Volunteer in Spain
At a glance…
- Available year-round
- 5 meaningful project options
- Projects based in Madrid, the capital of Spain
- Accommodation in a dormitory style house in central Madrid
- Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
- Affordable program fees
- Affordable Spanish language lessons are available
- Between 5 and 20 volunteers start in Spain each month
- 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 Spain to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
- Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in Spain 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 Spain with your new-found friends.
The IVHQ Spain Program is located in Madrid, the capital city of Spain. Volunteer placements are located throughout the wider city area of Madrid. Volunteers are required to fly into Madrid, which is a 8 to 11 hour flight from most major airports in Canada.
The program begins on the first and third Monday of every month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 2 weeks to 12 weeks.
The Teaching project provides extra-curricular classes for local children, youth and adults who need additional education support, and who would otherwise be unable to afford extra lessons. Volunteers work in local centers which aim to support disadvantaged community groups to develop their skills and increase employment opportunities. Volunteers on the Teaching project assist predominantly in teaching English to the students, however volunteers with an intermediate level of Spanish may also teach other subjects, such as Mathematics, Computer Skills, Sports and Arts. Volunteers play a crucial role in exposing the students to new subjects and are encouraged to organize activities which enable the students to learn about different cultures and countries, while also learning English. Many individuals who attend the centers for support are from migrant communities and thus there is also the need for volunteers to teach Spanish and French – if you are fluent in these languages, please note this in your application when applying for the program.
Due to summer holiday closures, volunteers who apply for the Teaching project over July and August will support Summer Camp projects run by our local team in Spain. Educational activities on the Summer Camps are often in an outdoor environment and encourage learning through games 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.
Within the Teaching project there is also the option for volunteers to teach adults who are interested in learning a new language in order to create new opportunities. Many of the adults who attend the classes are immigrants from South and Central America who are currently unemployed or stay-at-home parents. Volunteers with previous teaching experience, who specifically wish to teach adults, must note this in their application when applying for the program. As many of the adults have no previous experience with English, volunteers must speak at least intermediate Spanish in order to request this placement.
The Teaching project is highly rewarding and through sharing knowledge and life experiences, volunteers can demonstrate that with a bit of hard work, anything is possible. As volunteers work with the support of IVHQ’s local team and placement staff, they do not need to be qualified or experienced teachers to participate, unless choosing to teach adults. 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.
After School Support
The After School Support project works in a variety of local centers with the common goal of providing care and educational support to children who come from disadvantaged communities and backgrounds. Volunteers assist the local social workers through helping the children with homework, tutoring English and running educational workshops. Volunteers also have the opportunity at times to run games and recreational activities with the children. The children typically range in age from 7 to 17 years and a key aspect for volunteers on the After School Support project is to be a positive role model for the children through interacting and sharing new cultures with them. While some basic resources are available, volunteers will be required to use their initiative to develop activities and bringing resources to assist with activities is encouraged. The After School Support project is great for proactive, eager volunteers who enjoy working with children outside of the classroom. As the After School Support project is run in the afternoon or evenings, volunteers will have the morning free to plan for the day’s work or take advantage of the Spanish language lessons offered by our local team.
The After School Care project closes over August and volunteers who cross into this period will switch to another project such as Special Needs Support.
The Agriculture project works with migrants and individuals with special needs to upskill them in farming and gardening techniques. The aim is to provide these individuals with the skills needed to find farming and gardening employment opportunities within the local community. The farms, one focussing on vegetables and crops with the other focussing on horticulture, serve an educational purpose and practice organic farming techniques. All crops harvested are either sold in local markets to assist with the on-going running of the farm or are taken home by the local workers to support their families. Volunteers have the opportunity to work alongside the local workers to help maintain the land, plant, care for and harvest a variety of different crops. This project is ideal for volunteers who enjoy the more physical aspect of volunteering and don’t mind getting their hands dirty. The work available is dependent on the season and where volunteers are placed. Volunteers will be involved in clearing land for growing crops and plants, assisting with fertilizing the land, developing land for planting, planting and nurturing. Please note, resources and machinery are limited on this project and most work is very labour intensive.
Special Needs Support
Volunteers on the Special Needs Support project work alongside individuals with a variety of special needs. Work can include; vocational-skills development in a bicycle refurbishment program or clothing donation center which distribute donations to communities in need, providing companionship to children undergoing healthcare treatment, and working with youth and adults who have physical and mental disabilities. Volunteers provide valuable companionship and guidance on this project and do not need to have any previous experience in working with individuals who have special needs. Volunteers can expect to be involved in tasks which support the development of vocational skills, arts and crafts activities, playing games with children, or helping prepare materials for different initiatives that take place within the center in which they are placed.
The Creative Technologies project supports NGOs in Spain to develop their online presence and marketing materials to expand their reach and charitable initiatives. This project requires volunteers to have experience in website development, graphic design, videography or photography, and volunteers will initially work with our local team in Spain to understand the needs of the specific NGO they will be supporting, to agree on a set of deliverables for their project period.
- Experienced website developers can apply their understanding of the NGO’s goals and target audience to build a website incorporating relevant content and media to support their charitable initiatives.
- Graphic design professionals can work with NGOs to create a range of marketing materials, which could include flyers, print advertisements, website content, social media posts, or logos. These materials will depend on the individual requirements on the NGO, however volunteers are invited to contribute ideas for effective campaigning.
- Volunteers with experience in videography or film can create promotional videos for NGOs that do not have resources to create videos to support their campaign efforts.
- Volunteers with experience in photography can work with NGOs to document their activities and provide them with media that can be used to support their social media and marketing materials. This could involve taking photos of the community members which the NGO supports, or helping to record activities of a local food bank.
As these NGOs do not have the necessary resources available, volunteers need to provide their own laptops, design software (Adobe Creative Suite or equivalent) and/or camera equipment in order to participate on this project. Due to the time required for volunteers to understand the nature and goals of the NGO in which they are placed, this project has a minimum duration of 3 weeks. Volunteers on this project are required to have at least 2 years of training and/or professional experience in website development, graphic design, videography or photography. Please ensure you include all relevant qualifications and/or experience within your application when applying for the program.
The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of every month, and volunteers need to arrive in Madrid on the Sunday before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Madrid International Airport (MAD). 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 in central Madrid. 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 can provide you with directions to the volunteer accommodation in Madrid on the day before your program orientation.
Orientation is hosted by our Spain team in Madrid. 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 – Introduction to Spain, Culture and Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities, Introduction to Project and Placement as well as a tour of the local area. The orientation will also give you a chance to sign up for Spanish language lessons and to meet other volunteers with whom you can swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
Weekdays: 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.
A typical morning schedule is as follows:
7:30 AM Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.
8.30 AM Travel to placement to join local placement staff and begin work on your project. Please note that 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 travel back to the volunteer accommodation for lunch or in some cases eat a packed lunch at your placement.
2:30 PM You are free to plan for the following day’s activities or use your free time as you wish. This could include sightseeing, some shopping or taking Spanish language lessons.
8:30 PM Dinner at the volunteer accommodation. After dinner you will have the remainder of the evening free to relax and use as you wish. Please note this schedule will vary depending on the needs of your particular project.
Volunteers are accommodated in a dormitory-style house in the northern part of central Madrid. The house can accommodate up to 36 volunteers, and you can expect to share a room with between four to eight other volunteers of the same gender. The house has shared bathrooms equipped with western toilets and showers. Bedding is provided for each volunteer, however, you are required to bring your own towel. There is a female Accommodation Manager who lives on site, and she is responsible for maintaining rules and order within the volunteer accommodation.
To get to the historic city center of Madrid, you can expect a commute of between 30-45 minutes by public transportation, or 20 minutes by car.
Laundry can be done by a housekeeper at a cost of 5 € per load, and will be washed and dried for you by the end of the day if you place your request that morning.
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.
From Monday to Friday, volunteers are provided with three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Breakfast and lunch are self-serve at the volunteer accommodation with ingredients provided for volunteers to prepare their own breakfast and lunch as needed. Cereals, fruit, toast, eggs, milk, juice and coffee will be provided for breakfast, while vegetables, rice, and some protein will be available for volunteers to prepare their lunch. A cooked meal will be provided to all volunteers for dinner. As eating out is common and affordable in Spain, volunteers will need to inform the local team on a daily basis if they will be present for meals. During the weekend, a self-serve breakfast will still be available to volunteers at the accommodation, however lunch and dinner is not provided over the weekend. Tap water is fine to drink in Spain, however bottled water is readily available if you prefer and you should budget approximately US$10 per week for this.
“Volunteering with IVHQ was a rewarding and unforgettable experience. Working with other like-minded volunteers on worthwhile projects was such a fantastic way to spend the summer. The local team were fantastic, very accommodating. The children were a joy and pleasure to work with. I felt although I was only with them a short time I made a positive impact on their lives. My favourite moment of my volunteering experience was making balloon swords with the kids and seeing the excitement and joy on their faces. Working with them has made a lasting impact on my life. I would highly recommend volunteering in Spain!” – Olivia Beer (Teaching in Spain)
Volunteers have the weekends free and there is no shortage of great things to see and do in Spain! The country is overflowing with history, art, culture, cuisine and natural beauty! Volunteers can fill their free time in Madrid visiting the many historical sites and attractions, and dining on incredible tapas. Within an hour commute of Madrid, volunteers can experience El Escorial and its monastery, the Castle of Manzanares el Real, Alcalá de Henares, Toledo, Segovia and Cuenca. Volunteers staying for longer durations, or who wish to travel before or after their program, can visit areas further afield in Spain including; Granada, Barcelona and so much more! Volunteers can make travel arrangements once in Madrid, with the advice and guidance of our local team.
See our Spain Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in Spain!
Weather and climate: Being such a large country, the climate of Spain is very varied. The coastal regions to the north are cool and humid, with 14°c (57°f) being the average annual temperature. The central plateau, encompassing Madrid where our program is based, is cold in winter while hot in summer. Madrid has an average winter temperature of about 8°c (46°f) with the summer average being 23°c (73°f). Andalucía and the Levante have a temperate climate with the exception of summer, when temperatures can soar to above 40°c (104°f). Average annual rainfall in the northern coastal regions is around 99 cm (39 in), the southern coastal belt has about 41–79 cm (16–31 in), and the interior central plain has an annual average of up to 50 cm (20 in).
Volunteers must be over 18 years of age at the beginning of the program unless travelling with a parent or guardian. Volunteers must speak fluent English. Volunteers must email a recent criminal background check* to IVHQ’s partner organization staff at least 2 weeks prior to arrival in Spain. Volunteers must have adequate volunteer travel insurance. Spanish is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Spain program, however we recommend volunteers take advantage of the highly affordable Spanish lessons offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers by our partner organization in Spain.
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.
Language Lessons: Spanish language lessons are available for all volunteers 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 organized upon arrival in Spain during the program orientation. 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. Spanish lessons must be paid for once in Spain to our local team.
- 2 hour small group lessons (10 hours per week, 3 student minimum): US$85 per week
- 1 hour private lessons (5 hours per week): US$120 per week