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a date for your diary – volunteer meeting Saturday 18th May

Saturday 18th May 2019

Our spring social meeting will be in the West Midlands, Birmingham area.

We’ll confirm full details of time and location early next year, but meanwhile, please save the date !

Claire’s video interview (below) emphasises how valuable our social meetings can be for potential volunteers – meeting and talking with each other as well as previous volunteers and the ‘people and places’ team – all in a relaxed and friendly environment.

Let us know if you hope to / plan to join us on Saturday 18th May – just email kate@travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk 

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local partners talk about our volunteers

We love hearing from local partners about our volunteers and their work … below are some recent updates from Treak in Cambodia and Hazyview in South Africa.

First of all, here’s a brief synopsis of the varied skills and experience they brought to their projects and placements: Chris, Paul & Lynne worked in Treak and Katherine in Hazyview.

Chris has worked for years in engineering and other practical projects, in the UK and overseas, as well as having coaching & training qualifications for his voluntary work with young people.

Husband and wife, Paul and Lynne, worked in the same community as Chris, though their own placements focused on their teaching skills in their own specialist subjects.

Katherine has a background in business and project management as well as being a trained counsellor.

You can read more about their various projects in the website
education & community support in Treak, Cambodia
business development support for young adults, Hazyview, South Africa

Chris with teachers Chhlat & Chhuer

Find out what our local partners say … Read the rest of this entry »

ready for school – local volunteers and our volunteers make a difference

It’s the end of the school year in southern Africa.  At the Emmanuel Advice Care Centre in Port Elizabeth and at the Neighbourhood Care Points in Swaziland many children are finishing their time at pre-school and are excitedly looking forward to starting school in January.  One of the high points of their last few weeks at pre-school has been their graduation ceremony.

We have just heard from our partners in Swaziland that 113 children have graduated and will be entering primary education in the next school year – what an achievement!

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We are proud of the support some of our volunteers have given to the pre-school teachers at both of these projects, helping with teacher training and the development of games and activities to help the children learn. Both projects are run by local volunteers and help families in very disadvantaged areas, where there is little spare money for educational resources.  However the children are looked after by dedicated and caring members of staff, and the pre-school education they have received should give them a flying start at school.  We wish them all good luck!

Find out more about volunteering at these projects here and here.

Gede Special School, Kenya – such a lovely place to volunteer!

Yvonne has recently returned from her second volunteering placement at Gede.  Here are some of the things she told us.

Yvonne with Patience and class 2HI

On my first morning Ken (our local partner) took me to the school to meet the head and look around the new buildings – the school has expanded a lot since I was last there in 2014.  Most of the staff were still there from my previous visit – it was lovely to see them again and they seemed pleased to see me too.  As this is a special school some of the classes are for children with multiple physical handicaps and other classes are for the hearing impaired – I was assigned to Hearing Impaired Class 2, with Patience as the teacher – I remembered her well.  Previously I had worked with teachers teaching older children but they were preparing for and taking mock exams – these are taken very seriously.  The results of these exams dictate what is taught for the rest of the school year, to help children do the best they possibly can in the final end of year exams.  Good exam results help build the children’s confidence and are used by the teachers to show parents that although their child may have a disability this does not mean they cannot succeed.  One of the school’s mottos is ‘Disability is not Inability’, a very important message in a country where disabled children are regarded as a shame and are often abandoned. Read the rest of this entry »

13th October in Reading – volunteer social confirmed – will you be there ?

we’re ready to meet you

Our volunteers’ get-together next month is confirmed – we know where we’re going to be and which of our previous and future volunteers are going to be there … though we would certainly be delighted if more of you would like to come along: the more, the merrier!

So, if you’d like to join us and other volunteers on the afternoon of 13th October in central Reading, please email kate@travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk as soon as possible so that we can add you to our list of attendees.

We’ll soon be emailing everyone who’s already accepted our invitation with full details of the afternoon’s location, transport links etc.


volunteering – the right people in the right places

I (Kate) just LOVE my job and I thought you’d like to read these snippets from 2 recent volunteers about how ‘people and places’ works closely with volunteers, right from the beginning – doing our utmost to put the right people in the right places:

‘I was very impressed (and grateful!) that when my original allocated project proposed a job role that didn’t quite align with my experience, People & Places organised for me to change to Treak. This was a perfect fit and I’m glad I ended up there!’
‘Kate and the team at People and Places were very helpful, accommodating and efficient in
organising my time volunteering. I got in touch hoping to get away as soon as possible with short notice and they were able to make it work for me whilst managing my expectations. I appreciated Kate advising me on the country that might be best suited to me and she put me in touch with others whilst she was away so that the process could be sped up!’

seventeen girls in Morocco – first in their families to go to university

Very few girls from the rural communities of the High Atlas Mountains get the opportunity of continuing their education beyond primary school. Secondary schools, mostly several kilometres away in larger towns, are not accessible to them because:

  1. Their parents can’t afford to pay for lodgings or transport near secondary schools
  2. Their parents don’t have the confidence in existing facilities to entrust their daughters to be away from home.

One of the programmes we work with is Education for All in Morocco – and we are thrilled to share this news from them with you:

“We got the exam results in yesterday for the ‘A’ Level equivalent and wanted to let you know that 17 girls have passed and are University-bound! Here they are with their certificates.

“Six more will resit their exams so we expect we will have more who will pass.

“We are of course all very proud of them. They are the first in their families to go to University and therefore this will have a significant impact on their lives and their families and communities.

“Thank you for supporting us so these kind of results can happen.”


To learn more about how you could volunteer on this programme take a look here

To learn about how you could donate to this programme take a look here

working to make our support for volunteer projects worthwhile and sustainable

One of our core values at people and places is to make sure that the work our volunteers do is of real use to the communities where we work and forms part of an initiative that can and will be continued after the volunteer goes home.  We are determined to avoid the kind of volunteering where someone goes into a community with an idea we think is good but which is in fact irrelevant to the way things work in that country, or which has already been done in a slightly different way by an earlier volunteer.

How on earth can we hope to achieve such a challenging aim?

At the heart of our work is the support plan.  Each project has a support plan, available for prospective volunteers to view on our website.   For example, click here to read the support plan for youth development in Saint Lucia.  The support plan contains a short list of aims for the work of volunteers on that project, plus some suggestions as to activities volunteers might do to help achieve them.  These aims are NOT thought up by us – they are the needs expressed by people who actually work at the projects and by our local partners who live locally and work on a regular basis with the project so have a much better idea than us of what local needs are.  The suggested activities are simply that – suggestions.  It would not be possible to write a finite list of actions to be carried out because we cannot know in advance what skills and experiences each volunteer may be able to contribute – however they do give a guideline for volunteers in seeing how they might be able to use their skills to help achieve a need which local people have expressed.  Whilst we constantly use the support plan to inform the volunteer matching process, it is formally reviewed every two years, and at that stage projects and local partners add new aims and suggested activities, remove any aims which have been completely fulfilled or are no longer relevant and they and we together detail what has been done by volunteers within those two years towards achieving existing aims.  At this stage we also add in, if the project agrees, any recommendations made by volunteers as to how their work could be built on by others who follow them.  However the support plans can be changed and added to at any time, and some local partners regularly ask us to add aims or to make other alterations. Read the rest of this entry »

stories from the field – by volunteers

Elsewhere in this newsletter, you’ll be able to read Dianne’s full report from her own recent volunteer placement in Port Elizabeth.  

At people and places, we firmly believe that sharing volunteers’ reports, before and after placements, is vital in helping everyone to appreciate their own role in a project’s development and sustainability.

Here are some extracts from 2 more volunteers who also worked in South Africa this year, though on a different project from Dianne – in Kruger. Husband & wife team, Paul and Jacky, worked on different project needs and for different periods of time, while sharing each other’s company and experiences as residents of the lovely (and safe!) volunteers’ accommodation.  Read more about this project here. Read the rest of this entry »

child welfare and volunteering

We, at people and places, sincerely 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.

We started people and places because we believe that it is possible to design and manage volunteer programmes that deliver the support needed by communities – at the same time, ensuring safe and worthwhile experiences for volunteers.

Those of you who follow our news will know that our work has attracted awards for both the day to day work we do and our campaigning (in both instances as you read through the winners you can see what amazing company we were in).

None of this work have we done on our own.

We have been working closely with Friends International Childsafe Movement for a number of years and recently on their Global Good Practice Guide Lines to responsible volunteering for businesses – we believe it is a realistic and thought provoking guide – and we would encourage all volunteers to read it – it will help you assess the ethics of any organisation offering volunteer travel- take a look here

We are proud to have been part of such important guidelines – and we want to take this opportunity to thank Friends International – in helping us improve our child protection policies – and thus support volunteers in their search for ethical ways to volunteer for children.

take a look here at our statement about why we do not work with orphanages