Roles – 

Kitchen VolunteersSacristan Volunteer,  Housekeeping Volunteer, Programme Volunteer,  Maintenance Volunteer,  Admin Volunteer, Shop Assistant, General Assistant

Information – Volunteering on Iona - an introduction.

How to Apply

2021 saw the re-opening of the refurbished Iona Abbey premises to guests, following an extensive programme of work to upgrade the facilities. The re-opening coincided with Covid, which set many challenges and restricted the number of guests we could welcome at any one time, but we made the most of the upgraded accommodation and facilities, and much improved accessibility. Sadly, Covid travel restrictions made it impossible to welcome volunteers from other countries.

It is still unknown whether we will be able to run the 2022 season as per pre-Covid times or whether some restrictions will still be in place, but we do hope that we will be able to welcome volunteers from other shores next year.

The 2022 team will be made up of a few people who were here during 2021 and a brand new contingent of residents and volunteers. All will work together to share their common life with guests and visitors, and provide the building of community that the Iona Community is renowned for. The 2022 team – which we hope will include volunteers from continental Europe and beyond – will have a unique opportunity to draw on the fine traditions of the past and at the same time explore how the upgraded facilities can further enhance the Community’s ministry of renewal of worship and inclusive hospitality.

You will find below a brief description of the key role profiles on offer. Please note, however, that all volunteers are expected to be team players with a flexible approach to work. In particular, all volunteers need to be aware of, and accept that, they will be requested at times to work in departments other than the one they have been allocated to.

Other key requirements for all volunteers are that:

• They share the Iona Community’s commitment to radical hospitality and the common life, and support the Iona Community’s aims and purposes (more information about these aims and purposes can be found in Volunteering on Iona - an introduction. and in the Iona Community website.

• They are prepared to share in the ministry of hospitality and the common life of work and worship in the Abbey Centre. This means not only carrying out particular tasks within the department they will have been allocated to, but also eating and worshipping in community, as well as engaging with guests and visitors.

• Good physical strength and stamina. Many of the tasks that our volunteers help with are physically demanding. Duties often require standing on one’s feet for long periods of time and/or carrying heavy loads.

• Strong resilience – living on a small island off an island with a constant flow of changing guests and visitors can be very demanding mentally and spiritually.


Kitchen Volunteers

The Abbey Kitchen Team consists of five people: the Abbey cook, the Deputy Cook and three assistants. Working in shifts, they prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner for guests and staff.

The main tasks typically include chopping and preparing food under the supervision of the Abbey Cook or the Deputy Cook, washing up and cleaning, as well as receiving and putting away food deliveries.

Kitchen assistants are not expected to be professionally trained cooks, as training will be provided. However, experience of cooking and interest in food are highly desirable.

Good physical health is important as the duties involve carrying heavy delivery boxes, washing large pots, and standing for long periods of time.

Sacristan Volunteer

This role is an important part of ensuring the Abbey Church and other worship spaces are prepared and welcoming to everyone who participates in our worship.

The Sacristan Assistant will support the Abbey Sacristan in preparing the Abbey Church for worship in different ways according to the particular service and in keeping the worship and prayer areas clean and in good order, together with assisting in welcoming and supporting those leading worship and those taking part of worship. The work may include the online booking of visitors.

Main tasks will typically include helping to set up for services and clearing up afterwards, cleaning the church in line with Covid guidance, re-filling the candles with oil, keeping the votive candles stocked up in the Abbey Church and St Oran’s Chapel, emptying donation boxes, assisting with counting the money from these donation boxes and from church collections, and engaging with worshippers visiting the Abbey.

Training will be provided, but experience of working in a church and an interest in creative forms of worship would be highly desirable.

Housekeeping Volunteer

The Housekeeping team is responsible for all housekeeping in the Abbey Centre (e.g. bedrooms, showers and toilets, refectory and common areas) as well as the public toilets and the offices in the Welcome Centre. The team is also responsible for all tasks around the servery before, during and after meals – from laying tables in the refectory to washing up.

Main tasks will typically include regular cleaning of showers, toilets and common areas; changing beds and cleaning bedrooms on change-over days; laundry; laying tables and washing up. There is also a strict regime of regular sanitising in place.

Training will be provided, but experience of housework is highly desirable.

Good physical health is essential as well as the ability to carry loads of up to 15 kilos.

Programme Volunteer

The role supports the planning and delivery of creative programme events and activities for guests and visitors of all ages. This includes events on justice and peace and on ways in which the values and vision of the Iona Community are lived out. It is a varied, active and demanding role, working closely with the Programme Manager.

This role is a wonderful opportunity to contribute to some of the highly imaginative and inspiring ways in which guests and staff learn together and experience being part of community life.

Tasks will include setting up a wide range of programme sessions and activities, indoor and outdoor, for guests of all ages and backgrounds, and clearing away afterwards; gathering material for new activities; liaising with guests, visitors and staff; assisting with pilgrimage activities; helping produce written and online material; assisting with organising feedback on the programme; and looking after the programme resources and written records.

Experience in running community or church activities is a bonus and an adaptable, outward-focused approach, along with attention to detail, is desirable.

Maintenance Volunteer

The maintenance team looks after the Iona Community’s properties and gardens on Iona, and is also responsible for driving the Community van in support of day-to-day operations (e.g. transporting guests’ luggage). It also carries out most Health & Safety checks such as fire alarm, and assists other departments with heavy duty works (e.g. putting bins out or receiving deliveries)

Main tasks will typically be minor repairs of various kinds, both indoors and outdoors, painting and decorating, grass cutting and gardening, driving the van, and compliance checks.

A valid driving license is essential to work in Maintenance, as is good physical health and the ability to lift up to 15 kilos. Experience of DIY or even of the building trade would be highly desirable.

Musician Volunteer

This is an excellent role for a piano player with a passion for music and its role within worship. Helping to provide a range of music suitable for services of worship, common life activities and residential programmes at the Abbey Centre, you will be based in the Abbey Church and support the Abbey Musician.

Tasks will include providing music on the Abbey Musician’s days off, setting up spaces and clearing away, organising instruments and recordings, helping to run sessions with Abbey guests and staff, maintaining equipment and musical resources, supporting and promoting Iona Community worship material, including that of the Wild Goose Resource Group, assisting with the recording of copyright and performance rights, and helping to lead “Big Sings”.

Flexibility, punctuality, reliability and attention to detail are important for this role, along with a creative and inclusive approach to music and worship. Working from the music loft in the Abbey Church, nimbleness and an ability to share small spaces will be an asset. Previous experience of church or community music-making is highly desirable, and the ability to sing and/or to play one or two musical instruments would be welcome.

Admin Volunteer

This role will be primarily based in the Welcome Centre, which is inside the Iona Community’s shop.

Tasks will vary from day to day, depending on what is going on at any one time, but will typically involve help in answering the phone, admin back-up such as photocopying or folding documents, dealing with general enquiry emails, sorting the post, and last but not least, answering the many queries from visitors (there is no Tourist Information on the island, so visitors tend to ask their questions in the island’s shops…).

Please note that, physically, this is a role that is less demanding than most of the others as it does not require to be on one’s feet for long or to carry heavy loads.

Training will be provided, but experience of working with computers and excellent spoken and written English is essential. In addition, prior experience of working as administrative support and well-honed skills at interacting with the public would be a great advantage.

Shop Assistant

This role is based in the busy Iona Community’s shop on Iona, which welcomes tens of thousands of visitors every year. It opens seven days a week in season, and has a turnover of over £250,000. It is run by a team of 5 to 6 people.

The shop sells a wide range of products – books, CDs, Celtic jewellery, clothes, gifts, cards and much more. A key priority is to stock items supplied by fair trade organisations and local businesses. The shop also has a hot drinks vending machine.

Helping in the shop typically involves receiving and unpacking deliveries, stocking shelves, serving customers and operating the till and credit card machine, together with general cleaning duties. It is a physically demanding role, which requires being able to stand for long periods as well as move heavy boxes.

Training will be provided, but strong computer literacy, good people’s skills and good spoken English are essential, together with experience of handling money. Previous experience in the retail sector would also be a great advantage.

General Assistant

This is a flexible role involving working in any of the above departments as needs arise. It has the advantage of being more varied than other roles, but requires a good all-rounder willing to have a go at everything, good at following instructions and quick at learning and adapting.

Again, because this role will involve working in physically demanding environments such as kitchen, housekeeping, shop or maintenance, good physical health is an essential requirement.



Please complete the Iona Volunteer Application Form - 2022 and submit it by email to [email protected]. 

For questions or queries regarding volunteering call: +44(0)1681 700404,  or email [email protected]

We very much hope that it will be possible to welcome overseas volunteers again in 2022. Please note that, anyone without the right to live and work in the UK (including, since 1 January 2021, citizens from the EU) must apply on their own behalf for a visa, including paying the UK government processing fee. We are unfortunately not in a position to help you with the cost of the fees but can provide support and information to support your application. 

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