Archive for the 'articles by people and places' Category

to campaign or not to campaign …

Friday, September 30th, 2016

TO CAMPAIGN OR NOT TO CAMPAIGN – WHY I HAVE DECIDED TO GET INVOLVED

Dianne

Dianne

by volunteer programme advisor Dianne Ashman

As you will know, there are two connecting strands to the work

people and places does.  We send volunteers on placements where their skills and experience have been carefully matched to local needs, and we campaign for responsible practice in volunteer tourism – and both these categories have been reflected in awards people and places have won, for Best Volunteer Organisation and

Best for Responsible Tourism Campaigning.

Up until now I have preferred to focus my time and energy on the volunteering side of things, helping our local partners identify needs and helping to prepare volunteers to do their bit to meet these needs.  I have not wanted to get involved in the campaigning side of our work as I am personally uncomfortable with the rather negative and critical connotations of some forms of campaigning (not necessarily ours) and I prefer to focus on the positives of trying to make our volunteer placements as successful as possible for all concerned.  However I have always taken an interest in the issues raised through our campaigning, particularly those involving children and child protection.  I have therefore followed with interest all the publicity around the negative impact of volunteers working in, and foreigners supporting, children in orphanages.  One of the articles published as part of a recent ‘blogging blitz’ on the dangers of orphanage tourism really made me think.  The writer of the article was talking specifically about student volunteers going to orphanages as part of a gap year experience, and he made the point that we are wrong to criticise these young people for taking part in a misguided form of volunteering because we have never taught them that it’s an inappropriate thing to do.  As a teacher that really struck a chord, and fits in exactly with my views – I don’t want to criticise bad practice but I do want to raise awareness about what some of the issues are and how to make good choices when volunteering or supporting people in developing countries.

 In fact, having once thought this, I now feel it would be irresponsible of me to know something about the issues and not to spread the word.

“The challenge is certainly not to stop supporting children in developing countries – the need has not decreased – but to make sure we are doing this in ways that genuinely help and are not designed simply to make us feel good – and that requires real thought.”

(more…)

the cruel scams of ‘orphanage volunteering’

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Kate Stefanko interviewed by BBC1’s “Fake Britain” – about 35 minutes into the programme

The programme was first aired in May 2014 and repeated again this morning … sadly, so much of the content is still relevant … and not only in Cambodia.

The cruel scams of ‘orphanage volunteering’ are exposed – cruel to children & scamming naive & well-meaning volunteers !

at people and places we support organisations and projects which focus on keeping children in families

check out childsafe  and Better Care Network

'orphanage volunteering' - please don't do it !

‘orphanage volunteering’ – please don’t do it !

–  please do your research and don’t allow yourselves to be scammed by fake orphanages !

children belong in families – not in institutions

“gap years for grown ups” – the value of older volunteers

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

“Highly skilled people … are looking for career break activities” writes Matthew Jenkin in today’s Guardian newspaper.

At ‘people and places‘, we know that each volunteer has valuable skills to share – whatever their age. The key is to put the right people in the right places, and that’s something we work hard to achieve.

As Sallie says in The Guardian article: “… older volunteers can bring huge value … they are generally more patient and better prepared for voluntary work, not only professionally but also culturally.”

 

South Africa - school outing with volunteer Shan

South Africa – school outing with volunteer Shan

India - teacher training with volunteer Dianne

India – teacher training with volunteer Dianne

volunteering in projects abroad: how to do it well

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Really useful tips, advice and pointers in this article to guide your research when you’re beginning to think about volunteering in projects abroad … how to find the right project for you …

tips & advice

 

 

“short-term volunteering – how to do it well”

Begin by asking lots of questions … and expect full answers !

Sallie is quoted, as is Michael, our local partner in Cambodia, where our volunteers work in this community project in Siem Reap.

Michael’s question 1: “Does the project where you’ll be working meet a real need, and is it the appropriate response to that need?”
and from Sallie: “Would I be allowed to do this work in my own country?”

people and places – major changes to the way we work with our projects abroad

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

This was first published way back when – sadly – it still holds true!

Here at people and places we are constantly struggling to get enough volunteers for our programmes – there are other sending organisations that manage to attract thousands of volunteers every year – we don’t  and I now know we have got so much wrong – so here’s my proposal – I’m sending it off to our advisory board tonight: time for change

1. We’re going to start talking about our projects – after all, how could they possibly run without us?

2. Forget about getting informed consent from the projects that volunteers will be working with – we will save a huge amount of hassle for ourselves and volunteers if we just send them – and hey – the projects are poor so they’ll be grateful for anyone.

3. From now on, the most important skill any volunteer can possibly have is the ability to give us their credit card details

4. In future, all the expenses of travelling etc., incurred by those of us in the UK, will be allocated to “project development” – how would the projects develop without us – and all marketing will be called volunteer recruitment – and we need volunteers to develop projects so it’s project development – SIMPLE

5. We are discontinuing the bespoke screening and preparation process for volunteers – a one size fits all application form and a pre departure pack has  been developed – we caused too much confusion before – and we are the best ones to judge after all.

6. We aren’t going to allocate any of the fees to pay our local partners on the ground to care for the volunteers – we have 24/7 cover with our UK mobile numbers.

7. In fact we are going to do away with local partners – who needs  ’em? We know all our projects are “community driven” and we got local consent years ago.

8. We are not going to insist that volunteers sign up to and comply with child protection policies  – of course we have the best interests of children at heart – so why complicate things?

9. work permits – don’t worry – you can slip in under the radar on a tourist visa – who will know?

10. talking about work, who cares whether volunteers have the right insurance or not? Insurance is only a problem when there’s a problem.

11. What a time waster all that work we put into ensuring that volunteers are contributing skills the projects needs – so what if the 1000th volunteer is singing “head, shoulders, knees and toes” for the unmpteenth time with the children? They’re all having fun aren’t they? And building programmes – we are going to start those – obviously local people don’t know how to rebuild a bridge or a toilet block over and over again.

12. And most important of all – all children should be loved and hugged – by anyone

13. and finally – perhaps our biggest mistake – none of our volunteers get a T-shirt that says “I saved the world” … well I’ve just put an order for 2000 in – so come on down!

(and I must do a hat tip to Justin Francis at www.responsibletravel.com who wrote a piece many years ago explaining why he was turning his back on responsible travel – sorry Justin can’t find it – if you do Im happy to link to it here!)

“Should I volunteer abroad?” – an article we contributed to

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

people and places placements director, Kate, has been interviewed by World Travel Guide for an article about the plusses and minuses of choosing to volunteer abroad …

Should I volunteer abroad?

Should I volunteer abroad?

 

 

“We believe that a carefully placed, thoroughly screened, well-prepared, skilled volunteer can – and does – have a positive impact,” says Stefanko. 

All volunteers through People and Places have to apply for a position. Then, if accepted, the volunteer is matched with a … project that can benefit from their skill set.”

 

read the full article here

Volunteer publication is a must read and not just because………..

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

……….Sallie contributed.

This publication – Adventures Less Ordinary: How to Travel and Do Good – is  due out in January and promises to be an important read, drawing on the combined expertise of two dozen leading voices advocating for travel that makes a difference. It’s for travellers,volunteers, volunteer sending and receiving organisations and academics. The list of contributors is impressive – people who have a wealth of knowledge about volunteer travel. Register for  a copy on publication here

 

Here is  Sallie’s contribution –

 

While You Act: Make Bullied Communities and Disappointed Volunteers Things of the Past

By Sallie Graysonsallie headshotSMALL

 

While many have celebrated the merging of community service with tourism, others are highly critical and correctly so. Three particular issues need close investigation:

 

(1) Where does the money go?

(2) Do the negative impacts outweigh the positives for local communities?

(3) How much do the local communities know?

 

In search of clarity about these issues and more, potential volunteers and fundraising motivators need to ask questions. But they need to be the right questions!

(more…)

remember – check your passport before booking !

Friday, December 5th, 2014

So – today I shall be spending the afternoon in London – renewing my passport !

My failure to check the expiry date before booking my Christmas holiday will cost me – significant amounts of both time and money !!!

don't forget to check it !

don’t forget to check it !

Just thought I would post this before 2 of my supportive ‘people and places’ colleagues decide to do so 🙂 … they know who they are !

 

BUT what are we doing to make volunteer travel better?

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Here at people and places we love this travel writing site. Sallie has just made this sallie headshotSMALLcontribution

BUT what are we doing to make volunteer travel better? 

You know when you have an idea – and you realise it wasn’t such a great idea….and you still don’t let go?

My idea – to write about the positive developments in volunteer travel (call it voluntourism if you must but in my book they are two very different experiences).

Normally I write about bad practice – I thought it would be good to write a good news piece for a change – little did I realise how hard it would be. The only way I have been able to write this piece is with a number of big fat BUTs.

So here we go – and let me start by saying that I firmly believe that a well prepared, screened, skilled volunteer can make a positive impact.

I have spent nearly 10 years campaigning for better experiences for volunteers and the communities they seek to serve. I am not a natural campaigner but I found myself involved in an industry bedevilled by bad practice (that’s a whole other story), so “if not me then who?”

Those ten years have been a real roller-coaster – I have seen the best of people and, boy, have I seen the worst of people. So time to take stock. I have no idea whether any of my campaigning has been effective, but I do know that the campaign has been effective, somewhat…

So I want to celebrate the steps forward (some impressive, some tiny) that I have seen in the past 10 years.

I hate lists but everyone tells me people read lists and I would quite like you to learn more about the steps forward we have taken so …a list it shall be.

Read the whole article here

Open Letter to Ethical Corporation

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Do you think i will get a reply?images

( and FYI we didnt enter the awards because we have a policy not to enter awards you have to pay for!

 

Thankyou for the invitation .

Before we can finalise our decision to take  up your offer of a seat at the awards dinner for the discounted price of £295 per person I would be grateful if you could answer some questions.

as an organisation promoting ethical business practices could you explain.

1. How you ensure that staff employed for the event are fairly remunerated

2. What steps your event organisers take to minimise waste.

3. What proportion of (what will surely be) an excellent meal is sourced locally

4.If any of the impressive ticket price is donated to the local community

5. Whether you make any of this information publicly available.

 

Thanks very much

sallie

PS this is an open letter and I will be posting it on the web.

 

sallie grayson

programme director

The orignal email

 

Hello Sallie

I hope all is well at your end!

Although you haven’t entered this year’s Ethical Corporation Awards I thought you still would like to know how it develops.

1.         The shortlisted organisations will be announced on July 17th. We are still considering the entries and getting the shortlists ready. We have some great entries this year, definitely some hard choices ahead!

2.         If shmoozing among sustainability leaders sounds appealing to you, then great! You can now reserve your seat for the glamorous Awards dinner. Book before the official sales opening (July 17th) at the discounted price of £295+VAT (commercial/ corporations) and £145+VAT (NGO/ SME/ Academic) per person.

In the meantime, if you’re considering it and need more info (i.e. last year’s attendee list etc), please let me know.

All bookings at this stage are through me only. So if you wish to secure a place, then simply reply to this email.

Regards,
This email has been sent to sallie@travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk. If you wish to stop receiving communications from us visit http://events.ethicalcorp.com/awards/unsub.php

Ethical Corporation provides business intelligence for sustainability to more than 3,000 multinational companies every year. We publish the leading responsible business magazine, website, and research reports. Our conferences are widely recognised as the best in the field of corporate responsibility and sustainability.

Ethical Corporation is part of FC Business Intelligence Ltd. FC Business Intelligence Ltd is a registered company in England and Wales – Registered number 04388971, 7-9 Fashion Street, London, E1 6PX, UK