Psychology & Mental Health - Durban

The Psychology Placement is for current and alumni psychology students, professionals and alumni who want to live in a different social and cultural context in the heart of local communities in South Africa.

The psychology and mental health placement is designed to give essential practical work experience to apply to degree related travel and career progression, while giving back to communities affected by HIV/AIDS.

Operation Bobbi Bear

A community-based response human rights organisation based in Durban, South Africa. Bobbi Bear support children’s right and children who have been victims of sexual abuse. Victims of sexual abuse are thrown into a criminal justice system that is ill equipped to enable them to communicate about their ordeal in a way that safeguards their well-being. The added trauma of children struggling to communicate with police officers who are not trained in working sensitively with abused children means that justice is often not done for the child.

During your stay you’ll be able to apply your research methodologies, gather insights and understand how people’s way of life has developed in South Africa. You will deal with everyday cases that come in, as well as follow up with closed cases and community outreach programmes. where you’ll be involved as a supporting member of the team.

The psychology placement is designed for you to acquire research for a third year dissertation or to simply apply your degree education in communities in need. You can research while volunteering based on your academic interests and dissertation topic. Please ask us about your ideas.

Psychology Placement Abroad, South Africa, Bobbi Bear

 

“This is an incredible project to volunteer with. Those who practice or are studying social work, counselling, psychology, child development, youth work or anthropology, I believe can gain a lot from this experience. Working within a different cultural framework, understanding the challenges of that environment and learning how NGOs work to overcome them can deepen your understanding of a subject and enable you to broaden your approach to it.”

Full testimonial ⇒ Eilidh Quigg, Queen Margret University, Forensic Psychology, 2018

 

*Please be aware, that places are limited, and in the summer months, fill up fast as this are very popular and unique placements

 

Go to emergency call-outs and support the Operation Bobbi Bear Child Safety Officers (CSOs) throughout the abuse cases that come in during your programme.

Visit local police stations, hospitals and the High Court to assist with trauma recovery and support victims throughout the process.

Be closely involved with the rescued children when they come to the rescue centre, and/or support on site where the case is attended too on location, this will include comforting them, counselling them and loving them, using your experience and knowable working in this field.

During your stay you will shadow the Bobbi Bear staff and support where needed. You will give guidance, listen and learn about the different cultures and policies within them.

You will gain insight and experience the social welfare system of South Africa

You will participate in lectures at rural schools to raise awareness about sensitive issues such as HIV/AIDS, sexual abuse and sex education through the use of the ‘Edu-Toy’

Attend ‘The Tree’ clinic and help develop outreach programmes that bring rural communities together to share stores and empower women and children.

You will learn about the ‘Bobbi Bear bear’ a toy used to support the case building from first contact to prosecution.
Bobbi Bear Example Volunteer Schedule *Please note that Bobbi Bear is an emergency response organisation, sometimes you will be shadowing staff, other times you might be required to hold a child's hand whilst waiting to see a doctor, or take care of a child at the centre.

4 week placement
First Day: On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with. You will be taken to your accommodation and given a meal.
Training: 2 Days
The training will begin the day after you arrive. This consists of 2 days with a Child Safety Officer, the founder of Bobbi Bear, important history, Bobbi Bear operations and current cases.
Weekends:
Friday: Mum’s and babies at the Illovo Tree
7.00am – 2pm
Saturday: Children’s Day at the Illove Tree
7.00am – 2pm
Sunday: (This could be rotated if Sunday is a required working day)
Free time

Weekdays: Volunteers work for approximately 3 to 5 hours per day. A typical schedule is as follows:
7.00 AM – Breakfast at the volunteer house. Debrief of current cases. Allocation of buddy/mentor for week 1 (2 weeks of shadowing if 4 week placement)
7.30 AM – Volunteers travel with their buddy for the day. Start time and daily workload depends on the project that the individual volunteer is participating on.
1.00 PM – Volunteers break for lunch. Volunteers either travel back to the volunteer house or eat a packed lunch at their placement. After lunch, volunteers continue with their volunteer work (where applicable).
3.00 PM – 4.00 PM – Work with the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to return to the volunteer house, plan for the following day’s activities or use their free time as they wish.
7.00 PM – Dinner at the volunteer house.
AIRPORT PICK UP
Bobbi Bear is around 40 minutes drive from the Durban airport. A member of the Bobbi Bear staff will meet you off your flight and take you back to the airport.

TRAINING
Bobbi Bear
A long serving member of the Bobbi Bear family will guide you through everything you need to know about working with Bobbi Bear during your stay. You will learn about the history of HIV/AIDS in South Africa, how they use ‘the bear’ and what procedures you will need to go through when a case comes into Bobbi Bear HQ.

ACCOMMODATION
Bobbi Bear has a beautiful and very secure volunteer house with garden and all amenities. You will have your own bed, hot shower, wifi, fridge/freezer in room, air con, kitchen and tea/coffee. You will stay with other volunteers. A great way to bond and make friends.

FOOD is not included, there is a foodhall/foodmarket next to the volunteer house where you can purchase all necessary food.

SUPPORT
You will be guided through every step of your volunteer programme. You will be assigned a member of staff to answer any pre-trip questions. You will also have a member of staff at the project to help with anything whilst you are in South Africa.
You will have some time off to explore South Africa. Please look at the Optional Extras for additional trips and adventures.
We want you to have the experience of a lifetime. You are a VIP after all.

Although this is not a holiday but an opportunity to invest into an amazing charity working with some of South Africa’s most vulnerable children, we want you to have the full South Africa experience. That is why we can arrange extra trips for you during your stay at Bobbi Bear. These can be arranged once in S.A. with the team at Bobbi Bear, or before through your support officer.

Cooking an authentic African meal
Zulu home visit
Church visit
Fishing trip
Beach trip
Farm visit
Safari
Sky diving
The price starts from ****€560 per week**** and reduces the longer you commit.

This fee is set to cover your living costs (Accommodation, WIFI, cleaning, kitchen use, aircon rooms, travel to and from the airport, pre-trip support, on the ground support and aftercare) We have built in a direct donation for the organisation you will volunteer. There is more info in the 'Included' tab.

We are a fundraising charity organisation encouraging sustainable international development with all of our project partners. Therefore we have built in a direct 100% donation to the host organisation to support their running costs and included your living costs (accommodation, 3x meals per day, airport transfers, pre-departure support and aftercare)

We encourage you to fundraise for your fee’s, flights and spending money and can advise you on methods and bursaries available. We have over 30 years joint fundraising experience and we see fundraising as an additional bonus skill for career development for each student.
Visas

South Africa does not require visas for UK passport holders. If you are from outside of the EU please let us know and we will find out details for you. You will need a visa if you plan to stay longer than 3 months.

Flights

Flights from the UK range from £400-£600 depending on your time of travel. SkyScanner and Kayak are great ways to search for the lowest fares.

Injections

You will need to check with you doctor to find out what injections you require. Everyone is different, so please check. Although this is a safe area of South Africa, some injections may be required before you travel.

Optional extras

These can be arranged at an addition cost. These are not expensive costs and will undoubtedly be less that a tour operator.

UK travel to and from the airport

We can help you plan your journey, but we cannot pay for it. Just ask.
How much money do you think I will need to bring? How much do you think food, travel etc. cost?


This is dependent on what you would like to do around your volunteer programme. There are options to go on a Durban night tour, Tala the local game reserve (safari). There are also options to go to a local Zulu church, street market, township. These will all be relatively cheap. I would say £200 extra per month. Regarding food, there is a supermarket next to Bobbi Bear HQ, so base this on your current daily food budget.


Is it still possible for me to visit friends/adventure away from Bobbi Bear during my programme?


Yes. Operation Bobbi Bear can offer advice on day trips and how to visit places you may wish to go. We will help you plan your itinerary. We would like to highlight that as a volunteer, your time is very precious to the Bobbi Bear team. If you want to travel further afield/throughout South Africa, this may best be done, before your programme/after.


Should I organise anything else to do with my time or will I be occupied most of the time?


You will be busy, but the nature of the charity means that sometimes you will have free time to yourself. Operation Bobbi Bear is an emergency rescue centre, so it can be hard to predict when you will be very busy, and when you will have some down time. Our advice is to expect the unexpected and be flexible.


The average week is usually busy in the mornings, and then more quiet in the afternoons/evenings. There may be children living at the house with you, and there will be morning and night requirements. Helping them up, have breakfast and general playing. Then Friday and Saturday will be ‘The Tree’ and the community projects. Therefore we ask if you do want to arrange trips, in the week is a better time.






Do we know yet what I’ll be doing while I’m at Bobbi Bear? Is there a set plan or is it more of a day-by-day schedule?


We can give a rough plan but there may be changes. You will go with staff on cases to support victims at the police station and hospitals. You will visit townships and victims for post- trauma counselling. There will be an element of routine, but there will also be times where everyone has to jump in the cars and attend emergency situations. There may or may not be children staying at the house, so this will depend on the time you are there.


Overview


Go to emergency call-outs and support the Operation Bobbi Bear Child Safety Officers (CSOs) throughout the abuse cases that come in during your programme.

Visit local police stations, hospitals and the High Court to assist with trauma recovery and support victims throughout the process.

Be closely involved with the rescued children when they come to the rescue centre, and/or support on site where the case is attended too on location, this will include comforting them, counselling them and loving them, using your experience and knowable working in this field.

During your stay you will shadow the Bobbi Bear staff and support where needed. You will give guidance, listen and learn about the different cultures and policies within them.

You will gain insight and experience the social welfare system of South Africa

You will participate in lectures at rural schools to raise awareness about sensitive issues such as HIV/AIDS, sexual abuse and sex education through the use of the ‘Edu-Toy’

Attend ‘The Tree’ clinic and help develop outreach programmes that bring rural communities together to share stores and empower women and children.

You will learn about the ‘Bobbi Bear bear’ a toy used to support the case building from first contact to prosecution.




Are there any projects that you would specifically like me to raise awareness of in the follow up to my trip?


One of the most useful things you can do is document your experience. How you are feeling before and during your programme, what you are hoping to gain, what were your biggest challenges, what gaps for improvement are you able to see?

A Bobbi Bear diary is a great way to remember your programme too.

Your experience and story will become key in future volunteers supporting the work of Bobbi Bear. Volunteer Invest can provide guidelines for this, week by week to help you record your time with Bobbi Bear. Another very useful thing to do is tell your network and community about your experience through social media. Don’t forget to use our #volunteerinvest so we can share.


Is there anything specific you think I need to bring other than basic necessities? Eg does Bobbi Bear have any particular clothing policy? Is there anything I shouldn’t bring for security reasons or is the house fairly secure?


The house is very secure. We advise volunteers to take some long skirts, for example, the Zulu church requires long skirts to be worn by the women. It can be hot in the summer, so dress for this. There is aircon, so do take cardigans. Also, July is their winter, so trousers, shoes and jumpers. You will also be provided a Volunteer Invest T-shirt.


How are volunteers trained? What is the process?


We assess each application separately, looking at their reasons and motivations. We are approaching phycology students and therapy courses because of the nature of the South Africa project at Bobbi Bear. We don’t want to decide for people, only giving them the core information and allowing them to decide if it’s right for them. We aren’t a big company we are a small charity looking to build a sustainable model in the charity sector and offer reliable income for the Arms Around the Child 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.

During your stay, you will be given orienteering and training with the staff on the ground. These are people who have been dedicated and working with the projects for a considerable time.





How do you maintain a relationship with the organisation after your volunteer programme is complete?

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.


Do returned volunteers recruit new volunteers?


This isn’t intentional, but it happens. We don’t force anything onto our volunteers. If they want to tell their story, and share then of course we will support this. But it’s not an aim, more of a coincidence. The nature of the programme means that we do have repeat volunteers and referrals. We love expanding the community of like-minded people.


What are the programme outcomes for the volunteer and partner organisations?

The volunteers will gain valuable experience working with vulnerable children and communities. They will experience the inside workings of a busy charity on the ground saving and supporting children affected by austerity. They will gain valuable perspective on different cultures and customs.


For the organisation, they gain a stable income to support their work, doing what they do, and not have to worry about how to turn on the lights or feed themselves. They also gain physical support and they learn a great amount from international volunteers. You can see interviews with all the project founders on our YouTube channel, talking about the impact to their organisations from receiving international volunteers.


How are you supporting 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 too 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.
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