Here at people and places we are constantly struggling to get enough volunteers for our programmes – there are other sending organisations that manage to attract thousands of volunteers every year – we don’t and I now know we have got so much wrong – so here’s my proposal – I’m sending it off to our advisory board tonight:
1. We’re going to start talking about our projects – after all, how could they possibly run without us?
2. Forget about getting informed consent from the projects that volunteers will be working with – we will save a huge amount of hassle for ourselves and volunteers if we just send them – and hey – the projects are poor so they’ll be grateful for anyone.
3. From now on, the most important skill any volunteer can possibly have is the ability to give us their credit card details
4. In future, all the expenses of travelling etc., incurred by those of us in the UK, will be allocated to “project development” – how would the projects develop without us – and all marketing will be called volunteer recruitment – and we need volunteers to develop projects so it’s project development – SIMPLE
5. We are discontinuing the bespoke screening and preparation process for volunteers – a one size fits all application form and a pre departure pack has been developed – we caused too much confusion before – and we are the best ones to judge after all.
6. We aren’t going to allocate any of the fees to pay our local partners on the ground to care for the volunteers – we have 24/7 cover with our UK mobile numbers.
7. In fact we are going to do away with local partners – who needs ’em? We know all our projects are “community driven” and we got local consent years ago.
8. We are not going to insist that volunteers sign up to and comply with child protection policies – of course we have the best interests of children at heart – so why complicate things?
9. work permits – don’t worry – you can slip in under the radar on a tourist visa – who will know?
10. talking about work, who cares whether volunteers have the right insurance or not? Insurance is only a problem when there’s a problem.
11. What a time waster all that work we put into ensuring that volunteers are contributing skills the projects needs – so what if the 1000th volunteer is singing “head, shoulders, knees and toes” for the unmpteenth time with the children? They’re all having fun aren’t they? And building programmes – we are going to start those – obviously local people don’t know how to rebuild a bridge or a toilet block over and over again.
12. And most important of all – all children should be loved and hugged – by anyone
13. and finally – perhaps our biggest mistake – none of our volunteers get a T-shirt that says “I saved the world” … well I’ve just put an order for 2000 in – so come on down!
(and I must do a hat tip to Justin Francis at www.responsibletravel.com who wrote a piece many years ago explaining why he was turning his back on responsible travel – sorry Justin can’t find it – if you do Im happy to link to it here!)