Archive for the 'good and bad practice' Category

school sixth forms or colleges – do you have links ?

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

I am hoping some of you can help me.  I have started going into schools to give talks to sixth form students about how to choose good volunteering projects for their gap year or student travels.  There are many calling-all-teachersgood and worthwhile projects to choose from (including those offered by people and places of course!) but there are also many pitfalls to avoid, and most students are unaware that volunteering opportunities that sound great may be very different in reality.  My talk involves getting students to think critically about different types of volunteering experiences, looking for possible pitfalls and working out what questions they should ask to avoid them.  I want to encourage them to volunteer, not put them off, so we also consider what good and worthwhile volunteering experiences might look like.  The aim is to give students questions to ask so that any volunteering they do is of value not only to themselves but also to the projects where they work.

The schools I have gone into so far have all been very appreciative of the talks I have given – some of their feedback comments are given below.  However I am finding that I can only easily get into schools where I have a personal connection . . . and I’ve now run out of schools to go to!  I believe these are important issues that all students should be aware of and I would like to get into more schools to spread the message.  So I am wondering whether any of you would be able to introduce me to schools or colleges where you have connections.  I am willing to travel to schools and colleges in the UK to give the talk for free – it lasts an hour and fits most easily into a school’s general studies or critical thinking programme.  If you are able to help please email me – dianne@travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk.  Thank you for your help. Here’s a flyer for my presentation  schools-presentation-title-slide-people-and-places

‘Dianne’s talk was fascinating.  It offered a very complete picture of the highs (and lows!) of volunteering abroad, with a sting in the tale which was revelatory for the Sixth Form audience.  Dianne was very frank about the pitfalls that are all too easy to fall into – dodgy orphanages and unscrupulous charity packages that rob both volunteers and the communities – and she also outlined how to recognise good volunteering experiences that are beneficial to both sides.  The talk encouraged students to be critical and reflective.  Recommended.’  (Head of Sixth Form)

‘The talk was helpful.  The talk alerted me to things I didn’t know before.  I had no idea that some situations can be fabricated for the ‘benefit’ of volunteers.  It was shocking but incredibly useful.’  (Eliza, year 13 student)

‘The talk was very interesting.  It really helped me see how good gap year volunteering could be for me and for the country I went to IF I prepared and thought about what the country needed and what I could do best.’ (Simon, year 13 student)

‘Although I’m not interested in volunteering at this stage, I now realise how careful you have to be.  It’s too easy to be tricked into thinking that what you’re seeing is the real thing.  A gap year like this is expensive.  I’d want to make sure my money is going into something useful.’  (Bethan, year 13 student)

 

 

please don’t let negative press put you off volunteering

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

people and places was founded to make volunteering a better experience for volunteers and the communities they work with – we decided the best way to campaign for better was through example.

We believe in the power of well matched and well prepared volunteers – we believe the overwhelming majority of people want to do good….but we also see the damage being done in communities where poorly thought out, managed and monitored programmes are being run. We believe volunteers and the communities they seek to serve are often exploited – and they deserve BETTER.

Our plan was always to campaign FOR not AGAINST

but

….and it’s a big but….. (more…)

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…)

thoughts of Aleppo and volunteer travel

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

I just posted the on FaceBook and it made me proud – why? because the first question from the  vast majority of our volunteers is :

“Where can I be of most help”?

help

“my reaction to the news from Aleppo – I want to go there now and help – but you know what I would be a hinderance not a help – I have no medical skills – I have no counselling skills – i am not an engineeer -I am certainly no peacemaker – I do not speak the language(s) – indeed I have no skills that they need at the moment – BUT I know I have skills that could help somewhere

– these are the rules we should apply when we plan our volunteer travel

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

orphanage volunteering – there is a better way

Sunday, December 20th, 2015

In November Sallie paid a flying visit to Bangkok to participate in an important child protection workshop.

Sallie far right( and Paul back row far left) attend child protection workshop

Sallie (far right) and Paul (back row far left) attend child protection workshop

(and our local partner Paul from Calabash Tours in Port Elizabeth was there – so an additional treat!)

Volunteering in orphanages is a hugely popular way for many to “give back” but child protection experts have been telling us for some years that there are many dangers in this well meaning practice. A whole “industry” – that would horrify well-meaning volunteers – has grown from this desire to work with orphans.

To learn more take a look at the links at the end of this post

We at people and places are passionate about child protection and we have listened and learnt a huge amount from child protection and child rights experts – so we have been advocating against volunteering in orphanages for a number of years.

We are therefore very pleased and proud to be involved with an initiative that seeks to highlight these issues and help a greater understanding of the issues involved.

The Better Volunteering Better Care Network is an initiative supported by Oak Foundation and the Human Dignity Foundation, and led by actors in the child protection sector, to better understand the issues associated with international volunteering in residential care centres –  aiming to  discourage international volunteering in residential care centres whilst promoting ethical volunteering alternatives supporting children and families.

 people and places were invited to participate in the network due to our internationally recognised role in campaigning for and managing responsible volunteer travel  – and our contribution to the debate on volunteering in residential care centres. Sallie is a member of the steering group

BVBCN

 

Much has been written on the potential harm caused by orphanage tourism

The Better Volunteering Better Care Network 

Better-Volunteering-Better-Care-research-and-articles

http://www.nextgenerationnepal.org/File/The-Paradox-of-Orphanage-Volunteering.pdf
UNICEF 
Orphanage tourism: Who are foreign volunteers actually helping?
‘Making mistakes with people’s lives’: the ethics of orphanages and voluntourism

Better Child Protection

for an example of volunteer programmes that work to keep children in families – a better alternative to orphanage volunteering in our opinion –  take a look here

If you would like to talk with us about this issue or learn about how you can volunteer to help keep children in families please do email

sallie@travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk


continuity – education development & support in rural South Africa

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Today’s post is the perfect follow-on to our previous post about volunteers Robin and Jane … whose work in A V Bukani School is being built on and continued by Larry and Eileen …

You can read their blog here.

pass the baton

This shows real project continuity … which we tend to refer to as “passing the baton”.

We make sure previous and future volunteers, for the same project, are always put in touch with each other … a standard part of our matching, preparation and briefing process.

 

Great changes don’t happen overnight, but there are definite developments over the years, and this school is just one example of the projects where our volunteers are effectively working as part of a team, even when months and miles away from each other in their volunteer placement and home lives !

Keep up the good work, everyone!

“orphanage volunteering” – NO !!!

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

astonishing … just as we clicked ‘publish’ on our previous post about “orphanage volunteering … we received the following enquiry about a placement:

“Citizenship: United States
Category: Volunteer Abroad
Term: Winter
Age: 34
Desired Program: Orphanages
Duration: 2 weeks max this winter”

heavy sigh

We responded politely and fully, explaining why this is a BAD IDEA … Here are some of the links we sent:

orphanage volunteering – the issues

Cambodia campaign site

Better Volunteering on FaceBook

Better Child Protection on FaceBook

 

but some organisation will no doubt be pleased to take this volunteer’s money and place them somewhere inappropriate … 🙁

volunteering & ‘voluntourism’ – there’s a difference!

Friday, July 17th, 2015

It’s taken a while, but gradually the media is beginning to recognise and write about the POSITIVE results of volunteering, and how to achieve such results. At ‘people and places‘, we’ve always differentiated between volunteering and ‘voluntourism’ … this understanding is beginning to be expressed in the media … gradually !

people and places‘ was featured in an article in The Guardian in May … with the usual sort of headline, unfortunately … but with a far more positive sub-heading: 

matching-puzzle-pieces-sky

If volunteers are truly to help communities overseas, charities and NGOs must take the time to match their skills with the right projects”

No surprise there for us! Putting the right people in the right places is exactly what we do for each individual volunteer placement … matching is the key for volunteers and projects to benefit from their time together.

 

 

(more…)

Nepal – volunteer work permits and visas – and tourism

Friday, July 17th, 2015

As you will appreciate we are desperate to enable our volunteers to return to Nepal as soon as they wish to. However, it is Nepalstill illegal to volunteer in Nepal without a work permit and it is still a lengthy, costly and problematic process – which realistically precludes our volunteers from travelling there. Sallie is working closely with various people in Nepal to try to resolve this problem – but it’s taking time!

But please do not let this stop you visiting Nepal – Nepal needs tourism much more than aid now – and the vast majority of Nepal is safe to visit.

If you are on Facebook and interested in how important tourism is to Nepal – https://www.facebook.com/groups/NepalTourismRecovery/ (created by our partner Raj) – you need to be logged in to see it!

We are optimistic we will resolve the work permit issue soon – so if you are keen to get back – or visit for the first time – please do let us know.