Getting involved with our SYHA Hostelling Scotland Volunteer Programme offers you the chance to make a difference, develop new skills and achieve a personal goal. Whether as a volunteer youth hostel assistant, undertaking products such as basic garden maintenance, painting and decorating or conservation and environmental tasks, we aim to provide all volunteers with an opportunity to use their skills in a variety of areas.

As a not-for-profit charitable organisation SYHA’s purpose is to help all, but especially young people, to experience and appreciate the Scottish countryside, environment, natural heritage and places of historic and cultural interest in Scotland. Volunteers are key in helping SYHA to achieve these charitable objectives and we greatly value the contribution our volunteers make to our organisation.

For first hand accounts of volunteering with SYHA check out our Volunteer Stories or keep reading below to find out more.

What can I expect from an SYHA Volunteering Programme?

With SYHA, volunteers can expect to find a place for non-formal learning, which will:

  • Help to build confidence
  • Provide work experience
  • Offer career development opportunities
  • Promote social interaction
  • Help to share life experiences
  • Provide relevant training
  • Support in undertaking volunteer work effectively; and
  • Offer opportunities to explore local culture, heritage, recreation, environment and wildlife interests in Scotland
What work would it involve?

Volunteer Youth Hostel Assistants

Volunteer youth hostel assistants work alongside other SYHA team members to look after our youth hostels, undertaking general duties such as housekeeping, catering, welcoming guests and providing them with travel information. All volunteers receive relevant induction training to assist in undertaking duties including health and safety training.

Volunteer Projects

SYHA has a variety of projects which volunteers can undertake, such as basic gardening (e.g. weeding, creating flower beds or planting flowers), ground maintenance (e.g. hedge/shrub cutting, removal of grass overgrowth, raking leaves) or creating a bird feeding sanctuary. Individual projects are dependent on season and location.

Duke of Edinburgh Gold Residential

We ran a pilot Gold Duke of Edinburgh residential opportunity for young people to come and volunteer at Stirling Youth Hostel during October 2017. The group had the opportunity to meet other young people, gain experience of the key tasks involved in running a youth hostel, undertake gardening and environmental tasks, help makeover the bedrooms and communal areas, gain leadership skills, and explore Stirling and the local area. More information on future projects coming soon.

How long are Volunteer Placements?

SYHA offers volunteer youth hostel assistant placements of four weeks up to a maximum of two months. We hope volunteers can give approximately 30 hours a week of their time week and will receive two consecutive days off so that they are able to explore local interests and pursue hobbies including cycling and mountain biking, hill walking, bird watching or simply enjoy the beautiful surroundings. For those volunteering at one of our city hostels, there are many museums, art galleries, theatres and places to do some shopping on days off.

We also provide university students the chance to work within youth hostels during the summer months as volunteer youth hostel assistants through our student volunteer programme. The duration of these placements is normally two months.

The aim of the student programme is to provide a non-formal learning and intercultural dimension to SYHA‘s volunteer programme, in particular helping young people to develop skills and competencies for future employment and education. These goals are achieved through working with others, residing at SYHA Youth Hostels and exploring Scottish nature, heritage and culture.

If you are interested in becoming a student volunteer, please email a completed application form to

Volunteer projects are available for a shorter period of time than placements, with most projects lasting between a few days and two weeks. Timescales are unique to each project. SYHA can provide free live-in accommodation for most volunteer programmes and on occasion basic meals where available (subject to locations).

How do I find out more and apply?

All volunteer opportunities are advertised on our vacancies page. Information is updated regularly so be sure to bookmark the page or sign up to receive our vacancy newsletter so you don't miss out.

If you are interested in a particular volunteer programme please complete an application form (download here) and email to

We ask all applicants to complete the volunteer application form as part of the selection process. We will then strive to match volunteers‘ interests with specific placement requirement, where possible. Applicants who meet the selection criteria will go through a selection process, including either face-to-face or telephone interviews, a basic disclosure check and contacting provided referees.

Overseas applicants, who have the right to work in the UK, are welcome, however we regret that we are unable to sponsor non-EU resident work visa applications.

For general volunteer queries, please email