WorldWide volunteering interview: Liz Haigh

Liz Haigh

Volunteer co-ordinator

“My job is to answer people’s initial queries and to help them use our database to find their ideal volunteering project. Sometimes we get people who come to us and know exactly what they want and other times they have only a vague idea and just need as much information as possible.”

“Our aim is to promote volunteering so that people know more about it. We have five volunteer project managers and they go into schools and speak to students about volunteering – and try to change the image of it, not all projects are working in old people’s homes, there are some really exciting and different projects.”

FUNDING

“We’re funded by lots of different organisations; we apply to charitable trusts for grants to fund our projects and services.”

“The enquiries we get are from two main age groups, the 16-21 year olds and older people who have taken early retirement.”

“Young people seem more aware now because of the research available to do on the internet.”

“Volunteering helps people out and also helps yourself out, and makes them stand out from the crowd.”

“People these days that were once regarded as old really aren’t now, people want an adventure and now that the kids have left home, flights are cheaper and there is more and more in the media about opportunities for older people – they are thinking ‘I’ve earned my money, I want to do something different, not just sit around’.”

MEANINGFUL TRAVEL

“When I travelled I don’t think I even thought about volunteering, now it seems people plan their trips a lot more and think about doing a volunteering project.”

“People combine working abroad and doing a volunteering project, especially people who go on projects for a year.”

“We have links with 1,400 voluntary organisations and around 1.1 million projects are listed in our database.”

“We’ve had some really good feedback from those using the service, some people don’t know where to go for projects, especially the ones in really obscure countries, and so we are a good starting point.”

ADVICE

“Think properly about where you really want to go, try and narrow it down to a country – rather than just saying ‘Africa’. A lot of people forget just how big the world is. Do lots of research before you go and raise money before jetting off.”

LARGE COMPANIES

“The large companies that offer volunteer placements operate exactly like travel agents, and I’ve heard a lot of complaints from people that they thought a percentage of their money they paid for the trip would be paid to the organisation they were working with but in fact it wasn’t. Companies like i-to-i are charging an awful lot of money but whether people get as much out of it as they would going with a smaller, more specialist agency, and remains to be seen.”

WHAT DO YOU GET OUT OF VOLUNTEERING

“People get more confidence, they see things they would never normally see, meet lots of different people, if you’re going to a completely different culture then you’re going to see a completely different people, way of doing things, and get an insight into a different set of values, you learn how to get on with different people and you learn how to tolerate.”

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Explore posts in the same categories: Volunteer organisations

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