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Volunteering as a Coastguard

Volunteers help to make up the Coastguard Rescue Service - which is part of HM Coastguard. They help to carry out search and rescue missions along the British shoreline.

Information in this section explains how to volunteer as a coastguard worker in the United Kingdom and what to expect from this type of work.

Role of the Coastguard Rescue Service UK

If you volunteer as a coastguard rescue officer your tasks can include:

  • Gathering information for the coastguard operations centre.
  • Helping emergency services during emergencies (e.g. flooding).
  • Helping to search for missing people and rescuing those trapped on the coast (e.g. on cliffs, stuck in mud, in water).
  • Reporting and dealing with pollution and other hazards.
  • Visiting clubs and schools to talk about staying safe at sea and the coast.

Note: Your duties may also include helping the Receiver of Wreck (e.g. dealing with dead whales and dolphins on the shoreline or other types of wreckage).

As a volunteer coastguard rescue officer, there are several things to consider and situations to expect, such as:

  • Being called out to join in a mission at any time of the day or the night time.
  • Having to work in hazardous situations and sometimes for long hours.
  • Having to carry out physically demanding and challenging tasks (e.g. carrying heavy rescue equipment).

Despite volunteering not being a paid job, you should have entitlement to volunteers’ rights and expenses. As a rule, you would be able to claim back a small amount for certain types of financial outlays and for your time.

Volunteering and Working Full Time

You can volunteer as a coastguard rescue officer and hold a full time job at the same time. Your employer would get a letter from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency asking whether they grant you permission to respond to emergencies during your normal work hours.

Note: You would still be able to take you normal holiday entitlements from work – but remember to notify your coastguard manager if you take time off.

Specialist Training and Equipment

HM Coastguard would conduct the initial training, followed by other training opportunities on a regular basis to keep your skills current. As a rule, it will include specialist training in:

  • First Aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), map work, search techniques, and communication procedures.
  • Other special skills needed for the local area (e.g. mud and water rescues, rope rescue techniques)

Note: They often conduct this type of training during the evenings or over several weekends. They would also provide you with all the necessary equipment and protective clothing.

Who Can Apply to Volunteer as a Coastguard

You would need to meet these three standard requirements before applying to become a coastguard volunteer in the United Kingdom:

  1. You must be aged eighteen (18) or over.
  2. You need to be in possession of a full driving licence.
  3. You should live (or work) within thirty (30) minutes travel time of the rescue station.

Note: Some coastguard stations may have further eligibility requirements, such as needing to live closer to the station.

How to Apply be a Coastguard Volunteer

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency produce guidance notes on working for MCA. Checking the vacancies page and contacting the local sector manager is a good place to start.

They will send you an application form after you make contact with them about their volunteer placements. They will then invite you to attend an interview if your application is a successful one.

Fitness and Health Requirements

Coastguard volunteers need to be reasonably fit and in general good health. You would need to take and pass a health and fitness test. There would also be some eyesight and hearing requirements to meet.

What if there are No Local Vacancies?

You can send an email to the coastguard manager if you cannot find any vacancies in your vicinity. Remember to include your contact details and the area where you live.

Email: [email protected]

The local coastguard manager would respond to your enquiry and inform you about any services specific to your area. It also means they can contact you if any vacancies become available.

Volunteer for the Coastguard Rescue Service in United Kingdom