Archive for the 'articles by people and places' Category

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


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.

This email has been sent to If you wish to stop receiving communications from us visit

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

child protection – we make no apologies for our passionate campaigning

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Sallie recently made a presentation about child protection at a responsible tourism event – watch it here (about 14 minutes in ) – there were lots of tweets and a couple of articles afterwards which used the word passion


to describe her presentation. …. dead right – we are passionate and we are not going to stop campaigning and raising awareness.

Kate was interviewed on the BBC in May about “Orphanage Volunteering – watch it here

Does this mean we are against volunteer opportunities where volunteers engage with children?

NO – it doesn’t

There are well-run and well-managed programmes, doing important and worthwhile work – but there are still too many ill-conceived or down right exploitative programmes out there – and there are still way too many ill-informed travellers.

… there are  well-run child care organisations – but they are so difficult for the ordinary traveller / donor to find. If you have the skills and want to volunteer in a children’s home please read this advice too – please do your research.

We at people and places actively support programmes which seek to support families so that the children can remain within those families – take a look at our programme in Cambodia for example.




Our Chair, Professor Harold Goodwin, recently attended a workshop where many “agencies” working in Child Protection or promoting volunteer travel met to plan a way forward.


Here is his blog – it doesn’t make easy reading – but it is an essential read for anyone thinking about volunteering in an orphanage or children’s home. The problems exist not just in Nepal and Cambodia – to our knowledge they exist in Uganda, Kenya, Indonesia, India, Haiti …….. (more…)

why don’t people research their volunteer trip BEFORE they travel not AFTERWARDS! do th

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Sallie has just had a little rant on the Better Volunteering page we manage on FaceBook keep calm

“There is a lot of discussion about “voluntourism”  volunteer travel in the press and on blogs at the moment – and there is a rash of articles written by returned voluntourists who question the merit of their “3 days teaching” on their return home. Well Im getting cross – why didnt they question the merit – BEFORE they parted with a load of money and set off to change the world in a few hours. Why didn’t they question what possible help they could be without the requisite skills – and then whether even with the skills  they could have positive impact in a matter of hours.Why didn’t they reseach the growing body of advise against short term unskilled voluntourism BEFORE they travelled? There are good organisations out there matching real skills to real needs – they are difficult to find – you have to do your homework – why arent more people doing so. Heres another of those articles that are making me so cross at the moment!

“reflecting on my own experiences and reading the opinions of those more qualified than I about the negative impacts voluntourism can have on communities, I have realized that these programs often do more harm than good and we must be careful about the channels we use when offering our services. All service is not good service and good intentions do not always translate to a positive impact.” ( it appears the writer volunteered for a matter of hours )

no January Sales here !

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

some volunteer organisations are currently offering January Sales with prices reduced by up to … wait for it … 20% !!!

no sale !

no sale !



We’re not offering January Sales … because our volunteers pay COSTS (very different from PRICES!) … real costs … and we don’t have massive overheads to cut !

see ‘why should I pay to volunteer?’ on our faqs page

Volunteering in the news

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

A few articles and programmes we would like to draw to your attention – they’re well worth taking the time to check them out:

1. Undercover World Channel 4 investigates orphanage tourism including volunteering watch it here

2. Martin Stevenson talks eloquently and amusingly about the challenges of finding an ethical volunteer programme – listen here

3. Shanty Tourism – you can do it in comfort now apparently – read a critique here

4. Follow all the latest volunteer  news positive and negative here

5. Excellent articles about orphanage volunteering & alternatives  from UK charity Tourism Concern read them here

6. Progress and Failures in Voluntourism 

So what do you think? We’d love to know, so please share your thoughts and post your comments!


Child protection isn’t just about paedophiles

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

” Children must be protected from many forms of exploitation – the commoditisation of children by many “suppliers” in the volunteer travel industry is also a serious form of abuse. All too often well meaning volunteers are exploited too – particularly those wanting to serve “orphans” They would be horrified to learn that they are probably fuelling such abuse.There is a growing body of evidence that many orphanages in countries such as Uganda Bali and Cambodia are opened specifically to exploit well meaning but ill informed volunteers. There is overwhelming evidence that residential care should not be the first option for children. And where residential care is the option – there are serious emotional dangers for the children when they engage with short term volunteers. So does this mean there are no responsible options for people who want to volunteer to support our most  vulnerable children?

No – there are responsible options – but they will take a lot more finding than all the opportunities advertised to “hug and love orphans”

This is an extract from an article Sallie has just written for Tourism Concern – read the whole article here

Sallie has a rant – prompted by Guardian article

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Most of our volunteers are way to busy to indulge in ( waste time with!) FaceBook so heres a copy of Sallie’s recent rant prompted by a Guardian article

agree with Annie Bennet  dont pay to swim withdolphins – they will let you know if they want to swim with you –

my contribution to 100 things you should not do
1. Volunteer with vulnerable children – unless you have appropriate skills.
2. Visit an orphanage for a couple of hours. EVER! I mean EVER!
3. build a school – unless you also commit to supporting local teaching staff once school is open
4. build an orphanage – there are plenty – support a community initiative supporting economically poor families instead
5. volunteer with any organisation that asks for your credit card details before they ask about your skills
6.go thru a bad volunteer experience and not report it and name and shame – otherwise others will experience same disappointments as you
7.believe that “volunteering” for a couple of hours or days in a culture that  is not your own can achieve anything meaningful
8. believe marketing that tells you you are going to change the world – you may – but the chances are a gazillion-gazillion to one
9. sponsor children – its fraught with dangers – someone somewhere is lying to someone!
10.drop into a project and volunteer – “they should welcome me Im offering my time for free” – how do you know the project is sound – how does the project know you are sound –  without a dialogue?
11 teach without appropriate qualifications – who the feck told you ,you could teach –

there I feel much better now… what are your DO NOT DOs

how ‘people and places – responsible volunteering’ was born

Monday, May 13th, 2013

people and places and market leaders The Gambia Experience are working in partnership to enable people

placement director Kate dancing with local partner from The Gambia Adama

placement director Kate dancing with local partner from The Gambia Adama

who want to volunteer  The Gambia – read more here.

Sallie recently wrote a piece for The Gambia Experience blog explaining how and why people and places was conceived – it has a lot to do with The Gambia!

people and places was conceived in a garden in The Gambia – so The Gambia, and the work we do there, has a special place in our hearts. We couldn’t ask for better partners to work with in our volunteer programme than The Gambia Experience; we know all at the Gambia Experience share our commitment to the warm and welcoming people of The Gambia.

Let me tell you how it all began for people and places… In a previous life I sold clothes for tall women through a chain of retail stores in the UK. I loved it – nothing better than identifying a need and satisfying it, especially when others are patently failing. That was certainly the case for tall women in the ’80s and ’90s in the UK. I learnt a lot: about marketing on a shoe string; bookkeeping and accounting; customer service and quality control; people management; building trust with partners and suppliers (we were so small when we started we certainly weren’t going to make anyone rich!); even a little about fashion and predicting trends; but most of all responsibility. And though I didn’t realise at the time, my time selling frocks was preparing me for the important work we at people and places do now – matching skilled and experienced volunteers to vulnerable communities’ needs. All the business skills I learnt in 25 years of retail management – every one of them – I apply and use every day to help economically poor communities build the future they want for themselves.. (more…)