Archive for the 'volunteering in the news' Category

“Expensive voluntourism trips the ‘least responsible’” – Telegraph

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Our first ever campaign for better and more responsible volunteering was through encouraging all volunteers to ask lots of questions. Gradually, more and more volunteers are doing their research well, and using our “questions to ask .

It’s good to see our questions quoted in The Telegraph yesterday – along with excellent research from Vicky Smith of Leeds Met and comment by Justin Francis of

children are not tourist attractions

children are not tourist attractions



Have a read – it’s an interesting article!

volunteering is really effective when it’s done well – we are cheesed off with the “bad” news!

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Kate writes:

You’ve probably noticed a lot of media coverage about volunteering (or ‘voluntourism’) in recent months … and the vast majority of such coverage takes a decidedly negative or sensationalist slant and concentrates on everything that’s wrong with volunteering …

Well – here at people and places, we’re getting a bit cheesed off  with all the ‘bad news’ coverage and want to reaffirm that when volunteering is done well, it can actually be GOOD NEWS … for volunteers and for local people.

sharing marketing ideas

sharing marketing ideas

(Years ago, when my children were young, there was a marvellous show on children’s television called “Gran’s Good News” where the eponymous elderly newsreader told interesting stories with a positive slant and the feel-good factor was strong … we hope our newsletter achieves much the same!)

We are genuinely proud of our straight-forward and honest approach, and our ethical and responsible way of working … and we know from experience that well-prepared and well-matched volunteers CAN and DO make for effective skills-share.



we are so proud to be part of this….

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Please, please click on the link!

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 

” Volunteers can and do have a positive impact on the communities they serve.”

Monday, July 1st, 2013

“….The question is not whether you should volunteer, the question is;  who is matching the desire with the need?”

This is a question posed by Martin Stevenson who is publishing a book on line  about back packer travel and how it has developed ( not necessarily for the good) over recent times.

Martin has made the chapter he wrote on volunteer travel in Cambodia available free because he believes there are important issues to be addressed particularly by large sending agencies.


“When I was 17 I called Oxfam to ask how I could volunteer on one of their
projects during the summer holidays.
“What can you do?” asked the woman on the phone. “Are you a doctor? An
“Er, no. I’m doing my A levels.”
“Well we need professionals. People with skills.”
“Well, is there something else I can do, like…dig a well or build something?”
“We can give a local person a wage to do that. Call us back when you’ve finished
your degree.” With which she put the phone down. And rightly so. What use was
I to them? I had no skills, no training. I couldn’t teach anyone to ‘fish’, as it were.”

One of the local organisations Martin consulted was ConCert – our partenrs in Cambodia.

Its a thought provoking read – download his chapter on volunteer travel here


catch up on recent media coverage of volunteer travel

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

There’s been a lot written  about volunteer travel in the last few months.

So here’s a digest of some of the articles we found most interesting or annoying or worrying or even pleasing – some include us  - most do not.

This article certainly caused a stir - the tragic rise of gap year voluntourism

from The Guardian Beware voluntourists doing good

Why we no longer accept unqualified teaching volunteers  travel on why they no longer accept unqualified teaching volunteers 

from the BBC slum tourism 

a post from worried volunteer Mary 

what is voluntourism

And the debate about volunteering with children continues

To keep up to date follow the better child protection page on facebook 

a must watch for anyone thinking of volunteering in an orphanage – not just in cambodia 

This video incensed us  and made Sallie write this blog

This  BBC interview with a volunteer was disappointing in that it sensationalised but didn’t offer advice  and here’s our response 

and finally a video interview with Sallie

Phew! Said there had been a lot going on!

The damage done when volunteers don’t name and shame

Friday, March 1st, 2013

I listened to a short radio article yesterday on the BBC 4 consumer programme ‘You and Yours  - it’s about 40 minutes in.

It was very disappointing. A young medical student called Savannah recounted a disturbing story about “a large sending organisation” that had placed her in poor accommodation and at a challenging project with no support – I think the interview was about 4 minutes. It did nothing but sensationalise – it was prurient in its sensationalisation of what sounded like a horrid and worrying experience for the volunteer (and by inference her co-volunteers).

This was not the fault of the volunteer or the journalist, Phillipa Jacks, who was also being “interviewed”–  the time she had was less than a minute. This was radio journalism at it worst – collect a horror story – report it and do nothing –  nothing to address the issue – Savannah also mentioned a good experience she had had with a local charity– neither organisation was named  - what was achieved? – what can the consumer learn from this? – I’d bet my house on the fact that “big operator” has much more marketing buck than the local charity and knows all the right marketing language to use – so who is the potential volunteer going to find first when left to their own research??

This post however is not about the shortcoming of ‘You and Yours’.

It’s a piece about what’s happening because volunteers are not naming organisations that mislead and mis-sell – and how constructive criticism can be really advantageous to volunteers in helping them to avoid the kind of situation Savannah found herself in. (more…)

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“We know they are the right company” – we’ve been recommended by one of the best!

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Many of you will have heard of Tribes Travel – they are award winners.  A small, personalised tour operator run by husband and wife team Amanda and Guy, Tribes specialise in personal service – for the traveller and for the communities they visit.

… we believe that the very best tailor made holidays are the ones which not only make you feel special and help you engage with the places you visit, but which, at no extra cost to you, also allow the destinations (people, places and wildlife) to benefit from your visit.”

Which is why, year after year, Tribes wins awards for sustainable travel.

Well now people and places  wants to say a big “thank you” to Tribes – look at what they have gone and done!

Support like this from another award-winning responsible tour operator warms our hearts -

….if you are researching a holiday – and not planning to volunteer with us !!! – you couldn’t do better than talking to these guys -

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Better Volunteering and Better Child Protection

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

One of the main  reasons Kate, Harold and I started people and places was to campaign for better volunteering experiences – better for local communities and for volunteers. Back in 2007 we started a questions you should ask campaign – and we’re very  pleased to see that many volunteers, as well as members of the press and other volunteer organisations, are now asking these questions too … BUT – there’s still a long way to go!

There are – still far too many examples of volunteers and local people being exploited – still too many questionable child care projects – if anything there are more! – still too many projects where volunteers are poorly screened and prepared – still too many buildings being built by volunteers – buildings that stand empty because there are no funds or skills to staff them – still too many volunteers who are replacing local employment – still too few organisations exercising transparency in where volunteer monies go.

Many of you will know that Harold Goodwin, our co founder and Non Executive Chair of our Advisory Committee,  is Professor of Responsible Tourism Management. We are working with him on two awareness campaigns Better Volunteering and Better Child Protection . Working with Children – our mistake - read it here

We would really welcome your opinions, insights ,questions and stories.

You can read more about the campaigns and other campaigns Harold is involved with here

Need to fund raise for your volunteer trip? – try this!

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

We have been watching the development of a new volunteer travel resource with great interest. Volunteer Forever  isnt just another site giving you lists of volunteer opportunities and some advice.

The really excity innovation is that you will be able to fundraise on the site to support your volunteer work.

We are listed of course here – so give it a try! and please think about doing a review to let future volunteers know the realities of volunteering with us.