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Special Needs Support Volunteering in Barcelona - Spain

Special Needs Support Volunteering in Barcelona - Spain

Provide care & connection for those with disabilities
Start dates
Programs start every second and fourth Monday of the month
Choose from 2-12 weeks
Volunteer hours
Up to 5 hours a day
Volunteers aged 18+
Dormitory-style hostel
Program fees
From $1240 for 2 weeks
What's included
Find out here
Apply for free
'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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.

Project details

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.

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?

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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

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 at the volunteer 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 Volunteers usually have dinner around this time. Please remember that you will need to purchase your own dinner from a local restaurant or supermarket.


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

Prepare for an exciting stay just a short distance from Barcelona’s bustling city center! Volunteers will be accommodated in a vibrant dormitory-style hostel, offering a lively atmosphere and the chance to meet other volunteers and travelers. Each room accommodates up to eight individuals of the same gender, providing a comfortable and sociable environment.

Expect modern conveniences like shared ensuite bathrooms with hot showers, cozy bedding, reading lamps and individual sockets next to each bed, and air conditioning. Each volunteer will have their own, complete with a provided lock. While towels are not provided, they can be rented from the hostel reception for a small fee, approximately $3 (approximately $3) - $4 (approximately $4), or you’re welcome to bring your own towel from home.

The hostel features communal spaces including a welcoming living room, dining area, fully-equipped kitchen, and a spacious outdoor terrace, perfect for socializing and enjoying meals together.

WiFi is available in the hostel, free of charge, and can also be accessed from many cafes and restaurants in the area. If you would like to keep connected during your stay, it’s recommended to bring an unlocked mobile phone and purchase a local SIM card once you arrive in Spain.

Private room upgrades with shared or private bathrooms can be arranged upon request for an additional cost, subject to availability.


Volunteers are provided with breakfast and lunch everyday.

Breakfast is self-serve at the volunteer accommodation and typically consists of fruit, bread, jam, cereal, milk, tea, and coffee.

Lunch is provided at the volunteer accommodation’s restaurant, according to a fixed menu. Meals typically include pasta, rice, meat, seafood, vegetable and salad dishes.

Dinner is not included in the program and you will need to purchase this yourself. You can expect to budget around $13 (approximately $13) - $23 (approximately $23) for dinner, however; prices will vary depending on what type of establishment you choose to purchase your dinner from.

Tap water is safe to drink in Barcelona but if you would prefer to drink bottled water, it is readily available and volunteers should budget approximately $5 (approximately $5)- $8 (approximately $8) per week for two liters of water per day.

If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when submitting your application so we can make arrangements for you. As you will be living and volunteering abroad, you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home; however, the local team will do their best to ensure you are well taken care of.


  • USD

Spots are limited. For a Registration Fee of just US$329 (approximately $329) you secure your spot and unlock all our preparation and training tools.

You don't need to worry about paying your Program Fee until you get closer to your start date.

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 $1,240 Equivalent to $89/day
3 weeks $1,700 Equivalent to $81/day
4 weeks $2,160 Equivalent to $77/day
5 weeks $2,620 Equivalent to $75/day
6 weeks $3,080 Equivalent to $73/day
8 weeks $4,000 Equivalent to $71/day
10 weeks $4,920 Equivalent to $70/day
12 weeks $5,840 Equivalent to $70/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately $329) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Spain generally find US$100 to be sufficient for weekly expenses including dinner, transportation and miscellaneous spending.
  • Any changes or cancellations within 14 days of your start date are subject to a US$200 late change/cancellation fee.
  • Breakfast and lunch
  • Airport pick-up
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • 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.

  • Transport to and from your placement each day
  • Return to the airport when your program finishes
  • Dinner
  • US$10 per night for the Barcelona City Tax, paid directly to the accommodation upon arrival.
  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

Free-time experiences & tours in Barcelona

Take your volunteer experience to the next level with IVHQ's affordable activity and tour add-ons in Barcelona! Explore your options below and learn how to book them once you've been accepted onto the IVHQ Barcelona program.

Spanish Language Lessons - Ten Hour Intensive Class
Spanish Language Lessons - Ten Hour Intensive Class

Want to improve your Spanish language skills while volunteering in Spain? There’s no better time or more affordable way to gain confidence speaking, reading and writing in Spanish!

From $326

Check what's required to visit Spain

Safety and support

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

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.

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