FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO ABOUT VOLUNTEERING

Volunteering abroad is a real adventure but it’s not without its complexities. Here’s a list of our most commonly asked questions about skilled based volunteering for students and graduates. 

Are we missing something? Contact us here and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. 

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GETTING STARTED VOLUNTEERING

We cater for current university students and have worked with thousands of students from around the world from 1st years, up to masters and PHD students. We also work with graduates, and professionals offering career breaks and sabbaticals.

Yes, please get in touch if you do not see a placement that directly correlates to your university subject or your professionalism. 

We tailor our placements and have very close relationships with our partner projects, so if you have a skill, then we will be able to apply this to one of our projects. Please complete the enquiry form and we can discuss your options in more depth. 

We have worked with many professionals who offer a greater level of experience to our project partners. We have also worked with retirees, who have travelled to our projects as part of their retirement goals. 

If you are looking to take a career break/sabbatical, then please complete the enquiry form and we can discuss the best way to access a life-changing experience to advance your career goals. 

We have received regular feedback from students to say how their volunteer experience abroad has helped them stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs. We have also worked with professionals who have used their Vocational Impact placement to give evidence of commitment to a career change or how they can adapt their skills to different situations and work in difficult situations. In addition, you get to experience a new country and culture, and this generally gives you a greater global perspective and a deeper understanding of how other people live.

Yes. And we offer a discount to those doing so. We work with hundreds of universities and thousands of individuals a year, so if you are intending to travel as a group, please get in touch ASAP so we can be as accommodating as possible. 

Please complete an enquiry form to discuss your group plans. 

Some of our placements lend themselves to group work. We also encourage corporate groups to consider volunteering as a team building initiative. 

Yes. Once you have completed your registration you will be put into specific communication groups so you can interact directly with volunteers who have completed the placement, and those who are due to travel with you on the same placement. You can also watch interviews with past volunteers on our YouTube channel and read reviews here

Yes. Many of our volunteers decide to take the plunge and go it alone. It’s a great way to meet new people and often, people who commit to a placement gain greatly from the experience. You will be sharing your accommodation with other volunteers, and you will meet and make friends quickly, as we introduce you to others travelling at a similar time to you as soon as you complete your registration.

Visit [click through Contact us] and one of our team will get back to you ASAP.

We pride ourselves on the relationships we build with each and every one of our volunteers.

You can also keep up to date with Vocational Impact on our social media channels; Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and our blog, for testimonials, reviews and travel tips.

We currently work in India, Ghana, South Africa, and Spain. We are looking to expand into many new countries, so ask if your dream destination isn’t listed, as you might be able to head up and establish our new placements. We have worked and selected these locations and projects very carefully, based on over 20 years of relationships and international development work. 

Our placements are available from 1 week to 1 year. 

We encourage volunteers to commit for as long as they can, as this is when you gain the most from your experience. We have found that 4 weeks – 3 months is the ideal time, and we have been told from many volunteers that 2 weeks isn’t long enough. Of course, this varies depending on your destination, and other commitments, so we will always try and be flexible.

We work within vulnerable communities and closely with children. You will be required to sign child protection and health and safety documents, prior to your departure date. We take safety VERY seriously. If you are over 21, you will need to obtain police clearance for some of our projects, please ask when you register if this will apply to you. 

If you are in the UK, you can visit this website

If you are in Europe, you can use this website

The start dates are flexible, and we will work with you around your university or work commitments. We are also aware that flights can vary a huge amount and want to keep costs down where we can for you.

Speak to us about your available dates and we will work with you and our partner projects to find a date and time that suits everyone. Please be aware that some of our placements fill up FAST, and summer months are particularly popular.

Complete the enquiry form and we will register your interest and a member of the Vocational Impact team will be in touch. We will arrange a time to chat to you, this is an opportunity to talk through your experience and place you with the project most suitable to your career goals. 

Next step is to pay a deposit to secure your place which will complete your registration. You will need to clear the full balance of your placement no less than 60 days before the first day of your placement.

We have built-in a development donation to all our placements, which is unrestricted and goes directly to our project partners we work with, and you stay with. All our placements are self-funded and Vocational Impact is a registered charity (under the name Arms Around the Child; UK charity number: 1123038

Vocational Impact supports all our project partners with their development and helps recruit, promote and find the best volunteers for their needs. We are totally unique in this way.

Vocational Impact is a development focused charity, with the NGO projects we partner with at its heart. The donation fee will cover all your pre-departure support, and in-country living costs click here for full list of inclusions

Each project location varies slightly in price, but as a whole your donation fee will cover ALL your in-country costs and pre-departure support, and start from £55 per day. 

A full list of what is included in your donation fee can be found here

We have selected our locations  based primarily because they are considered safe to travel to and from. We pay close attention to the advice of the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office regarding not only the destinations we work in, but their neighbours too. 

We send volunteers to each of our locations all year round and have never had any incidents. The premises where you stay and work will be secure, and you’ll be supervised by a team member at all times.

However, there is always a risk involved when travelling, and we have conducted risk assessments at each of our project partners. Volunteers are required to sign risk assessments and health and safety documentation before they depart to any Vocational Impact placement. 

We work hard on compliance and each volunteer is required to take this seriously too. 

Of course, it’s important to be careful, as you would going anywhere – eg. look after your belongings (especially phones/laptops), don’t go out in the dark on your own, tell someone where you are going. 

We require ALL student volunteers to have full travel volunteer insurance to cover their trip. You cannot participate in one of our placements without this.

We have a dedicated page to health and safety here 

While most of your costs will be covered in the donation fee, there are a few things you will need to arrange independently. Things like your flights, visa (if applicable), travel insurance, optional extras like weekend trips, and spending money are not included. 

Find out about inclusions and exclusions here

Yes. We want to encourage you to travel in pairs or in groups, so offer a discount if you are travelling with a friend, or a group. Please speak to us about the discount available to you. 

You will also receive a discount each week you stay, and the donation fee decreases week by week. The longer you go, the more you save. 

On average, most participants register 9 months ahead of their placement start date. This gives them ample time to prepare, save and fundraise. This also helps to guarantee your first choice of destination is available as some of our placement locations fill up fast. 

No. We require £265 registration fee, and then you have up to 60 days before departure to clear your final balance. You can spread the cost out over many months, in a payment plan that works for you. As long as the full balance is cleared 60 days before departure, you have complete flexibility on making your payments.

The deposit is non-refundable, but we are also aware things can change, so we give people 14 days after booking to withdraw their registration. For full details on cancelation please read our T&C’s.

This is where the magic begins, and also the planning starts. 24 hours after we receive your registration fee you will have confirmation of your placement. We will also send you information and a step-by-step timeline of things you need to prepare ahead of your placement, itineraries, specific information about your placement and project destination, visa guides, travel tips and start introducing you to others you will be travelling with as well as access to talk directly to past volunteers.

Not until your placement dates have been confirmed. We then advise you to look at booking your flights ASAP as this can save you money.

The airports we advice for our destinations are as follows; 

Ghana – Accra Kotoka International 

South Africa – Johannesburg; Tambo International 

India – Jaipur International airport 

South Africa – Durban; King Shaka International Airport

UK; Heathrow or Gatwick 

Spain – Gibraltar / Malaga 

Yes. We’ve been operating for over 15 years so have an abundance of experience in supporting students with university documentation. This can range from items such as hospital allocation letters, proof of your placement, health & safety audits etc. Once you’ve registered on, our administration team will support you throughout this whole process.

Yes. This is something we have been offering for many years and love working with volunteers who have specific ambitions and goals. We can help you structure your placement, and ensure you are meeting your expectations in-country. The planning process usually begins 2-3 months ahead of your departure, so you can start any research ahead of your placement. 

If you are a working professional then we can tailor specific projects to your skill set, whilst looking to gain new and unique work experience on the ground.

Yes, everyone that takes part in one of our placements will need to ensure they have a travel insurance policy in place to cover them for the duration of their trip and any additional activities you participate in.

If you are a working professional then we can tailor specific projects to your skill set, whilst looking to gain new and unique work experience on the ground.

If you are a UK Citizen going to South Africa for less than 90 days, you do not need a visa.

If you are travelling to Ghana, you will need a visa. You will need a visa for India.

Please visit this website (https://www.visahq.co.uk/) as a starting point. Please note it can take several weeks to obtain a visa so please begin the process of researching this and applying as soon as possible.

We have many useful resources to support your visa application process and will guide you through each step. 

If you are a working professional then we can tailor specific projects to your skill set, whilst looking to gain new and unique work experience on the ground.

You can review this website (www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk) to give you some ideas, but we recommend you book an appointment with your GP or your local travel clinic, as a medical professional will be able to discuss this with you and review your medical history.

Yes. As a registered charity, we are governed by the UK Charity Commission and their structural requirements. We have to meet specific monitoring and evaluation criteria, as well as regular audits and financial reporting. 

Our partner projects are run by local staff not expats. We purchase products and food from the communities in which we’re based. We rent our private accommodation from local landlords. And we use public transport whenever it is safe and convenient to do so.

We were founded as a response to the negativity around ‘gap-year’ travel and the criticism of the ‘voluntourism’ culture. We decided we would do things differently. 

We primarily do this by sending the largest % of your donation fees directly to our partner projects, invest a huge amount of time and resources in international development and link up primarily with university degree level volunteers and professionals to ensure a high level of skills exchange. 

Read more here 

Yes. As we are ultimately operating under the UK Charity Commission we are regulated by their guidelines. 

Our longstanding relationships and formal agreements with our partner projects guarantee supervision and support for the duration of your placement. We also follow guidelines laid out by regulatory bodies and professional associations to ensure each placement is structured according to each student’s level of skill and particular interests.

Many universities have specific requirements regarding overseas electives and placements and want a more formal agreement to guarantee standards. 

We work with many institutions that require full audits, and have been approved by most, with complete risk assessments and health and safety measures in place. 

IN-COUNTRY VOLUNTEER SUPPORT

We have selected our locations  based primarily because they are considered safe to travel to and from. We pay close attention to the advice of the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office regarding not only the destinations we work in, but their neighbours too. 

We send volunteers to each of our locations all year round and have never had any incidents. The premises where you stay and work will be secure, and you’ll be supervised by a team member at all times.

However, there is always a risk involved when travelling, and we have conducted risk assessments at each of our project partners. Volunteers are required to sign risk assessments and health and safety documentation before they depart to any Vocational Impact placement. 

We work hard on compliance and each volunteer is required to take this seriously too. 

Of course, it’s important to be careful, as you would going anywhere – eg. look after your belongings (especially phones/laptops), don’t go out in the dark on your own, tell someone where you are going. 

We require ALL student volunteers to have full travel volunteer insurance to cover their trip. You cannot participate in one of our placements without this.

We have a dedicated page to health and safety here 

The Vocational Impact accommodation provides a welcoming, comfortable and private space where you can relax or socialise with other international students across all disciplines. 

Bedrooms are split into male and female, with 4 – 6 beds in each. It is not possible to arrange private rooms as that would mean turning other students away. Bathrooms are shared, and we work on a basis of 1 bathroom per 4 or 5 students.

Our local staff team are on-site, and include a Volunteer Manager, Volunteer Coordinator, Housekeeper, and Caterer, who all work together to keep everything clean, tidy and efficient.

Find out more about where you’ll be staying on our accommodation page.

Please let us know ASAP if you have any dietary requirements so we can prepare the project’s kitchen staff and brief them when preparing food for you. 

Please advise us as soon as possible, as they will need time to order food. We may not be able to cater for every dietary need, as some of the kitchens are preparing over 300 meals a day for residents and on most projects you will be eating a local diet, which will be basic but authentic and prepared by local staff. 

We value quality over quantity, and believe that limiting numbers at our placements is the best way to offer the award winning service we provide to each individual. Therefore, most of our placements are limited to a maximum of 4 maximum.

Please let us know ASAP if you have any dietary requirements so we can prepare the project’s kitchen staff and brief them when preparing food for you. 

Please advise us as soon as possible, as they will need time to order food. We may not be able to cater for every dietary need, as some of the kitchens are preparing over 300 meals a day for residents and on most projects you will be eating a local diet, which will be basic but authentic and prepared by local staff. 

We value quality over quantity, and believe that limiting numbers at our placements is the best way to offer the award winning service we provide to each individual. Therefore, most of our placements are limited to a maximum of 4 maximum.

Yes. We think it’s really valuable to introduce everyone before their placement to each other. This is often a shared immersive experience, and once you have registered, you will be put in contact with others travelling on the same dates, and completing the same placement.

No. Our accommodation is for paid placement attendees only. We take safety very seriously, and go through a  long application process and checks. We are more than happy to help your friends/family find accommodation close by and to help you visit any close family friends during your stay.

The placements are created inclusive of accommodation and in order to get the full experience of being overseas we strongly recommend you stay in the Vocational Impact accommodation provided. There is often a lot of background logistics that go into preparing your placement, with travel to and from the placements and it would be very hard to then change plans to accommodate someone staying in an alternative location.

We take your commitment very seriously and have in-country teams in place to look after you from the moment you land, until the moment you depart. Each project has a volunteer coordinator that will be full briefed before your arrival, and will be looking after you once you arrive. They will help with any concerns you may have, and the Vocational Impact team is also in regular contact with the in-country teams to ensure everything is running smoothly. 

Our in-country teams go above and beyond to prepare and cater for all the Vocational Impact volunteers and we are very proud of the projects and the work they put in to make this experience as life-changing as possible. 

You will be met at the arrivals gate and we will send you comprehensive instructions about what will happen when you arrive at your destination. We send you branded Vocational Impact T-Shirts so the in-country team can identify you easily, as well as brief them before your arrival, including all background info and an up-to-date photo.  We know that the airport can be the most daunting part, and we will be in constant contact with the in-country team’s, to inform them of any delays. They will wait for you, no matter what. You will also be provided with direct in-country contact information of the project volunteer manager assigned to you. 

You can, but it is likely to be expensive, although speak to your mobile provider to see what they can offer. On your first day in-country, our local team will take you to a shop that will sell local sim cards at a very cheap price. This is a much more cost effective way of keeping communication channels open with the Vocational Impact team and fellow housemates. If you choose to get a sim card with data, it also ensures you’ll always have access to the internet.

Most of our accommodation is either located onsite where the placements are being held, or they are very close by. If the placement is taking place further away, we will do our best to arrange transport to and from, or we will use local taxis/buses if safe to do so.

The typical placement hours are Monday-Friday 7am-2pm, however, some run later and some start earlier (because the temperatures can be too high for some activities mid-day in some locations). You will be sent a specific timetable for your placement during the preparation before your placement.

On average, we expect you to be gaining 30+ hours a week of practical work experience. If you need to set specific hours based on your university requirements, then we can assist with this.

Yes. At no point will you be expected to be working alone. We offer structured and tailored placements and monitor your progress throughout. You will be prepped before you depart by the Vocational Impact team and introduced upon arrival to all key members of in-country staff. 

This depends on your destination and your length of stay, and plans in your free-time. The price of your placement includes most things you will need, but we also understand that you will want to explore, which is an additional benefit to your trip. On average we suggest you budget £100 per week, for additional activities.

You do not need to speak the local language, as you will always have some with you that has a high level of spoken English, however, we do advise you to learn the basics as this is a very good way to bond quickly with your local team. Some countries have many many different languages spoken, so we provide basic language guides before you depart. This is the best way to show respect and effort, so we highly recommend you invest some time before you depart.

The world is your oyster so get planning and researching. We have many guides and tips on places to visit during your trip, and we encourage you to explore the wonderful destinations. Our local staff will be able to help you book trips, and we can advise you before you leave on where to go, and what to expect. Get excited, the destinations we operate in are all beautiful and full of magical adventures.

We have detailed ‘in case of emergency’ information that will be sent to you before you depart. This will include all emergency contacts, nearest hospital, local emergency numbers  and we also provide the project and in-country manager with your next of kin and emergency contacts. You will have 24/7 support in-country and the international Vocational Impact team are also there to assist.

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