Residential on Reserve (More than 4 weeks) (LIFE Raft Fieldworker Volunteer (Rathlin))

Opportunity image

Please note new dates in advert, updated on 22/05/2024

Please note you will be sharing bedrooms with other people of the same gender. All applicants must be happy to share rooms and you must tick the 'willing to share' for your application to be processed.

Why we're looking for volunteers

This is a unique chance to be part of one of the most ambitious projects to save internationally important and threatened seabirds.

Rathlin Island is home to the largest seabird breeding colony in Northern Ireland, including Puffins, Razorbills, and the largest Guillemot colony across the whole of the UK and Ireland. Their future is threatened by invasive non-native species, namely rats and ferrets. Last year only one in three Puffin chicks survived long enough to leave the nest.

The LIFE Raft project aims to protect these seabirds by eradicating the rats and ferrets, and this volunteering opportunity is critical to making this project a success.

Come September we will start to place over 6,000 bait stations across the island. When these go live, the volunteers will be part of a wider team that works to check and rebait each station every three days.

Why you should apply

As an RSPB volunteer you’ll be part of something big – a team of amazing and dedicated people who donate their time, energy, talent and skills to help birds and other wildlife.

Rathlin is a beautiful island with a close-knit community of about 160 people. There is a guest house, a cooperatively run store, shops with local products, a pub and café, and regular yoga and film nights.

There is also lots for the wildlife enthusiast. While the seabirds are a strong draw in the spring and the summer there are oystercatchers, eider ducks and seals all year round, and dolphins are regularly seen from the ferries and harbours.

Rathlin’s dark skies also allow for stunning views of the stars. And with 2024 set to be a particularly good year for the northern lights, it’s a great time to be spending time on island.

Accommodation is provided in a hostel just half a mile from the harbour. There are five rooms in a variety of sizes. You will be sharing a room with members of the same gender, or if you apply as a couple you can share one of the smaller rooms.


Minimum age 18. Enthusiasm and ability to work both on your own initiative and as part of a team are necessities – but perhaps most importantly, you must be good with people and physically fit and active.

Most days volunteers will be hiking over rough and varied terrain, through all weathers in the autumn and winter. It is physically tough but incredibly rewarding.

There are about 160 people who live on Rathlin Island and volunteers will get to know residents well over the course of three-six months. You will be informal ambassadors for the project, even while off-duty, and it is expected that you will be respectful and considerate of the community at all times.


There is no charge to take part in the scheme and no driving license is required.

All accommodation and food will be provided, as well as initial travel to Rathlin from anywhere in the UK. Please note that volunteers will be sharing rooms.

A typical working week will be Monday-Friday, with the occasional extra day in case of emergencies.

Dates for volunteering

The opportunity runs from 2 September until end of March, but most of the volunteer slots through 2024 have now been filled.

If you are interested in volunteering from January through to the end of March 2025, please get in touch!