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Image of lifeboat crew

The people of the UK and Ireland depend on the RNLI, and the RNLI depends on its network of more than 31,500 volunteers.

On lifeboats, at lifeboat stations, on beaches and as community fundraisers, in RNLI shops, education presenters in schools, at events, sea safety officers in coastal communities, museums and across our offices without volunteers we wouldn’t be able to save lives at sea.

What could you do for the RNLI?

From crewing the lifeboats to raising vital funds or awareness, or using your professional skills in our offices there are a wide variety of volunteer roles available.

If a regular volunteer commitment is too much then occasional volunteering may be for you – just an hour or two will make a difference.


Ways you can volunteer

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Lifeboat and shore crew

Image33141 -225.jpgOur volunteer crew are the backbone of the lifeboat service, physically saving lives at sea.

There are more than 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members at stations around the UK and Ireland, and another 3,000 volunteer shore crew members who support them.

They are available 24/7, whatever the weather, to rescue those who need help.

In addition to the crew, it takes many more volunteers to run a lifeboat station effectively. The Lifeboat Operations Manager is in charge of authorising launches and day-to-day station management. The Lifeboat Management Group, also made up of volunteers, represents the station in the local community.

Each station has a volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, who produces press releases and promotes the station's activity in local and regional media. There is also a Lifeboat Medical Adviser at every station, performing the crews' medicals and giving first-aid and scenario training.

Do you have what it takes to join a lifeboat station crew

Volunteer lifeguard

Lifeguard monitoring Gwithian beach - credit Greg SprayMost RNLI lifeguards are paid by the relevant local authority to maintain patrols on our busiest beaches.

But we also have volunteer lifeguards. Some are newly qualified lifeguards gaining experience, while others just enjoy helping out in their spare time.

We have two operational lifeguarding rolls that a volunteer can undertake:

Volunteer Lifeguard

This role is for anyone that holds a current and recognised Beach Lifeguard qualification and can meet the RNLI fitness standards.

Lifeguard Support Volunteer

Help the lifeguards with land-based duties, such as lookout, radio communications and casualty care.

Both of these roles require qualifications. See what's needed or apply.

View other Volunteer opportunities.

Marine safety

Image of a boat safety check being carried out. Credit Rod Kirkpatrick/PICTUREITNOW As well as providing search and rescue services, the RNLI also strives to prevent accidents on the water. Around the UK and Ireland, our marine safety volunteers are crucial in helping to raise awareness and spreading safety messages to boat owners.

Lifeboat Sea Safety Officers

Responsible for leading and helping to coordinate the Sea Safety Advisers and the various events they attend. An ideal volunteer role for someone with marine and boating experience

Sea Safety Advisers

Give advice to the local boating community; including demonstrations and presentations, holding lifejacket clinics and giving Advice Onboard sessions with boat owners. 

This is a friendly, confidential, face-to-face chat with the owner or skipper about safety equipment. Our advisers must be able to communicate effectively and have sufficient knowledge to provide in depth and sound advice.

Training is provided for these roles.

View volunteer opportunities.


RNLI education event at Legoland. Education volunteer watching young girl. Credit Laura AshmanMake a difference in reducing the number of lives lost at sea by becoming a Volunteer Education Presenter. 

Our Education volunteers focus specifically on the next generation of RNLI supporters, presenting at schools and youth groups, igniting young people's interest in our charity and giving advice on how to stay safe on or near the water.

View education volunteer opportunities.


Dover Regatta Fundraiser. credit: RNLI/Martin CollinsAs a charity operating a professional 24-hour search and rescue service, with over 330 lifeboats at 234 lifeboat stations around the coast of the UK and Ireland, the RNLI must raise around £145 million to keep our lifeboats and lifeguards operating every year.

We couldn't do it without our community based volunteer fundraisers, local RNLI branches organise fundraising events, from fire walks to coffee mornings.

Branch Members

Help with fundraising activities, while giving you the opportunity to have fun and make new friends.

Honorary Treasurers

Responsible for looking after the money and accounts at a fundraising branch.

Branch Chairmen

Have overall responsibility for the fundraising programme at a branch.

View fundraising volunteer opportunities.

Occasional volunteering

Would you like to volunteer for the RNLI but concerned about finding the time to do so on a regular basis? Find out more about becoming an RNLI Deck Hand.

RNLI Shops

RNLI SalesWe have more than 120 shops around the UK and Ireland selling a range of lifeboat souvenirs and gifts; all of which are run by volunteers. Many of these shops are located alongside operational lifeboat stations – so you could see the lifeboat when it’s launched!

We need people to keep the shops stocked and looking inviting, serve customers and keep track of the cash. Could you help out at one of our shops? See our current volunteer opportunities.


Shop Manager

Could you manage an RNLI shop, maximising the shops potential as well as taking charge of stock and keeping control of money as well as managing a staff of shop helpers?

Shop Helper

Every shop has a complement of helpers who help make sure customers are served in a friendly and efficient way.

Souvenir Secretary

Every shop has a souvenir secretary who has overall responsibility for stock control, display and sales.

Talking to people

Could you be an ambassador for the RNLI's lifesaving work?

Volunteer presentat giving a talk to pupils. Credit RNLI/Nigel MillardWe recognise the power of people spreading word of the RNLI’s lifesaving work. Do you have the gift of the gab; enjoy working with people and a passion for the charity’s lifesaving work?

Volunteer Presenters

Talk about the work of the RNLI. Speaking at yacht clubs, business groups, Rotary clubs and other organisations where they might come across potential supporters.

Lifeboat Station Visits volunteers

Show people around our stations, explaining what happens there and help drum up vital support.

Volunteer Tour Guides and Welcome Host Guides

Take great pride in showing visitors around our purpose built training facility for volunteer lifeboat crew, at the RNLI College in Poole, Dorset.


The RNLI has 12 Trustees who help set the charity’s strategic direction and give valuable guidance and support. They are all volunteers and bring a wide range of knowledge, experience and expertise to the RNLI.  

See our current volunteer opportunities.


Molly Girling serving a customer in the shop. Credit Tony BuckinghamFuel your passion for history, tradition and caring for artefacts, with almost 200 years of heritage at our museums. Volunteer Curators keep the RNLI's rich history alive, inspiring current and future generations with tales of maritime derring-do from the ages of oar and sail.

The RNLI has a need for volunteers at its Museums:

With roles available such as Museum Education Volunteer, RNLI Heritage Trust Oral History Researcher and general museum volunteers.

View all volunteer opportunities.


Jessica Pearson - Marketeer Data Analyst VolunteerA lot of work goes on in the background at the RNLI – from fundraising campaigns to the fulfilment of our legal obligations as a charity, developing and maintaining our relationship with our supporters to project managing the design, build and testing of our lifeboats.

We want to keep our running costs as low as possible, so we welcome skilled people who want to give something back by volunteering their time, energy and skills to support the RNLI.

Volunteering opportunities range from administration roles to skills-based projects based both at our Headquarters in Poole, Dorset and at our Regional Offices and Bases.

View the current volunteer opportunities available.


Image of volunteer fundraiser at London Lifeboat Day - Credit: Eleanor DriscollWould you like to volunteer for the RNLI but concerned about finding the time to do so on a regular basis? 

Our Deck Hands scheme was created for people who want to volunteer their time on an occasional or ad-hoc basis, rather than making a regular commitment.

You can help us in a variety of ways – at an event or raising money as part of a street collection - just an hour or two will make a difference. So please sign up as a Deck Hand and we’ll be in touch when a volunteering opportunity local to you arises.

You’ll be alerted to our request for help by email or mobile phone (whichever you choose). Our ‘alerts’ may have an immediate need (ie help at an event this coming weekend) or at a stated time in the near future. We promise not to contact you more than once a month.

In return, you’ll have the opportunity to get involved locally in our rewarding, lifesaving work, meet a whole bunch of new people and learn some new skills along the way.

Sign up to be a Deck Hand