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Work Exchange

Increase your confidence, work on your English, save some money, boost your CV, meet great people and live like a local in idyllic St Ives

Participating in Work Exchange at Cohort is a fantastic way to have fun, increase your confidence, improve life and work skills, meet other people, save some money, boost your CV and experience life in one of the best seaside spots in the UK.

Volunteering with us is a cultural and skills exchange. In exchange for your time we will provide you with shared accommodation in the centre of St Ives, Cornwall.

Our work-for-accommodation positions don’t require you to be a rocket scientist but whichever one you choose we do expect you to be reliable and friendly and to approach your role with us in a hardworking and professional manner.

In this section:

Availability for 2022 | Work Exchange roles | About Cohort | Work Exchange & Cohort | Code of Conduct | Paid employment | About St Ives | FAQs | Apply

Availability for 2022

Cohort is open year round.

We are open for educational trips bookings 12 months of the year, with general bookings accepted from March until October.

Work Exchange roles run from March through to the end of October.

Work Exchange roles

There are two roles available at Cohort. We require a minimum stay of 3 months (however it is always worth contacting us if you can’t quite commit to a full 3 months because we may have gaps in our calendar).

On-call (sleeping) role

Start time: 10pm. 4 nights/week. Sleeping shift.

Are you a night owl? Like the peace and quiet? Want to sleep for free accommodation but don’t mind a bit of responsibility?

As a responsible accommodation provider, we provide our guests with 24/7emergency access to a member of staff.

We require confident, friendly, professional staff members who are over the age of 21 years with a good level of spoken English who are happy to be available to respond to a guest call (via intercom) outside of reception hours..

You sleep in the staff accommodation room just in case a guest has an overnight emergency and calls the intercom. This is a sleeping shift with no expectation for staff to stay awake and includes an evening clean of communal washrooms.

Please download the detailed role description below:

Housekeeping (morning) role

3hrs/day. 5 days a week. 10am-1pm

We need super awesome people to be part of a 3 or 4-person team who will be in charge of room changeovers, room services and cleaning the building.

We’re a busy place with a high turnover of guests so some days there’ll only be 10 changeovers on others it could be 50!

We have a reputation for epic levels of cleanliness and well-presented rooms and we’re pretty strict with the housekeeping as it’s a very important aspect of the service we offer our schools and guests.

Please download the detailed role description below:

About Cohort

We are a relaxed, friendly and stylish 60-bed budget accommodation provider located in the centre of St Ives, with 4 beaches and 40+ restaurants, bars and cafes on our doorstep. 

We are a specialist educational trip accommodation provider and host 50-60 school, college and university trips a year (mostly art, geography, geology, activity and eco-trips). This is the most important part of what we do. We love schools. They are a great bunch to have in the building and teachers are a great to work with. In addition we also offer holiday accommodation to families, walkers, backpackers, surfers, couples and solo travellers.

Cohort is housed in an old Wesleyan chapel. We provide epic dorm-rooms, family rooms and private rooms with hostel-style shared washroom facilities.

Work Exchange and Cohort

We are a responsible business and pride ourselves on treating all of our staff fairly and conscientiously; in return we expect certain qualities from our volunteers.You must be thoughtful, dependable and friendly and above all reliable, hardworking and be able to work as part of a team.

We ask you to work for approx. 16 hrs/week which we feel is fair and we ensure you don’t go over this. Your hours and shifts are fixed and organised in a way so that you can find paid work in St Ives. Part of you being with us is to experience living in St Ives and our roles allow you to make the most of our beautiful town.

‘Cohort’ means ‘a group of people with a shared experience’ – and this is what you would become part of, our team of invaluable people all coming together for an enriching, fun and positive experience in St Ives.

Code of conduct

Our Volunteer Code of Conduct exists to ensure the safety and enjoyment of your time here, as well as promoting a safe and positive environment for everyone staying with us.

In addition to safeguarding the welfare of our younger guests the Code of Conduct also ensures that volunteers work together in harmony.

Please download and read our Volunteer code of conduct.

For those who wish to earn money while volunteering with us there are plenty of paid positions available in the town.

St Ives has an abundance of bars, cafes, restaurants and shops so finding paid employment is pretty straightforward: Just come armed with your CV and a smile. We can assist volunteers to find work through our network of contacts or simply by pointing you in the right direction.

Please be aware however that if you do find paid employment it has to work around your shifts with us. We will not change our shift patterns to suit a job. We are your priority and any job accepted cannot interfere with your role with us. Jobs are easy to find in St Ives; accommodation is not. 

About St Ives

Situated on the North coast of West Cornwall St Ives is just 20 miles from Lands End in the South West region of the UK. St Ives was originally a small fishing village which progressed to an international centre of modern art in the 1950’s and 60’s and on to become the premier seaside resort it is today.

There are over 60 galleries in St Ives including the Tate, Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden, St Ives School of Painting and the Bernard Leach Pottery Studio; it is also home to phenomenal number of restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes.

St Ives has four sandy beaches and they lend themselves brilliantly to a wide variety of water sports from stand-up paddle-boarding to surfing; Cornwall is the UK’s surf mecca with many surf spots in and around St Ives. If that’s not your thing the beaches are a great place for sunbathing, reading and relaxing.

It’s a great place to live with something for everyone here, whether you’re after culture, beaches, hiking, cycling, surfing, yoga, mindfulness or just want to get away from it all.


In exchange for working with us we will provide you with a bed in our (mixed) staff dorm room. In the room we provide all linen (except towels) plus fridges and tea/coffee making facilities.

There is a fully equipped, self-catering kitchen plus a lovely, large shower block close to the staff room. You can also help yourself to (Fairtrade, organic) tea and (fresh) coffee in the main lounge.

We have free, superfast FTTP WiFi, a TV area, communal lounge, table football, private courtyard, storage for bikes, surf boards and wetsuits, laundry facilities (washing machine costs £1/£2 a wash) and a small cafe. You can see a list of our facilities here.

You are responsible for your own food and general living expenses.

There is loads to do – from water sports through to stunning coastal walks, gallery hopping, art classes, sightseeing, yoga and cycling. See more here.

Our work-for-accommodation positions fill up quickly, especially over the summer. As soon as you know you’d like to stay longer come and talk to us and we’ll do our best to extend your stay. It is subject to availability however and won’t always be possible.

You can volunteer with us until the end of our season (November). Sometimes we do open up volunteering positions beyond this time.

We expect a minimum stay of three months.  Anything less and it is not worth us training you up in your position. We do find that the longer you stay with us the greater your cultural experience of St Ives. At 3 months+ you can really immerse yourself in the town and get to know our great little community. Plus, the added benefit of finding a job here is that it opens up your social calendar!

However, if you can only stay for a slightly shorter time its always worth contacting us as we may have gaps in our calendar.

You can only gain paid employment if you have a valid work visa for the UK.

Working is a great way to improve your English and we guarantee by the end of your time with us your spoken English would have greatly improved. However if you don’t quite have the confidence to apply for bar or front of house positions then you can always find work behind the scenes as a kitchen porter in one of the many restaurants. You can then move front of house once you’re more confident with your language skills.

Yes. There are lots of paid opportunities in St Ives. Just come armed with your CV and a smile and you’ll pick up a job in no time. There are approx. 40 bars, restaurants and cafes in St Ives plus plenty of retail shops.

Working is also a great way of immersing yourself in the town, getting to know the locals and experiencing St Ives as a resident. There is a great summer season worker’s community in the town and you’d soon get to know a lot of the other staff in the town pubs, bars and restaurants.

Just remember that if you do find paid employment it has to work around your shifts with us. We will not change our shift patterns to suit a second job. We are your priority and any job accepted cannot interfere with your role with us. Jobs are easy to find in St Ives; accommodation is not. 

Yes. All volunteers sleep in a 6-bed mixed, staff dorm room. Each bed has its own privacy curtain, light and socket. The staff room also has fridges, tea/coffee and toast facilities with a self-catering kitchen located next door. Staff have full access to all the building facilities whilst working with us. 

Please note that the staff dorm room is a mixed-sex dorm room so decide whether you would be comfortable with this before applying.

Yes. However, you can only volunteer with us if you have a valid work visa for the UK.

Volunteers are one of our most valuable assets and we cannot operate Cohort without them. Having a volunteer program at Cohort enables us to meet awesome people from all over the world at the same time as giving people the opportunity to experience life in St Ives for short periods of time.


If you’re interested in volunteering with us then please get in touch.

Email Danny on – or fill in the form below – with your CV, introducing yourself and briefly answering the two questions below:

  • Why would you like to volunteer with us?
  • What do you bring to the team?

Please note that the staff dorm room is a mixed-sex dorm room so decide whether you would be comfortable with this before applying.

If you do not reside in the UK or are a non-UK resident you will need to have a valid work visa to volunteer with us.

Applicants will only be considered who have responded in the way we have asked.

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