Volunteer in Belgium
At a glance…
- Available year-round
- 4 meaningful project options
- Projects based in Brussels, the capital city of Belgium
- Accommodation in a central volunteer hostel
- Between 5 and 10 volunteers start in Belgium each month
- Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, some meals and 24/7 in-country support
- Program fees from US$495 for 1 week (approximately CA$610)
- Most affordable fees - as the world leader in affordable volunteer travel, we’re able to keep our fees low by partnering with a local organization in Belgium to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
- Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in Belgium will ensure you feel supported every step of the way - from planning to volunteering.
- Responsible projects - we’re dedicated to ensuring that our projects are responsibly run and have sustainable positive impacts that are supporting local needs.
- Online training - as soon as you register on an IVHQ program, you will gain access to our interactive volunteer training to ensure you’re well prepared for your program.
- Safety-first - volunteer safety is a top priority for IVHQ and we have clear standards for risk management on each program. You can feel confident that you are placed with trustworthy institutions, organizations and families that have been screened by our local teams.
- New friendships - as an IVHQer, you’ll always be in the company of friendly locals and like-minded volunteer travelers who will quickly become your life-long friends.
- Epic weekend adventures - you’ll have your weekends free to explore Belgium with your new-found friends.
The IVHQ Belgium program is located in the capital city of Brussels, which is a popular tourist gateway for exploring the rest of Europe. Volunteers are required to fly into Brussels Aiport (BRU), which is a 7 to 9 hour flight from most major airports in Canada. Volunteer placements are located throughout the wider city of Brussels and its neighborhoods and the volunteer accommodation is located just 20 minutes from the city center.
The program begins on the second and fourth Monday of every month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 6 weeks.
On the Education Support project in Belgium, you will provide basic language education for adults and youth, as well as developmental activities for children among disadvantaged population groups. These include; asylum seekers and refugees, people living on the streets or in shelters, children of migrants, and more. You can expect to work within a centre that has been established to help one of these groups, such as a refugee residence, a homeless shelter for families, or a community centre. You will be providing invaluable assistance to these NGOs in their work with vulnerable people. On occasion, you may also participate in informal conversation groups that work directly with people living on the streets.
This project is well suited to creative volunteers with a passion for teaching and cultural exchange. You may be called on to teach the alphabet, to teach/review very basic English vocabulary, or to lead/participate in conversational English groups. This may include creating some of your own materials, such as flashcards, or putting together a lesson plan with some simple activities from the available program resources. Alternatively, you may be asked to participate in leading or helping with activities for children living in vulnerable situations: in federal asylum seeker residences, in family shelters, and in community centres for children of migrants. Activities may include outings, sports, crafts, games, music, and more, and require creativity in communication as the children speak many languages, and very few speak English.
You do not need to be a qualified or experienced teacher to participate on this project, however, we encourage volunteers to come prepared by completing some relevant training, like a teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) course. Visit our Online TEFL course page to learn how to gain an internationally-recognized TEFL certification at a discounted rate.
Due to summer holiday closures, volunteers who apply for the Education Support project over July and August will have less structured classroom work available, and more opportunities for working with children and in informal conversation groups. These are often in an outdoor environment and encourage learning through games and activities rather than in a classroom setting. Volunteers will need to be creative in designing educational activities which fit the topics being covered at the time.
The purpose of the Food Outreach project is to provide valuable assistance within soup kitchens and community centers in Brussels which cater to people who are homeless or living in poverty, who are unable to prepare or afford regular meals. You will quickly see the impact your contribution is making within the community.
If you’re someone who is willing to work hard and wants to see first-hand the contribution that your work is making, this will be a rewarding project for you.
Your main role on the project is to assist with the many food projects that exist in Brussels such as helping at food banks, running sandwich distribution projects and preparing and serving breakfast to refugees who are waiting either outside the immigration office, attempting to seek asylum in Belgium or at one of the many refugee centres in Brussels.
Your tasks may include food preparation, cooking, cleaning, packing and distributing meals. Another very important aspect of this project is interacting with the people receiving the meals, as the majority of them don’t have close connections with family or friends. As you will be volunteering alongside local placement staff, you do not need to have prior food preparation or hospitality experience to participate on this project.
There is a great deal of behind-the-scenes work involved in accomplishing the goals of local NGOs in Belgium. The purpose of the NGO Support project is to provide assistance with the operational workload of a local NGO, to enable them to widen their reach and improve the services they provide.
Volunteers can utilize existing skills and experience, or learn new skills, by helping with the day-to-day operations, as well as gain a greater understanding of NGOs and the issues they face. Typical areas of work could include basic office administration, communication, team building, organizing of stock, and filling in on another local project as needed. You will also be an active participant in the local NGO’s on-going weekly projects.
Duties are assigned based on the priority of tasks at the time of your program and in accordance with your skills, interests, and experience. You will work with a vibrant organization where your skills are put to great use, therefore enthusiasm, passion, and flexibility are essential.
The purpose of the Renovation project in Belgium is to provide support in developing better infrastructure for the community centers and NGOs we work with in Brussels. Many of these centers are under-funded and run-down and are therefore in need of new structures or renovation work.
The main focus of this project is to brighten up the centers so they are more vibrant and appealing for the community members who rely on them for support.
The Renovation project is best suited to volunteers who enjoy physical work and want to play a hands-on role in creating more aesthetically-pleasing environments for centers that are making a difference in the local community.
Your tasks can include, but are not limited to; painting, debris removal, furniture repairs, structural repairs, cleaning outdoor gardens, and light refurbishment or construction.
The Renovation project has an extra cost of US$50 per week for the added supervision and materials involved in this project. This amount will be included in the Program Fee that is quoted to you when you apply for the program.
The program orientation begins on the second and fourth Monday of every month, and volunteers need to arrive in Brussels no later than the Sunday before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Brussels Aiport (BRU). Canadian travelers are eligible to gain a 90 day tourist stamp on arrival. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from date of entry and you need at least two free pages in your passport reserved for immigration authorities.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 to the volunteer accommodation. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation through to (and including) the Friday night of your final week.
If you are traveling in Belgium prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up from any of the main stations in Brussels on the day before your program orientation.
Orientation is hosted by our Belgium team on the morning of your chosen start date. The orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Belgium – Introduction to Belgium, Culture and Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities, Introduction to Project and Placement as well as a brief city tour. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers with whom you can swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
Your daily schedule will vary depending on the project you choose. You will receive a weekly schedule at Orientation that will cover your first one or two weeks. If you are staying longer, the local team will work with you to place you to select a placement that you wish to invest your remaining time in.
Start times and daily workloads will vary depending on needs of the project you are participating on, but we aim for an average of 4 hours per day volunteering. Some projects, such as the Food Outreach breakfast, start very early in the morning; some others take place in the afternoon. If you need to do more hours per day for a particular requirement, please let us know ahead of time so that we can schedule your volunteer project accordingly. Each day, you will pick up a lunch that you can eat when convenient. Outside of projects, you are free to use your time as you wish.
Volunteers are responsible for their own dinner. You will have the evening free to go out for dinner, relax and use as you wish. Very occasionally, you may be asked to assist with a special event on an evening or a Saturday, in which case our local team will arrange another day off for you to make up for the time. However, if this conflicts with other plans, just let our local team know so they can make other arrangements.
You will be accommodated alongside other volunteers in a hostel in Brussels. The hostel also caters to independent travelers who book rooms from time to time for varying lengths of stay. The hostel is about 20 minutes from the center of Brussels via Tram or Metro.
You can expect to share a room with up to 6 others and can also expect to share a communal bathroom with toilets and showers. Bedding and a bath towel are provided. It is the responsibility of the volunteer to ensure their room and shared bathroom is kept tidy during their time on the program.
Free WiFi is available at the volunteer accommodation.
Private room upgrades are also possible for an additional cost, subject to availability. The cost is about CA$75 to CA$115 per night, depending on the upgrade. This can be arranged with the local team directly, once registered.
Please note that during busy periods, the accommodation can vary slightly to the description above due to additional hostel accommodation being used and occasionally rooms of mixed gender also need to be utilized.
As a volunteer, you will be provided with breakfast and lunch each day during the week, with only breakfast on the weekends. Breakfast is self-serve at the volunteer accommodation with ingredients provided for volunteers to prepare their own breakfast as needed. Cereals, bread, spreads, cheese, tea, juice and coffee will be provided for breakfast and each volunteer is given 5 Euro per day for lunch. This is sufficient to purchase the equivalent of a sandwich and drink.
Dinner is not included in your program fee and we recommend heading out for dinner to try the many delicacies that Brussels has to offer.
Tap water is fine to drink in Belgium, however, bottled water is readily available if you prefer and you should budget approximately US$10 CA$12 per week for this.
If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know well in advance of your program so our local team can make arrangements for you.
“The local team were very supporting and welcoming. I absolutely loved working with them! My favorite moment was interacting with the refugees. IVHQ gives you a smooth, seamless, enjoyable and satisfactory volunteering experience. Right from registering to reaching your destination and flying back, everything is made absolutely comfortable for you. I’d trust them with my eyes closed.” - Sahil Salunke (NGO Support Volunteer in Belgium)
|Length of program||Program Fee $USD|
- All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$299 on top of the Program Fee (partially refundable until 60 days before your program start date*). A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
- To convert these prices to your local currency click here.
- The Renovation project has an extra cost of US$50 per week for the added supervision and materials involved in this project.
- * Terms and Conditions do apply
- Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, transport to and from your placement ($50-$75 per week), souvenirs, in-country trips or tours.
- Transfer back to the airport at conclusion of the program
- Spending money - Volunteers in Belgium generally find US$150 to be sufficient for basic weekly expenses, including dinners.
What it covers
- Most affordable program fees
- Dedicated support from a volunteer expert
- Complete MyIVHQ account access
- Online volunteer training
- Comprehensive program guide
- Deals on flights and travel insurance
- IVHQ alumni membership
What it covers
- 24/7 in-country support
- Airport pick-up
- Program orientation
- Volunteer placement
Volunteers have the weekends free and there is no shortage of fascinating sites to see and places to explore in Brussels and wider Belgium!
Brussels is a bustling, multicultural city with mouthwatering cuisine, including frites, waffles and chocolate! The city is packed with interesting events, architecture, historical sites and art work, so you will never be short of activities to fill your free time. When you’re not indulging in the local delicacies, you can check out historical sites, such as La Grand Place, Parc du Cinquantenaire, and the unique Atomium landmark building. Your weekends can also be spent visiting areas further afield in Belgium, including the beautiful city of Bruges, the ancient cities of Ghent (and its castle) or Antwerp, the Belgian coastline and so much more!
If time allows, you’ll also want to take advantage of visiting nearby countries, such as France, Germany and the Netherlands. You can make travel arrangements once in Brussels with the advice and guidance of our local team.
See our Belgium Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in Belgium!
|Languages||Dutch, German, French|
Weather and climate: Belgium usually has cold winters and comfortably warm summers. The average temperature is around 37°F (3°C) in January, and 64°F (18°C) in July with average rainfall being 2.6 in (65mm) in January, and 3.1in (78 mm) in July.
Volunteers must be over 18 years of age at the beginning of the program. Volunteers must speak fluent English. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a recent criminal background check and a copy of their passport to IVHQ’s partner organization staff in Brussels.
Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.