Organisations to Volunteer For in Cape Town

Among the volunteering opportunities available to visitors in South Africa, SANCCOB dedicates its efforts to preserving the country's amazing variety of bird-life
Among the volunteering opportunities available to visitors in South Africa, SANCCOB dedicates its efforts to preserving the country's amazing variety of bird-life
Photo of Andrew Thompson
Freelance Writer - Instagram.com/andrewthompsonsa26 April 2021

If you’re looking to do more than just sightseeing in Cape Town, then volunteering at a local organisation can give you amazing insight into local communities and initiatives. Read Culture Trip’s guide to the organisations that offer volunteer opportunities in Cape Town.

Cape Town draws visitors to its beautiful coastal surroundings, lush vineyards and vibrant city life. Beyond the usual activities of wine tasting and hiking Table Mountain, there are many organisations in dire need of assistance. And if you’re already a resident, there’s no reason why you can’t also get involved and offer up some of your free time. Not only will community service allow you to give back, but it will help you gain a deeper understanding of South African culture.

Organisations range from animal shelters to soup kitchens. Although most will accept anyone’s assistance, there are several companies that exist to help with placement and logistics for foreign visitors. These companies charge fees to volunteer workers, but many provide a level of backup and support while in South Africa that are worth the extra charge.

DARG

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DARG is the Domestic Animal Rescue Group. It is a non-profit organisation that rescues and cares for previously neglected, abused and abandoned dogs and cats. It’s situated in the popular seaside suburb of Hout Bay, and does a lot of work to assist surrounding communities and their pets. Much of its work is done by volunteers, and it is always looking for passionate and dedicated people to get involved with its projects.

TEARS

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Police Operations and Essential Services Personnel operating under lockdown period in Fish Hoek and Masipumelela in the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, RSA Banele Nondlala, who works at the animal rescue society TEARS is one of
© Abaca Press / Alamy
TEARS (The Emma Animal Rescue Society) is another well-respected animal rescue centre in Cape Town. Based in Sunnydale, it does an immense amount of good work to help neglected and abused domestic animals. As a volunteer, you’ll be able to help with dog walking, cat cuddling (yes, really!), training, upkeep of the kennels and supporting its charity shops. It accepts volunteers aged 16 and over, including dog walkers.

Etafeni

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"Etafeni" day health center in the Nyanga township, kindergarten and support for people living with AIDS, Cape Town
© imageBROKER / Alamy
Etafeni has done remarkable work with young children in the Cape Town township of Nyanga for many years. It provides a care centre for children affected by AIDS and their caregivers. As part of the programme, it provides a preschool, vegetable garden, nutritional guidance and an AIDS counsellor programme. Though much of the work is specialised, Etafeni is always looking for volunteers from across the spectrum to assist.

Haven Night Shelter

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Salaji Ali Xolela Mtuse stay Haven night shelter in Wynberg Cape Town They both learning vital job skills in shelter's organic
© Nikki Rixon / Africa Media Online / Alamy

The Haven Night Shelter has branches throughout Cape Town that do a vast amount of good work for the city’s homeless population. They offer people from all walks of life the opportunity to volunteer and give back to the community. Volunteers get involved with meaningful tasks at either specific shelters, or the Haven Shelter Head Office. In-shelter roles include preparing meals and collecting essential donated items.

Ikhaya Le Themba

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Ikhaya Lethemba | Courtesy of Ikhaya Lethemba
This non-profit organisation based in Hout Bay runs holistic after-school care programmes for children of the informal settlement of Imizamo Yethu. It provides physical and emotional care for a wide range of children in need, and accepts volunteer assistance from anyone able to allocate some time. There are several projects to get involved in, from traditional after-school activities, through to fundraising, online and marketing assistance.

SANCCOB

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South Africa is home to a variety of amazing coastal bird-life, although much has come under threat from pollution and human activities. The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) is attempting to reverse some of the damage that has already been done. It has a dedicated team that helps rescue and rehabilitate a wide range of sea birds, and is always looking for assistance from local and international volunteers. Volunteers will have the opportunity to work alongside the team and, weather permitting, can accompany them on a seabird release trip at the end of the programme.

Scalabrini Centre

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Cape Town’s Scalabrini Centre takes more than 2,000 refugees, migrants and asylum seekers each month and assists them with various programmes to help with integration into local society. It works closely with volunteers who assist in all aspects of their work, including welfare, advocacy, development and outreach programmes. It offers part- and full-time volunteer opportunities, but due to the nature of the work request that volunteers spend a minimum of three months with the organisation.

Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women & Children

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The Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women & Children (SBCWC) does amazing work to assist women who are survivors of abuse. It provides safe spaces for survivors, and offers assistance child care and legal advice. It has several volunteer opportunities available, which include everything from hands-on farming and maintenance through to volunteer counselling for those trained to do so.

Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust

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Cape Town, South Africa. 01st Mar, 2016. Barbara Williams, director of psychological counseling services with the Rape Crisis aid organization flips through a brochure for rape victims in Cape Town, South Africa, 01 March 2016. She spoke with Buyiswa Ntsa
© dpa picture alliance / Alamy
Rape Crisis is the oldest organisation in South Africa that offers assistance to rape survivors. It supports survivors, helps them to seek justice, and works to transform communities. It offers an intensive volunteer programme that includes training and orientation, but due to the nature of the work, typically ask that volunteers commit to a minimum number of hours each month over the period of one year.

Oude Molen Eco Village

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Oude Molen Eco Village is a vibrant multi-purpose village set in a unique location in Cape Town. The village is home to a range of respected social enterprises providing valuable services that also benefit the local communities. These include wood and craft workshops, food gardens, a public pool, an elderly care centre, horse riding school and backpacker’s accommodation. It accepts volunteers on a number of levels, including at the organic farm and stables. You do need to speak English and be available for minimum of one month.
These recommendations were updated on April 26, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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