Free (or Cheap) Volunteer Work in Spain
Spain has numerous opportunities for volunteers, from local grassroots organisations to expat projects, house sitting and hostel volunteering.
Grassroots Volunteering in Spain
The organisations listed below have either got in touch with us to add their details to this or another of our websites, or we otherwise have reason to believe they are actively looking for international volunteers and charge reasonable or no fees to join in, live and work with them:
Diverbo (formerly Pueblo Ingles) creates English speaking environments for their Spanish students by taking over a village and flooding it with native English speakers. English speaking volunteers are matched up with Spanish students who want to learn English. All volunteers have to do is talk English for up to 16 hours a day and help create an engaging English speaking environment where students can learn English outside of the classroom. Armed with stories of travels and experiences from your day to day life, you must be a patient, outgoing native English speaker, aged 22 to 80, with a professional and/or academic background. Programmes last a week and run most of the year with most dates available in the summer. There is also a programme for teens aged 13 to 17.
Where: Diverbo has grown to several venues across Spain.
Accommodation & Costs: No fee required but volunteers need to cover their own expenses before and after the programme dates. Rural style hotel lodging and food and drinks is provided.
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Sunseed Desert Technology
Situated in an off grid ecovillage, SDT’s lively international community made up of staff and volunteers work and learn together to develop, demonstrate, research and communicate alternative low tech methods of living sustainably in a semi arid environment. Volunteers are encouraged to be ambitious, innovative, and experimental. Pushing self projects forward is one of Sunseed’s main objectives.
Where: Near Almeria, in the Southeast of Spain.
Accommodation & Costs: Short term volunteers participate 25 hours per week, Monday to Friday mornings, paying 150€ per week to cover basic accommodation, vegetarian/vegan food and project costs. Longer term volunteers, staying over five weeks, contribute 35 hours and 100€ per week. Those willing and able to stay for one year may be interested in the role of staff coordinator, receiving free board and accommodation and a small weekly allowance.
ATYLA International Training Ship Foundation
This non profit operates the ATYLA, a tall ship sailing the seas providing exciting and challenging experiences specially designed to nurture the development of responsible leaders, encourage individuals to become proactive team players, and create respectful, open-minded members of society. The project is mainly funded by individuals that pay to sail as trainees but scholarships are available to ensure all people, regardless of economic background, are able to engage in the incredible experience aboard. Priority for scholarships is given to those aged 15 to 25.
During the winter ATYLA normally stays at her homeport, the Maritime Museum of Bilbao, where her crew runs local educational activities and complete essential maintenance works. Maintenance work includes carpentry and woodwork, painting, repairs, electrics, plumbing, cooking and cleaning. More information here. Other ways to donate your time can be found at www.atyla.org/donate-your-time.
Where: At sea for the scholarships. Bilbao for winter maintenance.
Accommodation & Costs: Three types of scholarship are available, providing up to 100% of the voyage price plus travel expenses. In the winter full board accommodation in your own private bunk is provided on the ship, plus €100 sailing credit for each month you volunteer on board.
Hostel Work Exchanges
Many hostels use help exchange networks (see below) to find volunteer staff but the following either advertise on their websites or are particularly noted for taking on volunteers:
Invites people to join their volunteer programme and learn Spanish by talking to their guests and working with Spanish staff. Groceries and accommodation are included.
Feetup have accommodation in Barcelona, Valencia and Seville where they offer internships to those that wish to work in Spain and learn Spanish – though providing further information on their site in that language alone is quite thougtless. Work is on reception or online marketing.
Sant Jordi Hostels
The diverse team of talented and dedicated individuals at Sant Jordi Hostels come from different parts of the world and are passionate about traveling. To join them you should want to make every guest’s visit to Barcelona an unforgettable experience by being empathetic, enthusiastic, open, collaborative, responsible, honest and facilitating culture.
Las Musas Hostel
Madrid’s Las Musas Hostel values all types of skills in their volunteers, even with little or no experience, and will send a bed and breakfast your way in return for part time work. The only requirement is that you have a commitment to quality service and a good level of English.
Way Hostel accepts candidates for part time volunteer. Bed and breakfast is offered in exchange for your help. The basic concept of Way Hostel is to provide cheap accommodation, but quality in the center of Madrid and they look for volunteers who can help them carry out their idea with joy and responsibility. There are only two requirements: you should speak a very good level of English and be pursuing a college degree. The term of your stay will be flexible according to your needs and the hostels.
More Hostel Work Exchanges
Oasis Backpackers Hostels say working in the Oasis is fun, and a great team will be there to offer support and make the time at work is worthwile. In return they need your dedication to offer the best service possible to their guests, so bring a customer-orientated mind. You need to speak English and Spanish and have a European passport. Try also Generator Hostels, who have a hostel in Barcelona.
Though we couldn’t find any information on their website the Linkedin profile of one Beatrice Ruscellia says she worked as a housekeeping assistant at Cadiz Inn on a work exchange programme. I see no reason why we all can’t do so too. Before that Beatrice for the same group in Seville.
Casa Bombo, in Granada, are constantly looking for young spirited, motivated, energetic and fun volunteers to join their team to clean, serve, shop, tend bar and lead guests on walking tours. Food and accommodation flows the other way. Mature and responsible people aged 25+ preferred. Two month commitment essential.
Malaga’s X Hostel takes on people for general housekeeping, bar work and pub crawl leading. There is another in X Hostel in Alicante, and more across Europe in Bucharest, Budapest, Tallinn and Varna. At the time of writing their website was unavailable but they say they’ll be back soon.
Volunteer work at Hostival is only available in Pamplona during the Running of the Bulls because after that they take themselves off to Edinburgh and Munich for the famous festivals held in those cities. Accommodation is basic – just a bed and a shower and toilet because Hostival is temporary overflow festival accommodation – but comes with food and spending money. In return volunteers take care of Hostival’s drunken customers.
Owner, volunteers and guests are described as one big happy family in one review we have seen for Casa Calma Yoga Guesthouse, in Agaete, Gran Canaria. Volunteers can lead wellness activities in exchange for donations from guests but they prefer to recruit via Workaway.
Other Opportunities to Volunteer in Spain
In the same ancient 50 strong Andalusian village as Sunseed Desert Technology (see above) exist a number of other creative projects. More information on the village, Los Molinos del Rio Agua, and the inter related groups that have found a home here can be read in this article. Spanish speakers may be able to use google to glean if some of the projects mentioned in the piece are still going. Of these Pita-Escuela, a centre for environmental arts education, started by a former SDT volunteer has an English language website. Aside from skilled wood workers, their get involved page requests help in marketing, planning, financing and funding strategy, social media, film making and photography, web design, online sales, etc. Some EU funding may be an option for longer stayers.
Help Exchange Networks in Spain
Other Ways to Travel or Stay for Free in Spain
Stay for free in return for caring for local residents’ homes or pets. Join Trusted Housesitters to live rent free as a house sitter (Americans may prefer this link). Spain usually has house sits available but, if not, you can get a free Airbnb credit from us here.
Volunteering On A Vineyard in the Spanish Pyrenees – Emma Higgins finds she now knows far more Spanish words for construction tools than the average visitor to Spain.
Volunteering in a Boutique Hotel in Andalusia, Spain – Els volunteers abroad for the first time, helping out in a hotel run by a British couple.
Habla Ingles? English Language Immersion in Spain – Lisa Lubin enjoys wine and three meals a day in a four star villa. Just for talking.
Working Holidays in Andalusia Spain – Though the Mediterranean coast is a major tourist destination infamous for sun burn, piss ups and the absence of local culture, volunteering on farms gave Jonathon and Emma Engels a different impression of southern Spain.
Work Exchange in the Spanish Countryside – After making breakfast with fresh eggs and showering with a view, Sonja wanders with the dogs up and down rolling hills before cleaning the dust from a traditional Andalusian style house.
* not all these volunteer experiences are with grassroots NGOs or low cost organisations
Image copyright Sunseed Desert Technology