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We are a Scottish charity founded in 1968, which works with people who experience homelessness. We have a number of different services which involve volunteers. Peer mentor roles are within our residential communities.
We are looking for enthusiastic and motivated people to volunteer as residential peer mentors in our communities. Volunteers should be able to commit for a minimum of six months and must be aged 18-30 to ensure they are peers to the young people we support.
We have been running residential communities for over 50 years. Our model is based on empowering residents, supporting them to develop the abilities, skills and confidence to live independently. The communities house up to 15 residents and 12 volunteers in two locations. There are currently spaces in both communities which are:
The Farm: located in a semi-rural location, 10 miles from Edinburgh City Centre. The site is shared with our social enterprise organic farm, giving residents and volunteers the opportunity to be involved with the work there as well as community life. This is a great location for outdoor activities.
The City: located in Leith, about 2 miles from Edinburgh City Centre. There are lots of activities and amenities close-by with the benefits of city living.
Both communities come together regularly for events socialising.
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help around the house
All food and accommodation costs are met by the communities and volunteers receive weekly pocket money and holiday allowance along with a contribution to costs of travelling to the placement.
Training is offered monthly, on topics relevant to life in the communities, with the opportunity to access other training within the organisation and externally.
The experience can be used as part of university course placement or to gain practical knowledge and skills within a social care setting. There is the opportunity to learn about social work, youth work and community education. Many previous volunteers go on to careers in those fields.
Support is a significant part of the volunteer experience with regular supervision sessions and peer support to ensure that volunteers are confident in their roles and any issues are quickly resolved.
Residential Peer Mentors live alongside the residents, and together with staff are closely involved in the running of the communities and the activities they undertake. As peer mentors, the role of volunteers is to live alongside residents and offer support and encouragement in daily tasks and activities. Volunteers model behavior to residents in sharing chores, responsibilities and decision making with a focus on empowering the residents to gain skills and confidence in their abilities.
There is also scope for volunteers with specific interests to share those with residents and other volunteers.
We welcome volunteers from across the world and find that multicultural volunteer backgrounds bring many benefits to life in the communities. Please note that those from outwith the EU require a Tier 5 charity worker visa to volunteer with us.
Communities also have staff members who have a distinct role from volunteers. Staff members offer a structured system of support and keywork, helping residents to engage with other services.
We are looking for volunteers who are approachable, positive, enthusiastic and willing to get involved. It is important that volunteers have a good level of written and spoken English as communication is key to this role. Volunteers must also be able to maintain set boundaries and maintain confidentiality while living with vulnerable adults.
Volunteers are on-shift approximately eight times per week, with a mixture of daytime and evening shifts. Although the time is over 25hrs per week, in reality much of this time is simply being available to residents, and a daytime shift could easily be spent simply being in or around the house, cooking, playing games with volunteers or residents, helping at the farm etc. depending on the interests of the volunteer. During the day, while staff are on site, there is often the opportunity to do activities outside the house, with or without residents, even while on shift.
Volunteers have their own bedroom at the Farm Community and share with another volunteer at the City Community. Bathrooms, kitchens, diningrooms, livingrooms and laundry facilities are shared between volunteers and residents.
MAKING THE MOST OF BEING IN EDINBURGH
Edinburgh, Auld Reekie, the Athens of the North. Whatever name you call it, the capital of Scotland is a great place to be.
To help you make the most of your time here, we’ve put together this handy guide of free or low-cost things to do and see on a volunteer’s budget. Some are one-offs that it’s great to do if you have a bit of free time, and some are suggestions as to how you might like to engage in regular hobbies or interests in the Edinburgh community. We’ve often found that the volunteers who get the most out of their time with us are those who develop a life for themselves outside of our community, whether that be through joining a sports team, taking an art class or listening to live music.
MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES
National Gallery of Scotland – Free (Special Exhibitions may have a cost)
Open daily 10am-5pm.
The Mound, Edinburgh, EH2 2EL
Scottish National Portrait Gallery – Free (Special exhibitions may have a cost)
Open daily 10am-5pm.
1 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JD, UK
Scottish Gallery of Modern Art – Free (Special Exhibitions may have a cost)
Open daily 10am-5pm
75 Belford Road, Edinburgh, EH4 3DR
The Fruitmarket Gallery – Free
Open daily, Mon-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 12-5pm
45 Market Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1DF
National Museum of Scotland – Free
Open daily 10am – 5pm
Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF
Edinburgh Writers’ Museum – Free
Open Mon – Sat 10am-5pm, Sunday 12pm-5pm (only open on Sundays in August)
Lady Stair’s Close, Edinburgh, EH1 2PA
Museum of Childhood – Free (Only galleries 1-3 are accessible)
Open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12pm-5pm
42 High St, Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 1TG
Museum of Edinburgh - Free
Open Mon – Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12pm-5pm (only open on Sundays in August)
Huntly House, 142 Canongate, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH8 8DD
The People’s Story Museum – Free (Only ground and first floor are accessible)
Open Mon – Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12pm-5pm (only open on Sundays in August)
Canongate Tolbooth, Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH8 8BN
SIGHTS TO SEE
Arthurs Seat and Holyrood Park
The extinct volcano and surrounding parkland which dominate Edinburgh’s skyline are a must-see. Holyrood Park is also referred to as the Queen’s Park due to its Royal status – you can spot little crowns on top of the street lamps at the entrances to the park.
Bobby was a Skye Terrier Dog who lived in the late 1800s who, legend has it, spent 14 years guarding the grave of his former owner John Gray. His loyalty has been commemorated in a statue on George IV Bridge where many people like to rub his nose. However, Edinburgh council is trying to discourage this practice as it’s wearing down the statue, meaning Bobby might soon be nose-less!
Calton Hill provides wonderful views over Edinburgh and allows you to see the National Monument of Scotland, which was started in the 1820s after the Napoleonic Wars and never finished, up close. Also on Calton Hill is the Nelson Monument and the Dugald Stewart Monument – both impressive parts of Edinburgh’s skyline.
Princes Street Gardens
Princes Street Gardens used to be underwater until the 1760s when Edinburgh Town Council drained the sewage filled Nor Loch to make way for the railway line. These days, the Princes Street Gardens are a lovely place to relax in the sunshine with great views up to Edinburgh Castle. For a small fee you can climb the Scott Monument in the gardens or go and tell the time from the Floral Clock.
On a sunny day it’s lovely to wander along Portobello beach front, called ‘The Promenade’. Once a thriving tourist destination, Portobello now boasts a quiet retreat from the noise of Edinburgh city centre. If you have a leisure card, the Portobello swim centre still offers Turkish baths and once counted Sean Connery (the first James Bond) amongst their life guards!
St Giles Cathedral
This Church of Scotland cathedral has steadily expanded over the years, making it an architectural masterpiece that shouldn’t be missed.
The Royal Mile is comprised of several streets which all run into each other creating a road which is one Scots Mile long. It is rich with history with the city’s St Giles Cathedral, John Knox house and endless cobbled closes (or “wynds”) that turn off from the main street.
The Grassmarket, as its name suggests, was once a thriving marketplace where horses (and their hay or grass) were bought and sold. It was also the site of public executions when the death penalty was still in place. It’s now a thriving spot with cafes, pubs and lovely shops up the colourful Victoria Street.
Royal Botanic Gardens
The second oldest Botanic Gardens in the UK after Oxford, the Royal Edinburgh Botanic Gardens boasts lots of plants and a stunning glasshouse (which does cost a small fee to get into but the rest of the Gardens are free)
Dunbars Close Garden
Although this little garden is just off the Royal Mile it deserves a mention of its own. It’s a little known secret but highly recommended.
Waters of Leith Walkway
The full Waters of Leith Walkway is just under 20km and runs from Leith all the way up to Balerno but you can start and stop at any point. The walkway actually finishes very close to the City Community and provides a lovely stroll along the waterway through some beautiful parts of Edinburgh.
Dean Village is one particularly attractive feature on the Leith Walkway and really requires a visit of its own. Once home to Edinburgh’s mills, Dean Village now provides a tranquil oasis of calm despite being in the middle of the city.
Duddingston is absolutely unmissable. Believed to be one of the oldest settlements around Arthur’s Seat, it now boasts quaint cobbled streets and houses and looks out over a bird sanctuary on Duddingston Loch. Make sure to visit Dr. Neil’s garden whilst you’re there – it’s a bit tricky to find but definitely worth it.
There’s no better place to watch a sunset than Blackford Hill. With beautiful views over Edinburgh and the impressive Royal Observatory building it’s a gorgeous spot on a sunny evening.
FREE SHOWS, MUSIC AND DANCING
Some of the best shows, music and dancing that you can access for free all year round:
Live music and reasonably priced drinks. Always a great atmosphere.
The Stand Comedy Club: “Who’s Lunch Is It Anyway?”
Sunday lunchtime free comedy show. Guaranteed to raise a laugh.
Cabaret Voltaire: Live at the Cafe
Free live DJ set every Monday. Bar opens at 5pm, DJ sets from 10pm – 3am. Drinks from £2.50
Grassmarket Community Project
Free monthly film screenings and other events
Want to learn a little more about Edinburgh and our history? There are several free or low cost tours you can take.
Edinburgh Free Walking Tour
This free walking tour runs every day of the year from 1pm to 3pm. Meeting on the Royal Mile, the tour covers all the main sights of Edinburgh as well as many lesser known facts and things of interest. Participants are invited to donate at the end according to their budget and how much they enjoyed the tour.
Free Tour of Scottish Parliament
The Scottish Parliament can be visited at any time, but if you wish to see beyond the public areas we would recommend booking onto this free tour. Covering the history and work of the Scottish Parliament, you can also learn about the award winning architecture of this unusual building.
Visit for more ideas of walking tours that cover all the most important and interesting things to see. A great inspiration if you have friends or family visiting for a few days. This Is Edinburgh’s website also has lots of ideas for things to do in Edinburgh – check it out.
Cafés and Restaurants for Cheap and Cheerful Eats
The Mosque Kitchen
31-33 Nicholson Square • 10am – 9.30pm Every Day
Great for: Apparently the best curry in Edinburgh. Certainly some of the cheapest.
Mum’s Comfort Food
4a Forrest Road • 9am-10pm Mon-Sat, 10am-10pm Sunday
Great for: Warming British comfort food such as Sausage and Mash and Stew
21 George IV Bridge • 8am-10pm (Opens 9am Sat & Sun & closes 11pm Fri & Sat)
Great for: Those who love Harry Potter! JK Rowling wrote her novels here.
34 Victoria Street, Grassmarket • 82 Canongate • 11am-6pm (closes 5pm Sunday)
Great for: a top notch hog roast
23/4 Howe Street • 8am-5pm (opens 9am Sat and 10am Sun)
Great for: Everything! But the quiche of the day is always phenomenal.
Red Box Noodle Bar
51 West Nicholson St • 12noon-10pm
Great for: Tasty noodles at a good price.
Union of Genius
8 Forrest Road • 10am-4pm Mon to Fri and 12noon – 4pm Sat
Great for: Tasty soup at a bargain price – they also support us amongst other charities source their produce as ethically and locally as possible.
Green Police Box on Lauriston Place (top of Meadows Walk) • 10am-6pm Mon-Sat
Great for: Brazilian gluten free crepes – might sound bizarre but honestly the best food in Edinburgh.
141 Lauriston Place • 10am-11pm
Great for: lots of events and fun things going on. Run by volunteers.
Noughts and Coffee
26-28 Morrison Street • Coming soon…
Great for: those who love board games which are available to use.
Food, Drink, Crafts
Every Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Saunders Street EH3 6TQ
Food, Drink, Crafts
Every Saturday 10am – 5pm
Dock Place EH6 6LU
Edinburgh Farmers’ Market
Fresh Produce and Artisan Foods
Every Saturday 9am-2pm
Castle Terrace EH1 2EL
Getting involved with Edinburgh Life
Below are listed some websites you might find helpful when looking to meet people outside of the charity or take up a hobby:
• – search in the Edinburgh area for art classes, walking groups, language lessons and more. Some ask a small fee but some are free.
• – run by Edinburgh Council, JoinInEdinburgh offers everything from photography and dressmaking to yoga, karate and badminton. There are plenty of chances to improve your English or learn a new language. Many of the course are free or only cost a couple of pounds each time, others require a whole term’s commitment and are a bit pricier.
• – the British equivalent of craigslist! Search for sports teams, running groups and lots of different classes. Gumtree is also great for things such as second-hand bikes or finding a flat if you decide to stay on in Edinburgh after your volunteering placement.
• – 5 minutes walk from the City Community is the Biscuit Factory which has a rolling program of events, exhibitions and classes.
For those at the Farm
You might not always want to make the journey into Edinburgh during your time off so we’ve put together a couple of nice spots for a coffee near the Farm.
• Artisan Cheesecakes –
87 South Bridge St, Bathgate, EH48 1TJ (Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 12-6pm)
The most incredible cheesecakes that you have ever seen – or tasted!!
• Thistles Coffee Shop –
11 Main St, West Calder, EH55 8BY (Mon-Fri 8am-4pm, Sat 8.30am – 4pm)
Lovely little coffee shop
• Bus Stop Café and Sweetshop
24 South Bridge St, Bathgate, EH48 1TL (Mon-Sat 7am-4pm)
Famous for its collection of teapots.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
More than two
More than 25 hrs/ wk - please see information about rota or get in touch for more information