Be a shop volunteer

Our seaside shops can’t open without people like you.

Just like our lifeboats, they need a dedicated volunteer crew – people of all ages and abilities – willing to give a little time to help save lives at sea. Read on and watch our videos to discover the difference you could make as an RNLI shop volunteer – and the difference it could make to you.

Shop volunteer crew member smiling and holding teddies

Photo: RNLI

RNLI shops started life as simple cake stalls run by volunteers to raise money for their local lifeboat station.

These stalls started selling official commemorative RNLI products for our 1924 centenary and quickly moved on to selling souvenirs and Christmas cards. Stalls then grew into community shops at our stations and we started to standardise the look and feel of our shops from 1990 onwards.

Today, in addition to our traditional souvenir stalls at events, we have a growing number of more 170 RNLI shops on the coast and inland across the UK and Ireland, all of which are still run by dedicated volunteers.

Many of these shops are located alongside our lifeboat stations, attracting almost 5 million visitors every year.

They stock an excellent range of unique and competitively priced souvenirs and gifts including homeware, clothing, keyrings and toys, all to raise vital funds to save lives at sea. 

Why become a shop volunteer?

  1. Our shop volunteers can make a real difference in ensuring that people arrive as visitors and leave as supporters. 

  2. Your welcoming nature will ensure that our shops are a friendly and attractive place to buy from.

  3. For many people, buying something from an RNLI shop will be the first time they come into contact with our charity. And as a shop volunteer, you could be the person who inspires them to support us now and in the future.

  4. You’re one of a kind – and your individual skills, abilities and background will make our volunteer crew stronger. We’re working to be more inclusive than ever, and welcome applications from everyone.

  5. Have fun, meet new people and join a motivated and enthusiastic team who are making a difference.

  6. Learn new skills and gain experience to enhance your CV.

  7. Gain the satisfaction of giving back.

Hear from our crew

  • Shop volunteer Sam holding mugs
    • Video
    • Video
    Meet RNLI lifesaver Sam
    Sam is a volunteer shop manager at the RNLI Montrose Shop, watch the video to find out why she does it and download her story (PDF 4.65MB).
  • Shop volunteer David holding model boats
    • Video
    • Video
    Meet RNLI lifesaver David
    David is a shop volunteer at the RNLI Troon Shop. Watch the video to find out why he volunteers his time and download his story (PDF 3.90MB).
  • Shop volunteer Bill holding RNLI wellies
    • Video
    • Video
    Meet RNLI lifesaver Bill
    Bill is a volunteer shop manager at the RNLI Barry Island Visitor Centre and Shop. Watch the video and download his story (PDF 2.2MB) to find out more about the pride he gets from volunteering for the RNLI - and the fun he has too!

What shop roles can you do?

Shop volunteer

Offer a friendly and efficient service to all shop customers. There is also the opportunity to take on specific tasks such as stock coordination, visual display, rota coordination and banking.

Shops and visits guide

Inspire visitors by giving lifeboat station tours and providing excellent customer service in the shop.

Shop manager / coordinator

Manage and motivate a team of shop volunteers and maximise the shop’s potential. 


Shop greeter

Welcome visitors, offer assistance and help to manage the flow of customers in and out of the shop.

Can't find what you are looking for? Set up an opportunity alert and will email you when we advertise a vacancy that matches your preferences.