provide individual care and connection that enables them to become more a part of their community.

  • Programs start every second and fourth Monday of the month
  • Affordable fees from CA$1796 for 2 weeks
  • Includes accommodation, breakfast and lunch, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
  • Help with activities, therapy, care and exercise for people with disabilities

  • Enjoy Spain’s iconic beaches

  • Stay in a modern, socially driven hostel in Barcelona

Key information

Provide care & connection for those with disabilities
Based in centers for people with disabilities
Dormitory-style hostel
Volunteers aged 18+
Fully hosted experience from CA$1796 for 2 weeks
Durations from 2 - 12 weeks
Spanish language lessons available
Up to 5 hours volunteering a day

This program is ideal for:

Volunteers who are compassionate and caring and want to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people with disabilities. You’ll be working closely with the local placement staff, so you’re not required to have previous experience working or volunteering with disabled people.
Who is this program suited to?

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

For people with disabilities, individual care can make a huge difference in helping them live meaningful lives. However, that care can be hard to find as Spain’s education system is not set up to accommodate those with disabilities. Volunteers provide that extra support which allows for one-on-one care and enables those with disabilities to be more integrated within their community and to live less stigmatized lives.

As a Special Needs Support volunteer in Barcelona, you’ll be based in centers that care for individuals with a wide range of physical and mental disabilities. You’ll be helping a team of local staff and volunteers, assisting in activities such as:

  • Arts and crafts
  • Physical therapy
  • Exercise
  • Activities including swimming or walking with dogs
  • Preparing food
  • Serving meals
  • Cleaning
  • Helping with personal hygiene
Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being

Good mental and physical health is key to sustainable development and building healthy and happy communities. Now more than ever, we must increase access to free healthcare and health education across the globe to achieve an acceptable standard of living and wellbeing for all.

Why do Special Needs Support volunteering in Barcelona with IVHQ?

When you volunteer to support people with disabilities in Spain - Barcelona you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Improving quality of life for people with disabilities
  • Helping students develop life skills in a safe place
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Practicing your Spanish
  • Gaining experience working with disabled people
  • Immersing yourself in the Spanish way of life
  • Discovering Spain’s history and culture

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate in this program. If you are under the age of 18, IVHQ offers alternative volunteer opportunities for teens. Visit our High School Volunteer Abroad page to learn more.

  • All volunteers are required to speak fluent English, have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ before departure.

  • Volunteers are required to have a conversational/intermediate level of Spanish language ability.

Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply For Free

Not sure which program to join?

Get personalized recommendations >

What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

Sadie Yoder
29 Jan 2024

IVHQ and the local team were great - I was able to reach out with questions and get feedback in a timely manner. The orientation was very helpful and comprehensive. The local center we worked with was so sweet and patient with me and my language limitations. Volunteering in a new culture can be uncomfortable or awkward at times, but it is very worth it! You won't regret the experience or new friends you make.

Mere Heni Tumarae
07 Nov 2023

I gained insight to the day to day activities individuals and staff on the special needs program participated in on a daily basis. I learned how confident and creative each person is in their world with technology and communication. My advice would be to forget your doubts, if you have any experience or an interest in this field...give it a go.

Yasmine Laribi
01 Nov 2023

The local team was great! Always available for guidance and support! It was simply a wonderful experience. I had the chance to meet some exceptional people and work in a very caring environment. It was an experience that really touched and moved me. Don't hesitate when it comes to helping others. If you think about it, go for it, it will change you!

Lorena Sanchez
26 Apr 2023

GO GO GO! I promise you will not regret it, the connections you will make, the things you will learn, and the growth you will undergo is incredible. My favorite moment from the volunteer experience was being able to be a part of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities celebration. It was an absolutely beautiful experience to see them make speeches and dance together. Seeing the smiles on their faces truly warmed my heart. Volunteering taught me a multitude of things and has been a life-changing experience. The way I was able to bond and connect with so many individuals left a positive mark on me.

Jillian Krueger
10 Aug 2022

Just do it! It sounds corny to use that phrase but I genuinely can say it was two of the best weeks of my life and it broadened my perspective not only on my own life but others as well and has really impacted who I am and motivated me to start giving back even more than I already do! The preparation resources that I received from IVHQ before starting my trip allowed me to be prepared to the point that I was not worried at all before arriving in Barcelona. I think the hostel was a great place to stay for the two weeks. It was in a good location and the front desk staff were very nice. During my time volunteering it did not feel like a job or a chore what so ever, I was excited every day to go because of the feeling it gave me. Additionally, the other volunteers in IVHQ and my two leaders made the experience even better. You get to know people from other parts of the world and everyone was very friendly and eager to meet others in our large group in Barcelona.

One of my favorite moments of my volunteering experience was when I got to play soccer outside at a nearby park with two of the special needs adults. These two adults were more quiet when we would hang out inside, however once we were able to play soccer with them you could see their faces light up and how much fun they had. I also hadn't played soccer since I was younger so it was so fun to play for fun again. I truly believe my group and I left an impact on the adults we helped during our two weeks of volunteering. When we had to say goodbye ourselves and the adults we were helping did not want the two weeks of volunteering to come end.

I got to see what life is like for a variety of special needs adults and their caretakers. Before this trip I was very unfamiliar with what life was life for them, but now I have a deeper understanding and bigger appreciation for the people who devote their lives to taking care of them and for the special needs adults themselves. They will always hold a special place in my heart now and after this trip I want to continue spending time helping them.

Sophia Werner
09 Aug 2022

I received all of the guidance and preparation I needed before I started my trip. If I was ever confused, the IVHQ team were there right away to help me figure everything out. The local team were very welcoming and made me feel safe and comfortable from beginning to end. I could not be more grateful for the people I met and the lessons I learned during my time volunteering. You get the chance to not only explore a new country, but to make a difference in someone else's life.


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

Learn about course credit
Volunteer Abroad in Barcelona, Spain with IVHQ


Catalonia is a region in northern Spain with its own distinct culture. Barcelona is its capital and melds millennia of history with modern life in a way that creates a vivid, stylish city with a vibrant atmosphere. It’s rich with the art and architecture of Gaudi and Picasso; home to FC Barcelona - one of the world’s best football teams; loaded with remnants of its ancient Roman past; stacked with beautiful beaches and parks and known for its mouth-watering cuisine. The IVHQ Spain volunteer program in Barcelona hosts a popular range of meaningful volunteer work. The dedicated local team supports volunteers 24/7 as they’re immersed in local life, helping you to develop an authentic understanding of this iconic destination. Volunteer placements are located throughout the wider city area of Barcelona. Some placements are up to a 90-minute commute, which can be on different means of public transport.

Arrival and orientation

The program orientation begins on the second and fourth Monday of every month, and volunteers need to arrive in Barcelona on the Sunday before orientation.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Barcelona–El Prat Airport (BCN). Your airport pick-up is included in your program fee.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported via Metro and bus to the volunteer accommodation. Your accommodation is covered by your program fee and includes the night before your program orientation.

If you are traveling in Spain prior to your volunteer program and arriving overland, we will provide you with a time and place to meet the local team in Barcelona on the day before your program orientation.

Orientation is hosted by our Spain team in Barcelona. It begins the morning of your chosen start date and lasts for a full day. The orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Spain – an introduction to Spain and Barcelona, culture and customs, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities, an introduction to project and placement as well as a tour of the local area and a basic Spanish language lesson. The orientation will also give you a chance to sign up for additional Spanish language lessons and to meet other volunteers with whom you can swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing .

Volunteer schedule example


After the initial orientation, you will have a morning, afternoon or evening shift at your placement and will work for approximately 3 to 5 hours per day. Please note that start times and daily workload depends on the specific project that you are participating on.

A typical daily schedule is as follows:

7:00 - 10:00 AM Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.
8:00 AM Volunteers with a morning shift travel to placement to join local placement staff and begin work on their project.
1:00 - 3:00 PM Lunch is served at the accommodation.
2:30 PM Volunteers with an afternoon or evening shift travel to placement to join local placement staff and begin work on their project.
8:00 - 10:00 PM Most volunteers choose to eat dinner at this time. There are restaurants close by to the volunteer accommodation or you can prepare your own dinner in the communal kitchen.


On your free weekends in Spain, visit Gaudi’s unfinished yet still iconic La Sagrada Familia church, catch a football match, try a local paella, sunbathe on an incredible beach or wander the streets of Les Ramblas to Barcelona’s city center.

Volunteers staying for longer durations, or who wish to travel before or after their program, can visit areas further afield in Spain including; Granada, Valencia, Madrid and many other places. Volunteers can make travel arrangements once in Barcelona, with the advice and guidance of our local team.

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers are accommodated in a dormitory-style hostel about 10 - 15 minutes from the city center of Barcelona. You can expect to share a room with up to seven other people of the same gender. The hostel also caters to independent travelers and groups who book rooms from time to time for varying lengths of stay. Every volunteer will have access to their own locker to store valuables and other personal belongings. The hostel has shared bathrooms equipped with western toilets and showers in each room. Bedding is provided for each volunteer. Volunteers can also enjoy a shared living room, kitchen and large outdoor terrace. There is staff who clean the accommodation throughout the week; however, volunteers are required to keep their rooms tidy.

WiFi is available in the volunteer accommodation and can be accessed from many cafes and restaurants in the area. A local SIM card with data can also be purchased for unlocked phones.

Private rooms in the hostel with shared or private bathrooms can be arranged upon request for an additional cost, subject to availability.


Volunteers are provided with breakfast and lunch each day.

Breakfast is self-serve at the volunteer accommodation and includes fruit, bread, jam, cereal, milk, tea, and coffee. Lunch is provided in the accommodation according to a fixed menu. Meals will include pasta, rice, meat, seafood, vegetable and salad dishes as well as some typical Spanish dishes.

Volunteers who wish to spend the day in the city and require a packed lunch can request this the day prior.

Tap water is fine to drink in Spain; however, bottled water is readily available if you prefer and you should budget approximately US$5 (approximately CA$7) per week for this.


  • USD
Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
2 weeks CA$1796 Equivalent to CA$128/day
3 weeks CA$2462 Equivalent to CA$117/day
4 weeks CA$3129 Equivalent to CA$112/day
5 weeks CA$3795 Equivalent to CA$108/day
6 weeks CA$4461 Equivalent to CA$106/day
8 weeks CA$5794 Equivalent to CA$103/day
10 weeks CA$7127 Equivalent to CA$102/day
12 weeks CA$8459 Equivalent to CA$101/day
  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast and lunch
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Airport pick-up
  • Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on language lessons
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately CA$476) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in CAD.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, lunches, criminal background check, public transport to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Spain generally find US$100 to be sufficient for weekly expenses including lunches, transportation and miscellaneous spending.
  • Please note: You will need to budget an extra US$10 per night for the Barcelona City Tax, paid directly to the accommodation upon arrival.
  • Any changes or cancellations within 14 days of your start date are subject to a US$200 late change/cancellation fee.

Language lessons in Barcelona

Spanish language lessons are available for all volunteers in Spain regardless of their ability. Volunteers are strongly encouraged to take advantage of these lessons to allow them to work and communicate more effectively during their program. The language lessons are tailored to each volunteer’s current level of Spanish and are taught by professional Spanish teachers. Classes run Monday through Friday, the cost is very affordable and offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers.

  • 1 x 1 hour class = CA$63
  • 10 x 1 hour classes = CA$472 Spanish lessons can be booked through IVHQ once you have been accepted onto the Barcelona program.

Check what's required to visit Spain

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Capital Madrid
Population 46.9 million
Languages Spanish
Currency Euro (EUR)
Time zone UTC+01:00

Weather and climate: Being such a large country, the climate of Spain is very varied. Barcelona and its metropolitan area has a Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and hot summers. Its average annual temperature is 21.2 °C (70.2 °F) during the day and 15.1 °C (59.2 °F) at night. In the coldest month, January, the temperature ranges from 12 to 18 °C (54 to 64 °F) during the day and 6 to 12 °C (43 to 54 °F) at night. In the warmest month – August, the temperature ranges from 28 to 32 °C (82 to 90 °F) during the day and about from 20 to 24 °C (68 to 75 °F) at night. Large fluctuations in temperature are very rare.

Other projects you may be interested in

How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
Meet your personal volunteer travel expert
Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
Get ready to volunteer abroad, we’ll support you every step of the way!