Gap years and voluntary service:
- There are now a myriad of organisations
offering gap year experiences. Many charge large amounts of money
for your experience. Insist on knowing exactly what is being
offered and what they expect of you - questions you should ask
- what is the cost? are there
any other costs to be met?
- is transport to the venue included?
- what accommodation is provided?
Is it shared?
- what meals are provided?
- how many hours work is required?
What type of work?
- do they pay anything?
- what facilities are there for
- what is the status of the organisation
-charitable or profit-making
- what is their ethical policy?
- can they provide references?
- Once you have answers to these,
you should go and take up the references, and also search travel forums for comments by previous
- You really want the project
to be of local value, as well as giving you a valuable experience,
so do probe the organisation on ethical issues. There are good
guides to going about this at ethicalvolunteering.org
or its sister site gapyearresearch.org,
covering topics like how they present the work they do, how organisations
match volunteer skills to the project, how volunteers are selected,
what sort of pre-departure and return briefings are provided.
- Special feature -Raleigh International
- Raleigh (www.raleighinternational.org)
is a youth and education charity that runs adventure and challenge
expeditions for 17-24 year olds from a wide range of backgrounds,
nationalities and life stages with the aim of increasing the
leadership skills of young people and their awareness of their
role as active global citizens.
- Since being founded in1984,
more than 30,000 people have taken part in Raleigh's expeditions,
Raleigh also recruits 'volunteer managers' aged 25 and above,
who are selected on the basis of their specialist skills, as
well as their energy, enthusiasm, leadership, team working and
- Raleigh runs around a dozen
expeditions a year to Borneo (Malaysian), Costa Rica & Nicaragua
and India.Typically a full expedition last ten weeks for venturers
and thirteen weeks for volunteer managers who receive an additional
period of in-country training. For those short on time, there
is also the option for venturers to take part in a five week
expedition during the summer.
- During a full 10-week expedition
venturers will work on three projects: community, environmental
and adventure. The community phase includes projects such as
installing gravity-feed water systems in remote Nicaraguan villages,
constructing eco-sanitation units in Indian villages or building
kindergartens in Borneo; the environmental phase could include
working to transform a former prison island off the coast of
Costa Rica into a wildlife refuge or building elephant trenches
in India; and the adventure phase sees participants trekking
through diverse landscapes such as rainforests, tea plantations,
climbing volcanoes or perhaps learning to dive and conserving
coral reefs in Borneo.
- Raleigh has a permanent field
base and permanent staff in each of its expedition countries
which means that we can build relationships with local communities
and government to ensure that the projects are genuinely needed,
worthwhile and sustainable.
- As a youth and education charity
Raleigh's emphasis is on helping young people realise their potential,
and taking part in an expedition facilitates an increase in self-confidence,
the building of skills such as team working, leadership, planning
and problem-solving, as well as a pride and satisfaction from
helping others through immersing young people in new and challenging
situations. Education and career prospects are enhanced through
taking part in an expedition, as well as giving young people
a chance to become more socially, environmentally and globally
If you are interested in joining as a Venturer or Volunteer Manager,
you can apply online through www.raleighinternational.org.
- Duke of Edinburgh Award -useful guide to thinking about a gap year including
budgeting, checklists and other useful tips.
- findagap.com -sets out to be the most comprehensive
Gap Year information source on the web.
- Gaps for Grumpies -adventure travel and volunteering for the over
- Gapwork -gap year information site. gapwork
gives information on jobs abroad, gap years, summer work, UK
gap years and overseas voluntary work.
- gapyear.com -a complete guide to taking time out.
- gap-year.com -resource for planning a gap year -advice,
message board, volunteering.
- Gap Year Worldwide -a gap year guide, with ideas, volunteer placements
- Global Adventures -a division of the American Institute for Foreign
Study (AIFS), one of the world's leading educational and cultural
exchange organisations. More than one million young people have
participated in AIFS programmes since the organisation was founded
-conservation expeditions, volunteer work, training courses and
career opportunities in Mexico, Ecuador and Costa Rica and take
part in volunteer conservation and community work in over 20
countries worldwide throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia.
- Lattitude Global Volunteering -an international youth development
charity (formerly Gap Activity Projects). Their mission is to
educate and develop young people worldwide by providing inclusive
opportunities for them to make a positive difference to the lives
of others through a distinctive, challenging, structured and
supported international volunteering experience in a culture
and community different from their own.
offer a combination of award winning volunteer projects and adventures
in some of the most fascinating destinations in the world. They
aim to help local communities in developing countries with volunteer
projects, and at the same time enable travellers to gain life-changing
experiences through cultural integration, challenge and adventure.
Destinations include Fiji, Ghana, India, Kenya, Peru, Tanzania,
Thailand, Uganda. Projects combine volunteering, adventure or
sports projects -rugby, hockey, football, netball, cricket, basketball,
swimming, tennis and volleyball.
-the career break specialists -currently has projects in Chile,
Ecuador, The Gambia, India, Kenya, Nepal, Le Sénégal,
Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Romania. A not for profit organisation.
- One World 365
-an online directory of gap year work, volunteer and teaching
- Qest Overseas
-gap year provider specialising in South America and Africa,
and offering ethical volunteering and expedition experiences
for 17-25 year olds.
Gap -gap year provider
with an ethical bias -volunteer with wildlife conservation, work
with children or teach English abroad for just a few weeks up
to a full gap year out.
- Simply Volunteer -overseas volunteer opportunities in their simplest
form -Placements include teaching English, conservation, community,
building, sports coaching, media and marketing.
- Volunteer Abroad -short-term volunteer development assistance
around the world.
- VSO -Voluntary Service Overseas is an international
development charity that works through volunteers and aims to
fight global poverty and disadvantage. They are one of the longest
standing volunteer organisations, and tend to look for people
with relevant skills and experience -there is a searchable databse
of opportunities on the site.
- Worldwide Volunteering -extensive database of volunteer opportunities
and advice on fundraising.
- WWHOOF -World Wide Opportunities on Organic
Farms offers "WHOOFERS" the opportunity to volunteer
on organic farms throughout the world in return for food, accommodation
and the chance to learn about organic lifetsyles.
- www.do-it.org.uk -national database of volunteering opportunities
in the UK.
- Year Out Group
-information and guidance on taking a gap year or career break
for young people and their parents and advisers.
- Yomps http://www.yomps.co.uk -a small gap
year and career break company based in Brighton who aim to provide
a very personal service, the most important aspect of which is
that they know their clients by name. They offer a wide range
of adventure expeditions, volunteer projects, overlanding tours,
scuba diving courses and safari trips.
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