Archive for the 'media' Category

people and places interviewed in the Daily Telegraph – about responsible volunteering

Thursday, August 14th, 2014


Sallie was interviewd by the daily telegraph recently for this piece sallie headshotSMALL


“Volunteering placements abroad are a popular choice for gap years, but projects need to be chosen wisely or there is a danger participants may end up doing more harm than good.

Kristina is a friendly 19-year-old from the UK, who recently went on a volunteer placement in Cambodia.

“We were told it would involve a mixture of teaching and building water pumps for rural families,” she says. “However, during the placement, only two out of the 14 of us taught English. The rest of us literally dug a road. We moved piles of dirt for six weeks – and right at the end, a digger turned up and finished it in about half an hour, which was fairly infuriating.” The voluntary placement cost £3,500.

“Voluntourism” is big business these days, with well-meaning travellers like Kristina paying thousands of pounds to spend a short time working towards a cause in another country. But how can you be sure your money (and you) will be doing any good? And, more importantly, you won’t be doing any harm?

read the whole article here 

“orphanages … part of the well-trodden tourist trail” says BBC’s Fake Britain

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

well-meaning holiday-makers [and volunteers] are being conned and are fuelling a dark industry of fake orphanages and orphans”

watch the report, from about 35 minutes into the programme click here to watch 

people and places‘ Kate Stefanko speaks out during the Fake Britain expose about volunteers naively contributing to the abuse of it here


“a need for more orphans … so where are they coming from?”


“visiting orphanages and making a donation has become part of the well-trodden tourist trail … ”


“well-meaning holiday-makers are being conned and are fuelling a dark industry of fake orphanages and orphans”


TV reports on volunteer input for Saint Lucia National Trust

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

WOW – just goes to show what well-prepared and well-matched volunteers can achieve in just a few weeks !

Towards the end of his time in Saint Lucia, volunteer Kevin – who has experience in business and consultancy- talks about the results of his work with the Saint Lucia National Trust – identifying historic buildings at risk, and helping to develop plans for local government departments and NGOs to formulate ways in which the nation’s historic cultural heritage can be preserved.

Kevin’s business and consultancy experience have been well-used !

Watch theTV reports here … and … here  … and read more about the project here.

the old presbytery in Anse-le-Raye

the old presbytery in Anse-le-Raye

Your project needs YOU !

Saturday, December 7th, 2013



The Lord Kitchener poster is in my mind when I paraphrase slightly and say: “YOUR PROJECT NEEDS YOU”  … to tell your story and help us find more volunteers to continue your work.

I know that many of you already do this through giving talks and presentations to school groups, church groups, clubs and associations of work colleagues … for which we also thank you.

But here’s a thought:

How about approaching the local media – newspaper, magazine, TV station … They are always looking for interesting local news stories – and what could be better than your own story? Why did you decide to volunteer overseas with people and places? Where did you go? What did you do? How did you share your own skills and experience with local people and projects? What were the challenges and what were the rewards?

You no doubt have loads of photos of your volunteer experience – and we know how the media loves a good photo!

If you would like our help with additional information and photos of your project, please let us know! We’ll be pleased to help you to help your project.

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!


We won!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, November 8th, 2013

5. Best for Responsible Tourism Campaigning – sponsored by the _SJH6517_c0dd8Caribbean Tourism Association


Winner: people and places, UK –

 read the full story here 

Judges’ reasons for winning: “Highly commended in 2007 in the Best Volunteering category, they won this same category in 2009. The judges were impressed by their campaign for responsible volunteering; they have also been active in campaigning for child protection whilst running their small business. Their campaign has been funded entirely through their business. Making extensive use of the social media the two directors have given their time freely to fight for change. Over the last few years, practice in volunteering has improved, although there is still much to be done – people and places have been at the heart of that movement to raise awareness and demand action, working with many partners in the UK and abroad”.

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

“Putting responsibility back into responsible volunteering” by Kathryn Burrington

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

“I was really delighted when I heard that The Gambia Experience were teaming up with the award-winning

Dianne with a  school principal

Dianne with a school principal

volunteer organisation, people and places. The day before my last trip to The Gambia I met up with Sallie, Katie and Diane from people and places and I was really impressed, not just with what they do, but also with the way they do it.

Why volunteer with people and places?

As a volunteer organisation they take their responsibilities to both the local community and the volunteer very seriously, ensuring that both benefit from the experience. The volunteers always work alongside the community and never instead of. The volunteering is all about exchanging skills. For example, volunteer teachers always work alongside a local teacher and if the local teacher doesn’t turn up for a few days they are under strict instructions not to work until they return. This ensures that the school hasn’t dismissed the teacher thinking that the volunteer will do the work. responsible volunteering Its all too easy for a volunteer to do what they think a community needs rather than what the community actually needs. The host community is too polite to say ‘no’ and will say ‘yes’ to any suggestion, irrespective of whether they actually think it will be useful. Not so with people and places who always consult fully with the community on possible projects, finding out what the community thinks it actually needs help with. In each country people and places work in they have a local partner, chosen in part because they have an understanding of the volunteer’s cultural background as well as that of the host community. This ensures that they will understand what preconceptions and concerns the volunteer may have. In The Gambia the local partner is a well-known sustainable tourism expert Adama Bah. Both he, and his assistant Lamin, have studied in England so are familiar with our culture. (more…)

volunteering in orphanages – what do I need to know?

Monday, July 29th, 2013

This was a question I was asked right at the end of last year by a friend and colleague in responsible travel

Given the recent announcement by responsible that they are to suspend offering orphanage volunteer trips   I thought Id publish my reply -

what do you think what have I missed?


These are my immediate questions…and the fisrt questions I ask when doing due diligence on our childcare projects

1. Is the orphanage properly registered and operating under local law

2. How are the chidren “selected” in the orphanage/home? They need to come thru credible government or NGO agancies.

3.What working relationship do the homes have with outside experts and ngos – ie child abuse counselling – occupational therapy etc – if these are available.

3.What efforts are made to get the children back to thier own families if atall possible

4. What happens to the children once they are no longer children???

4.I note that the organization you mention offers two different “volunteer “opportunities – short missions and longer term placements.It is not clear what is done during either of these placements. I would be very concerned if the volunteers on the short missions have  close engagement with the children? The copy certainly suggests that there is a guarentee that the volunteers will be able to “hold ” the children.

Is there skills transfer in the longer term placements – do the volunteers work with or instead of local people? What is the long term goal of the volunteer programme

5. What are the screening procedures for volunteers and have risk assessments been done.I can see no requirement for criminal record checks for example

6 What are the rules about staff/volunteer ratios – how often are there groups of volunteers  at the homes? Children should not be paraded .

6. Do they have child protection policies that the volunteers are briefed on and made to commit to in advance

7. What systems are in place to prepare -brief and  support in situ and debrief the  volunteers and the local staff.

I do not know this organisation but as I say any organisation that encourages short term engagement with vulnerable children worries me!

To read people and places child protection policy take a look here 

volunteer in an orphange? not with

Friday, July 26th, 2013

Many of you will know that we at people and places have some concerns for some time about the integrity of  many volunteer programmes in orphanages – we have been campaigning for some time through the better child protection and better volunteering pages on FaceBook as well as here on this blog – we tweet about it a lot too!.

So we are thrilled to share the news with you that has exercised real leadership and removed ALL volunteer trips to orphanages from its site until they have worked with industry leaders to develop best practice guidelines and criteria for the child-focused volunteer trips they offer.We look forward to working with them on those criteria.


here is the statement on their blog

please do promote it.

” have been finding the issue of voluntourism trips to orphanages around the world of increasing concern.

After a lot of thought, research and consultation we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily remove all volunteering trips to orphanages from This is a total of ten trips from 6 operators. We will not be taking on any new ones for the time being.

The removal of trips is a temporary measure, whilst, over the coming weeks we work with industry leaders to develop best practice guidelines and criteria for the child-focussed volunteer trips we offer via

We want to ensure we only market volunteer trips that we have 100% trust in and that, as a community of responsible operators, we are leading the way and raising standards around best practice in this industry. We hope that by being independently created, the new criteria will help sustain the exemplary operators while removing those that may potentially tarnish the sector. (more…)