Vocational Impact Collage, Student Volunteering, South Africa, Ghana, India

FAQs

Welcome to the Vocational Impact Frequently Asked Questions Page

Here you will find the answers to all the questions we are regularly asked when we speak to university students about their volunteering abroad trip.

1. What does does the volunteer fee cover/why am I paying?

We donate 40% of everything directly, un-restricted to the project partners we work with, and you will volunteer with. We support all our project partners with their development and help recruit, promote and find the best volunteers for their needs. We are unique in this way. 

This donation is set to cover your general living costs (Accommodation, WIFI, cleaning, food, aircon rooms, travel to and from the airport, pre-trip support, on the ground support and aftercare, as well as a built-in donation for the organisation where the placement takes place. (Please note that food is not included on Bobbi Bear placements). 

Vocational Impact has been awarded ‘ethical organisation’ status with UK universities, and works closely with university personnel to establish ethical working practices.

2. Can you tell me what vaccinations/medication I need for my trip?

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

Please note, if you are travelling to Ghana, you will be need to show a certificate to prove you have had a Yellow Fever certificate, when you enter the country. You can be refused entry without the correct documentation to prove you have been vaccinated. 

3. How long do I have to volunteer for? When does the placement start?

There is no set time that you volunteer for, although we require a commitment of 2 weeks or more. We encourage longer volunteering, as this is when you gain the most from your experience. We have found that 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.

The start dates are also 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.

4. I have dietary requirements…

Please let us know ASAP if you have any dietary requirements, so we can ensure the project’s kitchen staff are briefed when preparing food. Please advise us as soon as possible, as they made need time to order in food. We may not be able to cater for all, 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. 

5. What provisions do I bring for mosquitos?

Bring a mosquito net. We recommend you bring some strong insect repellent (Deet or similar) with you. Ghana is a high risk Malaria zone. Please check with your coordinator before you travel. 

6. Is Vocational Impact ‘Voluntourism?’

No, in fact 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 different. We do this by sending the largest % of donations direct 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. 

You can read more about Our Story and our founders mission here

7. Do I need a visa for my trip?

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 consult 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.

You can also read this helpful guide and talk to a member of our team who can help you. 

8. Where can I volunteer?

We currently offer volunteering opportunities in South Africa (both Durban & Johannesburg), Ghana (Accra and Senya-Beraku) and India (Jaipur). We have worked and selected these very carefully, based on 20+ years of relationships and international development. 

Social Science Student, South Africa

9. I have a question. How do I get in touch with Vocational Impact?

Visit this page here and one of our team will get back to you ASAP. We pride ourselves on the relationships we build with each and everyone of our volunteers. You can also check out our YouTube channel for interviews with past volunteers or our blog, which has up-to-date testimonials. 

10. How to I get a CRB/DBS police check?

We require ALL volunteers to have an up to date police check. We work within vulnerable communities, and closely with children. You will also be required to sign child protection and health and safety documents, prior to your departure date. We take safety VERY seriously.

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

11. What student volunteering placements do you currently offer?

We currently other the following programmes:

Anthropology

Art, Design, Music and Photography

Child Development, Mental Health and Social Work 

Criminology

Medical, Nursing and Healthcare 

Psychology

Humanities and Social Sciences

Sports Development & Fitness

Business, Marketing & NGO Management

However if you cannot find a programme relevant to you, your university degree or what you are looking for, please drop us an email and we will do our best to help! We tailor placements for university students and professionals, as we are guided by the NGO partner projects needs. If you have a skill or you are passionate about serving the communities we work with in India, Ghana and South Africa, then get in touch. 

12. I’m convinced. I’m ready to commit. How do I sign up/book/apply?

Go and complete a short application here. 

Please have you latest CV and a cover letter ready to attach to your application. We will then arrange to have a chat with you to go through your application and look at dates available. YOu are then required to send a deposit (don’t worry, this is then taken off your final fee amount). 

We can’t wait to hear from you. 

13. I can’t commit at the moment, but I’d like to stay in touch with you and arrange in the future

The best thing to do is to sign up to our newsletter, where we’ll share our latest news, useful articles on travel and volunteering, and testimonials from volunteers who have volunteered with us.

There is a link you can click on in the top right hand corner of the main page. Just submit your name and email, and we’ll be able to stay in touch.

Alternatively, you can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube, linked on the same page.

If you have a specific time you’d like to start looking at your placement in the future, please let us know and we’ll make a note to contact you in the future when you’d like to revisit arranging a placement.

14. Where can I find testimonials from previous volunteers?

HERE. And they are great. You can also visit our blog page here 

You can use the navigation buttons on this page to narrow down options if you’re already set on a specific programme or location. Just hit the ‘testimonials’ and all will be reviled. 

15. How is the volunteer fee used?

We are driven by international development, sustainable funding and reliable donations for all our project partners. This is at the core of our mission. We have very carefully worked out a funding mechanism to support the running costs of our partner projects. We are driven by THEIR needs, and then seek university students and professionals that match the skills. We use part of the fees to visit and talk directly to students and professionals, and to promote the work that our partner projects are doing.

We have researched and reviewed this extensively, based on over 25 years of fundraising, international development and NGO Management experience. You can read more about it here, and please ask us if you have any specific questions. We have worked with university students who have written dissertations on this subject and we love to discuss this in depth. 

16. Do you have some advice for fundraising?

YES!!!! We love fundraising, this is the main drive for us. We fundraise to help our partner projects with their running costs. We are founded on 25+ years of fundraising experiences and know all about the stresses and worries about raising money for your trip. We have a fundraising hub available to you. We have won grants and bursaries for our university students, and supported the fundraising targets.

You can visit these two links to give you some initial ideas;

Link One

Link Two

Additionally, when you apply and your place is confirmed, we’ll send you our fundraising pack, which has lots more information in.

 

17. Why do you charge a volunteer fee to volunteer?

Just like any travelling you do, there are key things that need to be paid for, like flights, accommodation, transport, and support. We have always been transparent about our fees, and we have tried to make this as cost effective and clear as we can. There is no hidden fees, or costs. But, we work with communities and NGOs that struggle for funding every day, and we want to support them in any way we cam, one of the main ways is to send them funds.

We work with partner project NGOs in India, Ghana and South Africa, who face funding challenges every day, and live in fear of not finding adequate funds to support the mission they set out to achieve. This means we charge a fee, and this contains a compulsory donation to the project you will stay with. This is our core founding mission. You can read more about this here

18. I (or a parent/guardian) have concerns about safety? 

Our destinations are very safe. We send student 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. However, there is always a risk, and we have conducted risk assessments at each of our project partners. Student volunteers are required to sign risk assessments and health and safety documentation before they depart to ay 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 on one of our placements without this.

You read our blog here about staying safe

19. Can I contact other volunteers who will be on the same placement as me?

Certainly. Once you have confirmed your place, we’d be more than happy to introduce you to your fellow volunteers, either over email or social media. We have FB groups and WhatsApp links so you can feel as comfortable as possible before you travel. 

20. Can I speak to a student volunteer who has previously been to a project that I am interested in? 

Yes. Drop us an email and we’ll link you in with someone who has already completed a placement. We also have many interviews available on our YouTube channel with previous completed students, and we have hundreds of testimonials

21. How do I get from the airport to the project, once I have landed? 

We will arrange collection for you from the airport. You’ll be collected by a member of staff from the project. this is included in the fee we charge you. We ask you to wear a Vocational Impact T-Shirt so the project partner can identify you easily. 

You will be required to send all your travel information to your volunteer manager ahead of departure. We can then arrange everything for you.

22. Do you have a post placement alumni network?

YES, and you will be invited to join when you have completed an application. You are encouraged to build close relationships during your placement. 

We also have beautiful write ups from previous volunteers on our TESTIMONIAL page on the blog. You can also keep in touch with past volunteers on our social media platforms.

23. How much does it cost?

Each project varies slightly, but as whole, your volunteer fee will cover ALL your on-the-ground costs once you land in-country. Specifically, a week at each project is as follows:

South Africa -€450 – €560 (€64-€80 per day) 

Ghana – €350 (€50 per day)

India – €450 (€54 per day) 

This includes all your in-country costs, pre-departure checks and a compulsory donation to the project you will volunteer with.

 

24. Do you offer any discounts for volunteering long-term at a project?

We offer a discount to volunteers who wish to stay at a project for over 4 weeks. For the first 4 weeks, the normal weekly rate will apply as above. However for the 5th week and subsequent weeks, the following rate will reduce. Please ask us about discounts and group rates.

If you would like to stay a project a longer duration, such as 3 months or more, please contact us and let us know what you would like to do, and we will provide you with an individual quote. 

We also work with students on year placements.

25. What should I pack for my trip?

This is very dependant on which country you are travelling too, and what season they are in. However, this helpful blog and video can tell you more

26. How do I pay for my Volunteer Placement? 

Many of our volunteers fundraise for their fees. Imagine you are going on holiday and have to pay for accommodation, food, transport and airport travel. This is all included in your volunteer fee.

We also include the donation for the project you are going to. Our fees are set so the host organisation don’t lose money-hosting volunteers; rather gain valuable experience, support and investment to their work.

You can set up an online fundraising page and encourage your network of friends and family to support your ambitions to volunteer. Many volunteers do fun activities to raise money and awareness.

We can help you with ideas. We believe that fundraising is a really important skill to learn and your investment into the work really is life-changing for them and the whole experience will be life changing for you.

Read more here

27. What are the outcomes for the volunteer and partner organisations?

Student volunteers will gain valuable hands-on, real-life experience working with vulnerable children in a challenging environment. They will experience the inside workings of a busy charity on the ground, saving lives of children. They will gain valuable perspective on different cultures and customs. you will gain valuable career enhancement experience, and many students find that this trip gives them practical expereince in their field, and therefore find a job.

80% of our volunteers say that their trip was a major factor in securing their first jobs after university  

Many volunteers gain practical experience relating to their chosen university studies or career focus. We have noticed a growing number of volunteers applying as part of their university studies.

For the organisation, they gain a stable income to support their work and running costs. Our partner project organisations gain a huge amount from international volunteers sharing their education, skills and ideas. 

28. How do student volunteers maintain a relationship with the organisation when they return?

Many of the volunteers have such a life changing experience that they want to help share their stories, which we put on our blog, and send out to out networks via email. We believe the experience will be so powerful that word of mouth will enhance the volunteer numbers. An organic growth process is our aim.

We are dealing with some challenging issues and we work tirelessly to support the development and funding of the projects we partner with.

29. How are you supporting student volunteers whilst on site?

We have volunteer coordinators at all sites and we are in constant communication with them while they are there. We know the teams on the ground very well and they to give us daily updates. We do everything we can to help them have an amazing time, knowing they are supported. But we are also aware that we don’t want everything to be too processed. We are here to help guide the whole process, from early engagement, during, and after.

We require each volunteer on placement to complete and return a mid-placement form, which helps us track happiness and the wellbeing of our volunteers on placement.

30. If I have any further questions after booking my place, who should I ask?

We are here to help guide you through any questions or concerns you have, before, during and after your trip. So keep asking, and we will keep replying.

You will also have on the ground support during your placement, plus regular opportunity to feedback any concerns. 

31. What is the volunteer application and acceptance process?

We assess each application separately, looking at their reasons and motivations. We are approaching graduates because of the nature of the projects. We don’t want to decide for people, only provide the core information and allowing students to decide if it’s right for them.

We aren’t a big company we are a small organisation looking to build a sustainable funding model in the charity sector and offer reliable income for the projects on the ground in India, Ghana and South Africa.

We will keep our size small to stay personable at all times. We want to build a community of like-minded people, who want to gain and give in different ways.

Vocational Impact, South Africa Student Volunteering

32. What’s the Welcome Pack?

The Welcome Pack is what we send out via email once we have offered volunteers a place on one of our placements. Usually, we’ll speak to volunteer on the phone before this stage is reached. 

The Welcome Pack contains several documents: further information on the programme and project, checklists of to-do’s for the volunteer before they travel, and documents which need to be completed by the volunteer and returned to us.

33. When do I need to pay the fee for my place?

We ask student volunteers to pay their full volunteer fee 60 days before they depart at the very latest. We also ask them to pay a deposit to secure their place, with is deducted from their overall fee.

If you are fundraising, we ask you to have your fundraising completed at least 60 days before you depart.

34. How much is the deposit?

The deposit we ask volunteers to pay is £265/€300. Once we offer a volunteer a place on a programme, we ask for them to pay this deposit in order to officially secure their place (so we can then book it in with the project itself). This also comes off your total amount. 

35. Is it still possible for me to visit friends/adventure away from my placement?

Yes. We can offer advice on day trips, and optional extras and how to visit places you may wish to go. We can help plan your itinerary and advise on a structure, however, we would like to highlight that as a student volunteer, your time is very precious to the organisation and team. If you want to travel further afield/throughout the country, this may best be done, before your programme/after.

 


Would you like to Volunteer with us or know more?

Questions? Would you like to participate? That’s great – feel free to email us or call/whatsapp us on: +44 (0) 7704 129 816

Alternatively, complete an application to begin the process of volunteering, and we’ll be in touch with more details!

 

 

Our Team

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