Volunteer in Belgium
At a glance…
- Available year-round
- 5 meaningful project options
- Projects based in Brussels, the capital city of Belgium
- Accommodation in a central volunteer apartment
- 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 work with disadvantaged youth and young adults to provide basic education and new opportunities that they would otherwise not receive. Due to the high number of refugees and people living on the streets in Brussels, many community centers have opened to help cater to the needs of these individuals. As a volunteer on this project, you will be working within these centers to provide valuable assistance to local teachers and volunteers.
This project is well suited to creative volunteers with a passion for teaching and cultural exchange. Your tasks will focus on teaching basic English and Math, however there is also the opportunity to provide support in teaching French, Science, Music, Art and Life Skills.
As you will receive guidance and support from the local coordinator and teacher, 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.
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. These people are unable to prepare or afford regular meals and 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 help out with the preparation and distribution of meals, and you may also have the opportunity to prepare and serve breakfast to refugees who are waiting outside the immigration office, attempting to seek asylum in Belgium.
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.
The aim of the Mobile Library project is to provide a recreational outlet for the refugee community in Brussels and people who are living on the streets. The library travels to different locations around the city each day, enabling refugees and homeless people to check out books, grab a cup of coffee and interact with others while browsing through the library collections. The library also aims to provide informal education to those learning English or French, or those who need to improve their reading capabilities.
This project is ideal for sociable volunteers who enjoy interacting with and learning from people of different cultures. This option is also a good fit if you are looking to teach French or English, or would like to gain experience working in a library setting.
As a volunteer on the Mobile Library project, you will assist with stocking and maintaining order in the library van, managing the checking-in and checking-out of books and resources, running informal teaching and educational workshops as required, and interacting with the people who visit the library each day.
You do not need to have experience working in a library to join this project, however an enthusiasm for reading is essential.
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 such organizations, 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 within these organizations, as well as gain a greater understanding of NGOs and the issues they face.
Typical areas of work include web design, financial management, fundraising, public relations and marketing (including social media management), basic office administration, local volunteer promotion, presentations, and the organizing of stock. Duties are assigned based on the priority of tasks at the time of your program and in accordance with your skills, interests and experience.
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.
You will work alongside a member of the local team who will provide you with direction in your tasks each day. Your tasks can include, but are not limited to; painting, debris removal, furniture repairs, structural repairs, cleaning outdoor gardens, and light refurbishment or construction.
It is important to note that 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 your 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 coty 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.
Weekdays: On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local team member and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with. You will have a morning or afternoon shift at your placement and will work for approximately 3 to 5 hours per day. A typical morning schedule is as follows:
7:30 AM Breakfast begins at the volunteer apartment
8.30 AM Travel to placement to join local placement staff and begin work on your project. Start times and daily workload depends on the project that you are participating on.
1:30 PM Work at the placement usually ends. You will have your packed lunch, plan for the following day’s activities or travel back to the accommodation. You are also free to use your remaining free time as you wish. This could include sightseeing, some shopping or taking French language lessons.
6:30 PM Volunteers are responsible for their own dinner. You will have the evening free to go out for dinner, relax and use as you wish.
Please note this schedule will vary depending on the needs of your particular project.
Volunteers are accommodated alongside other volunteers in an apartment in Brussels, which is about 20 minutes from the center of Brussels via tram or Metro.
The accommodation can host up to 24 guests and you can expect to share a room with up to 6 others of the same gender. Each room of 6 has its own toilet, shower and lockers. Bedding and a bath towel are also provided. It is the responsibility of the volunteer to ensure their room and shared bathroom is kept tidy during their time on the program. The apartment also caters to independent travelers who book rooms from time to time for varying lengths of stay.
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.
Volunteers are provided with breakfast and lunch from Monday to Friday, with only breakfast provided on the weekends. Breakfast is self-serve at the volunteer accommodation with ingredients provided to prepare your own breakfast as needed. Cereals, fruit, bread, cold meats, cheeses, eggs, yogurt, milk, juice and coffee will be provided for breakfast. A packed lunch will be provided and you can expect vegetables or salad, bread or other carbohydrates, and a source of protein.
While dinner is not included in your Program Fee, it can be purchased at the volunteer accommodation each night for an additional cost of US$12 (approximately CA$14). This includes bread, appetizer, dinner and dessert. Alternatively, you can go out to sample 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 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. We will do our best to see that your that dietary requirements are catered for, but please keep in mind that as a volunteer, there is a need to be flexible.
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.
|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.