10 Places You Can Volunteer At In Your Free Time {& Make A Difference}

Upasana posted on 13 September

Ten-Second Takeaway

Kolkata has plenty of organisations that need an extra set of helping hands. Whether your concern is for human rights, gender, communalism, there are many ways to improve lives. So go ahead, get involved, and give back to society.

PeaceWorks

PeaceWorks was formed after the 2002 Gujarat riots to deal with communal violence {and violent tendencies in individuals while they were still young}. They combined creative forms of education like storytelling, puppetry and performance to sensitise children to real-life issues and problems of communalism and gender.

Since it is a Seagull India initiative {it is a city-based arts group}, many artists, theater persons and academics contribute to this community-led process which works almost entirely on a voluntary basis. At the end of the year they hold a festival called Golpo Mela, where all the children from different centers come together and perform their stories.

They take the volunteering work very seriously so it is preferred that you are aware of the time you are able to contribute and you don’t flake! They’re always looking for artists, videographers, photographers or writers {anyone who can document the work and changes from day-to-day classes} Being creative, sensitive and enthusiastic about stories is a pre-requisite for this work. People who volunteer for a prolonged period of about three months also get an internship certificate. Check them out here.

Contact: feedback@seagullindia.com

Book Stores

36, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Road, Bakul Bagan, Kalighat, Kolkata

4.2
ic_star_full_black_48px copy

Responsible Charity

Founded by Cuban American Hemley Gonzalez, Responsible Charity has been active since 2008 working with children from oppressed backgrounds in Kolkata {and Pune}. They focus primarily on education, family planning and sustainability. They have many classes on a regular basis for children and the ones who excel are given scholarships to private schools.

Their team is dedicated, warm and extremely efficient. Volunteers are always welcome here, provided that they are willing to commit time – the duration for volunteering and internships is three consecutive months where they are assigned one to four days a week {for two to three-hour sessions}. They also issue certificates at the end of the programme. If you’re considering getting involved in working with kids and families which live in poverty, then Responsible Charity is a great place to start and learn! Check them out here.

Contact: 033 40048442; volunteer@responsiblecharity.org

NGOs

22, Kali Bari Lane, Shaktigarh, Jadavpur, Kolkata

4.6
ic_star_full_black_48px copy

Samabhabona {Baishamya Durikaron Samiti}

If you are interested in working with gender, there is a lot to learn from the members of this organisation, all of whom come from extremely difficult backgrounds and fight everyday for their identity. They work in the suburbs and organise protests and workshops on a regular basis to sensitise the community towards gender issues. They are always looking for volunteers to help out with writing work and organising errands.

The founders include Raina Roy, Amrita Sarker, Rajani Das, Suphee Biswas and Dipmalya Bhattacharya. The organisation will also provide you with a certificate at the end of your volunteering period. Check them out here.

Contact: +91 84206 91605; bds.samabhabona@gmaill.com

Skateboarding Kolkata

I recently wrote about why Skateboarding Kolkata is all sorts of awesome {read about it here}. They also focus on a community-led effort to help kids from disadvantaged backgrounds feel empowered and express themselves through sport.

They are constantly looking for volunteers. The work takes up about two hours of a couple of Sundays every month. To learn more about how this underground sport is changing lives and taking form in this city, do contact them and fill up their volunteer form. And check out their Facebook page here.

Calcutta Rescue

Started by Dr. Jack Preger, in 1991, this used to be a streetside clinic which was accessible to people from underprivileged backgrounds. Since then it has grown to various parts of the city and their projects include health programmes, education, handicrafts and provision of safe drinking water.

Their primary focus is towards ensuring excellent, free healthcare for children. Many doctors from different parts of the city, country and the world volunteer here. Nurses, pharmacists, midwives also help out. Non-medical volunteers handle the administrative work that makes this effort possible. They’re also interested in artistic and creative individuals to help grow their handicrafts project. Check out their website here for more information.

Contact:  033 40648277

NGOs

4th Floor, 85 Collin Street, Taltala, Kolkata

4.6
ic_star_full_black_48px copy

People’s Film Collective

People’s Film Collective is a group which has been doing some incredibly groundbreaking work by screening world cinema, documentaries, films, and holding discussions that are accessible to almost everyone. They also organise lovely neighbourhood film screenings for children called “Little Cinema” which take place outdoors in Kolkata’s alleys and lanes. The famous Kolkata People’s Film Festival, which is a week-long event of film screenings is also part of their main work.

This is definitely one of the most creative forms of activism in the city and a large part of their work is on a volunteer basis. From August 15th  to November 15th, they are running a special shout out to all film lovers interested in speaking up against communal hatred and fascism.

If you have time to contribute and are willing to commit to this project, do contact them. You can check out their website here. And Facebook page here.

Contact: 9163736863

Little Sisters Of The Poor

The Little Sisters of the Poor on AJC Bose Road houses old folks. If you enjoy spending time with old folks, you should sign up to volenteer here. They have timings for volunteers {mornings and evenings on all days of the week} but you have to inform them in advance when you will be coming. It’s a bonus if you have a letter from your college or educational institution. Although there are plenty of volunteers during the festive season, they requre help throughout the year so lend a hand whenever you can.

Tollygunge Homes

Run by the East India Charitable Trust, the Tollygunge Homes houses old folks in their huge property {the property houses a lake, farm, and more – the senior citizens even grow their own organic veggies}. You can contact them and let them know when you’re coming in – the old people especially love playing Bingo and watching performances so you should include that in your itenerary.

Kolkata Sanved

They use therapeutic properties of dance and movement to heal, empower, and rehabilitate survivors of trafficking and violence. Founded by Ashoka Fellow Sohini Chakraborty, a sociologist and dance activist, their reach has gradually expanded across India, Bangladesh and Nepal. They also work with mental health patients, women and children with HIV/AIDS, domestic workers, railway platform children, and mainstream school children. Apart from volunteering at their space, you can also do online volunteering – grant writing, workshop designing, contributing to brochures, translating, or in any other way you would like. Find out more here.

New Light

A charitable trust, New Light is all about providing a safe shelter, heath care, educational opportunities, recreation and legal aid for women who have been victims of trafficking and abuse. Their office is in Kalighat, one of the oldest red light areas of Kolkata. They expect volunteers to put in minimum 14 working days. Get in touch with them here. And check out their Facebook page here.