Volunteering with the IRR

Volunteering with the IRR


The IRR does not provide formal internships but does, from time to time, take volunteers who work on a series of IRR tasks. Volunteers will not usually find that they have their own distinct piece of research but will be assisting on ongoing projects.

Currently, the IRR’s research is focused on these areas: 1) asylum, migration, and the rise of the far Right, 2) race and class in the context of UK housing, policing and education and 3) anti-racist feminism.
Volunteers may also, depending on their background knowledge, interests and writing skills, be asked to assist in preparing the links to outside news stories or encouraged to write news stories or reviews of reports for IRR News.

Those fluent in European languages might be asked to help with the European Race Programme by translating material and researching key areas.

To understand more about these projects, we suggest potential volunteers spend some time examining the IRR’s website and research materials already published in these fields.

Expectations of volunteers
In normal circumstances, volunteers work out of the IRR’s office at Kings Cross (and only very rarely remotely) and are expected to commit to at least one and usually the same day a week. (Obviously if for ill-health or pressure of studies, they cannot make certain days, they can just let us know in advance.)  In very exceptional cases the IRR might consider giving a volunteer a block work experience placement eg over a long holiday period of at least six weeks.

We would normally expect a volunteer to make a weekly commitment for three months. In special circumstances the period may be extended, and in exceptional cases, where the volunteer has made a more substantial contribution to IRR research projects, this may be acknowledged via Associate status (unpaid).

There is no formal educational requirement for volunteers but we do expect them to have a level of interest in and commitment to the issues that IRR covers and, if possible, some evidence that they have already done some work or been engaged in activities, even at a college- or community-based level, on ‘race’ issues.

Since much of IRR’s work involves writing for publication, it would be an advantage if volunteers could write well, concisely and accurately.

What volunteers will gain
Working at IRR means that you have the benefit of a small, committed team and the opportunity to learn a range of office and research skills and develop your knowledge about matters relating to ‘race relations’ and the anti-racist movement. In addition to the task you are working on, you will be invited to join in staff meetings, any public events IRR hosts and also to read widely, when time allows.

Volunteers are paid their travel costs (this relates only to London and immediately surrounding areas) and for their lunch.

What IRR is and is not
The IRR is an educational charity. This means that it is not doing individual case-work and is not considered a frontline service. On the other hand, it is neither a rarefied, academic institution (cut off from real and everyday issues) nor is it a policy-oriented organisation prioritising the lobbying of government. Rather, it takes its cue from the experience of those at the hard edge of racism and tries to turn these cases into broader issues to be investigated. It tries to draw out from the data it gathers new patterns of structured racism and engage individuals and other civil society groups in combating that racism. For a fuller account of the history of the IRR which explains the specific way we view issues, view the  slide show on IRR’s history.

Application process

  • Examine our website very closely to get a sense of who we are and what we do.
  • Then if you are still interested in volunteering, email us at info[at]irr.org.uk explaining why you would wish to work at the IRR, what skills you could offer to our organisation, what you would hope to gain from the placement and outline any experience you have had working or campaigning in fields allied to our work. Try to let us know exactly what you have in mind in terms of hours being offered and over what period.
  • Attach a CV with as much information as you can.
  • If you wish to, you can always phone us to discuss possibilities before writing. See our contact page
  • We will try to let you know as soon as we can whether we are able to consider your application and those whom we can consider (not everyone because we receive so many applications) will be asked to come in for an informal interview/chat.
  • This interview is for you to get a better idea of who we are, hear about our expectations; and for us to find out more about you and work out with you how to match your wishes with our needs at any one time.


The IRR encourages the use of volunteers not only to decrease the workload on paid staff and increase IRR’s services to the public but also to give a chance to others (especially young people) to familiarise themselves with IRR’s work and gain experience and personal development. In line with IRR’s Equal Opportunities Policy, the organisation tries to give a chance to volunteers from BME communities and also to those who have some knowledge of IRR’s work and share a commitment to IRR’s aims.