Archive for the 'volunteering in the news' Category

should I volunteer abroad ?

Thursday, November 12th, 2015
just re-read an article about ‘voluntourism’ (a word I do not like!) in the World Travel Guide … actually rather proud …
“Kate Stefanko, Placement Director at People and Places, … thinks volunteering abroad can be beneficial to all concerned if it is done right. We believe that a carefully placed, thoroughly screened, well-prepared, skilled volunteer can – and does – have a positive impact,” says Stefanko.
in it together
“All volunteers through People and Places have to apply for a position. Then, if accepted, the volunteer is matched with an upcoming project that can benefit from their skill set.
“Well-run efforts can absolutely develop a level of social interaction and understanding that is profound,” Stefanko adds. “The whole process can give a real face to poverty and vulnerability, and shift consciousness toward the understanding of a shared humanity.”

calling all volunteers – could you be one of the lucky winners?

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

Travelocity has re-launched its Travel For Good programme of grants, offering 3 lucky winners the opportunity to travel and volunteer, also promising to donate an amazing $10,000 to a charity of the winners’ choice …

it could be you

Just think what could be achieved for you, your project and your chosen charity …



“We’re sending three inspiring people on their dream voluntourism trips of a lifetime, and donating $10,000 to the charity of their choice.”

And YOU could be one of those lucky winners – give it a go !

We will do all we can to help you win if you volunteer with us!

“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: 


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.




The Guardian – positives and negatives of ‘voluntourism’

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Seems to be a ‘media day’ …  this article in The Guardian today asks, yet again, whether ‘voluntourism’ does more harm than good …

“If volunteers are truly to help communities overseas, charities and NGOs must take the time to match their skills with the right projects,” says Matthew Jenkin, editor of Guardian Careers

mutual learning, sharing, hugging!

mutual learning, sharing, hugging!

Key word: “MATCH” …

Our own approach here at ‘people and places is – and always has been – to begin with an understanding of local need in order to match each volunteer’s skills and experience to local need. This matching process – vital in facilitating mutually rewarding and beneficial placements – takes time and is paramount!

Sallie gives a brief synopsis of our approach:

“There are a number of cultural issues – will the local community be comfortable with strangers in their midst? How will they make sure that their culture is protected and respected? They need to make sure that the recruitment organisation has devised a code of conduct and, if there are children present, a child protection policy. A needs assessment must be done.”

Read about our matching process here

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?”

Who thought this was a good idea?

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Win a childcare experience


All too often we are horrified by the “opportunities “offered to well meaning people – we publish few but this one is so irresponsible we had to share it.

Well, actually, we are sharing Dave Coles  recent blog post (he does wonderful work heping LSE students find responsible volunteering opportunities.)

Bravo Dave – wish we’d written this piece.

“since when did it become acceptable to offer time with children as a prize? Would you be happy if your son, sister, nephew or grandchild was being offered up as a competition win for people from thousands of miles away? Have the families of these children given consent for their youngest to be sold in this way? There is a reverse lottery at play here. The children in Nepal, Mexico or Thailand don’t know if they are getting a “good” volunteer of a “bad” one. The difference being is that they didn’t enter that competition.”

read the whole blog here

and if you would like to see the original offer of the prize

put GVI childcare prize into a search – we ain’t goona promote it! :)

not all volunteers are teachers or health care workers

Saturday, March 7th, 2015

One of our hard-working volunteers, currently in Saint Lucia, is a retired civil engineer … using his experience to support the historic restoration work of the Saint Lucia National Trust

Here’s yesterday’s video and report in the local media:

“Apostles’ Battery Restoration”

The Saint Lucia National Trust has undertaken a major restoration exercise at Apostles battery on Morne Fortune. The project is being executed under the expert supervision of Godfrey Weir who is a civil engineer from People and Places. The Saint Lucia tourist board sees the activity as part of a major development project which will take place at various sites on Morne Fortune.”

Watch the video report here.

Just goes to show that even if you’re not a teacher or a health care worker, there’s likely to be a project with people and places where your skills and experience could be be put to good use!

ethical volunteering in South Africa – community needs are key !

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

“Our programs are not designed to meet the expectations of volunteers to do ‘something new’.

Our programs meet the needspaul of the communities in which we work.”

Paul Miedema, our local partner at Calabash in South Africa, wrote this excellent article about the priorities for ethical volunteering.

The article is in German, but there’s a translate button at the top right of the article,

Well said, Paul :)

“meaningful volunteer experiences”

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Great to see 3 of our volunteer programmes featured in The World Travel Guide

 12 Ethical Experiences for 2015

- and pleased to say that we are in great company!

“Despite the market being swamped with capitalist ventures masquerading as morally sound institutions, there are a number of ethically conscious organisations out there offering both beneficial trips and meaningful volunteer placements.”



Click here to read the full article.

You can read an article Kate was interviewed for