Before we even leave the UK to check out potential projects, we do our research thoroughly. This involves finding out all about the project’s aims, ethos, motivations and why they need participants. Before we try to set this up, we make sure that we can establish a strong working relationship.
With volunteer programmes it is essential that we establish the need for volunteers. We are strongly against volunteers taking the jobs of local people, and so we need to establish how volunteers can fit in with the local framework.
It is of paramount importance to us that projects are well run and safe. We conduct annual risk assessments and regular safety checks on accommodation and tools. Safety must be put at the forefront of our partnerships.
Many of our participants are heading overseas for a long period of time, or doing something very different to what they will have ever done before. It is therefore of the highest importance to us that we can offer support on the ground at our projects so that volunteers are well briefed, settle in well and soon get into the swing of things.
It is important to us to maintain strong and positive relationships with our project partners. Honesty is key here, and so we will only work with projects that show drive and integrity.
To establish our criteria and to get a good feel for a project, it is important that a member of our team, most often the Destination Manager, will visit the project to evaluate, to gather information and create a strong bond with our project partners. This is very important for our participants, as this means that we can prepare them fully after having experienced the country and project personally.
Many of our project partners come from personal recommendations and also with close links that we have with charities and foundations.