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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

Volunteering with Cohort is a fantastic way to have fun, increase your confidence, improve life skills, meet other people, work and save some money, boost your CV and experience life in one of the best seaside spots in the UK. As far as we’re concerned, there isn’t another UK tourist destination that even compares.

We see volunteering as a cultural and skills exchange. In exchange for 15 hours/week of your valuable time, we will provide you with shared accommodation in a fun environment.

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

About Cohort

Cohort Hostel is fun, friendly and a great place to stay. Cohort means ‘a gang of people having a shared experience’ and that’s exactly how we want you to feel when you come and stay.

We are a mid-sized, 60-bed hostel located in the centre of St Ives – an 8 minute walk from 4 stunning beaches and 40 restaurants, bars and cafes. We attract all types of people from all different backgrounds and cultures; from backpackers, walkers, surfers, international travellers through to families and educational groups.

Volunteer roles

There are two distinct roles available at Cohort.

Sleeping shift role, 10pm – 8am

As a responsible accommodation provider we must be contactable 24/7 to our guests, and need confident, friendly, professional staff who can respond to occasional guest intercom calls during overnight hours.

This is a sleeping shift which includes one hourly clean of bathrooms and kitchen.

Working nights: 7 nights over a two week period (i.e. 3 nights one week and 4 night the next). Cleaning duty must be completed any time between 10pm – 1am.

We require this person to be over the age of 21 years, confident and with a good level of spoken English. They must also be pleasant when woken up – the last thing we (or a guest) needs is a grumpy staff member!

Please download and read this detailed Sleeping Role Shift description,

Pro’s / Con’s of the shift:

  • Pros: You have all day, every day to yourself; you sleep in a private room with a TV when on shift; you are rarely disturbed with the vast majority of shifts passing without contact; the majority of your shift involves sleeping; set shift pattern which means you can easily find paid work to fit in.
  • Cons: Whilst reception staff will be around until 11pm you will mostly be working alone; may be occasionally woken up at an unearthly hour!

Morning housekeeping role, 10am – 1pm

3hrs/day. 5 days a week.

As part of a 3 or 4 person team you will be required to change bed linen, service rooms and clean the hostel.

We have high standards and expectations and so we’re pretty strict with the cleaning as it’s an important aspect of the customer experience.

Please download and read this detailed Morning Role Shift description, key details are highlighted below.

Pro’s / Con’s of the shift:

  • Pros: Fun working with fellow volunteers; have all afternoons and evenings to yourself; can easily find paid work to fit in.
  • Cons: 5 days / week; you will have 2 days off in a week but they are unlikely to be 2 days in a row.

Volunteers & Cohort

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

We ask you to work for approximately 15 hours/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.

We pride ourselves in very high levels of customer service and professionalism and expect all our volunteers to share this commitment. Please download the Volunteer Code of Conduct for more details.

Cohort & Educational groups

We specialise in educational group trips and host 40-50 of these trips throughout the year. It is the fastest growing part of the business and for this reason we take our safeguarding and welfare responsibilities extremely seriously.

We are committed to ensuring the welfare and safety of all students, children and young people who stay with us and expect everyone who volunteers with us to share this commitment. Volunteers will be informed of their safeguarding responsibilities during their induction.

What do we mean by safeguarding? Safeguarding means creating a safe and welcoming environment, promoting the welfare of all young people who stay with us. It is about making sure Cohort is run in such a way that actively prevents harms, harassment, abuse and bullying.

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. 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.

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 and surf 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. Even during a busy summer there are plenty of secret spots to get away from holidaymakers.

Volunteers & Paid employment

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

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. 


Why do we like working with volunteers?

Volunteers are one of our most valuable assets and we cannot operate the hostel 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. Volunteers also bring skills and flexibility that we cannot always find locally.

Can I volunteer with you if I am from outside the UK?

Yes. However, you can only volunteer with us if you have a valid entry and/or work visa for the UK. You can also volunteer with us on a holiday visa but only if we are not your sole reason for coming to the UK.

Do I have to live with other volunteers?

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. The hostel self-catering kitchen is located next to the staff dorm room and staff have full access to all the hostel 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.

Am I required to have a DBS check?

No. We do not DBS check our volunteer staff as you do not, by the very nature of the role, engage in any regulated activity with our visiting educational groups. We do however have a strict safeguarding code of conduct which all volunteers must abide by.

Can I find paid employment whilst volunteering?

Yes, there are plenty of paid opportunities in St Ives especially during the summer months. Just bring your CV and a smile and be prepared to do the rounds. 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.

Can I get paid work if my spoken English isn’t great?

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.

Can I get paid work if I’m not from the UK?

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

What is the shortest time I can volunteer for?

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, get to know our great little community and live like a local. Plus the added benefit of finding a job here also opens up your social calendar!

How long can I stay for?

You can volunteer for us for up to 8 months at a time; the longer you stay with us the greater the benefits.

Once I’ve arrived can I extend my stay with you?

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.

What is there to do in the area?

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

What do you provide for volunteers and what facilities are there on-site?

In exchange for working with us we will provide you with a bed in our 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 bedroom. You can also help yourself to (Fairtrade, organic) tea and (fresh) coffee in the main lounge during reception hours.

At the hostel 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 bar with discounts for staff. You can see a list of all hostel facilities here.

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

Volunteer code of conduct

The Code of Conduct exists to ensure your safety and enjoyment, as well as guarantee that Cohort is able to provide a safe and positive environment for everyone on site.

As already highlighted a significant part of our business are our educational groups. We regularly host primary and secondary schools plus other organised groups. We expect staff to demonstrate professional and exemplary behaviour, acting in accordance with that which is expected for those groups.

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.

Availability for 2021

Due to our opening being put back to 17th May we will prioritise roles for those volunteers who can work the entire season, from May until the end of October. You will be able to arrive at Cohort from 12th May to get your bearings and meet the rest of the team.

Get in touch

If you’re interested in volunteering at Cohort please get in touch; you can email Ashley Jordan on with your CV and availability or fill in the form below.

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Pod dorm beds currently unavailable
Single & Twin Private rooms from £40.75/night
Triple rooms from £79/night
Family rooms from £92/night

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