Groups round the world can vary in size from 8 up to 30 at the very most. A typical project in Europe tends to have around 12 participants and at least one group leader. Each project has a mix of nationalities - living and working together - usually 2 or 3 per country. So, it could be 2 volunteers from the UK, 3 from Germany, 2 from Japan, 1 from USA...
An International Volunteer Project is a short term project (2-4 weeks) bringing together a group of volunteers from many different countries. The group lives and works together on a specific project in a particular community. These can range from looking after turtle eggs in Mexico to helping prepare Buddhist festivals in Asia. The main categories of project are:
- Social Project
- Working with children and young people
- Study Project
- Working with people with disabilities
- Working with elderly people
- Festival Project
Xchange Scotland is part of 2 main networks - CCIVS (part of UNESCO) and the Alliance. We believe in equal exchange of volunteers. We host international volunteer alongside local charities and NGOs here in Scotland - and we send volunteers to take part in similar projects overseas. We believe in projects being set-up and run locally and sustainably. We do not set up projects overseas ourselves. This is why we work within these networks. For more info about the networks - see further down...
The accommodation varies project to project. It really depends on where the project is. All accommodation will have cooking facilities and, of course, suitable access to washing and toilet facilities. Some have internet access. You could be staying in wigwams in the Romanian mountains or sleeping in beds outside in the Moroccan desert. It really depends where the project is being hosted.
£250 + transport to the project. The £250 is the project contribution that goes to the sending organisation (Xchange Scotland). As soon as a volunteer has been offered a place on a project the £250 needs to be sent to Xchange Scotland before the volunteer's place can be confirmed on the project. Food and accommodation at the project are covered. Pre-departure training in Glasgow for volunteers going on a project is also provided. Once your place has been confirmed, then you can organise your travel to the project.
Some projects in the global South ask for an Extra Fee. This can vary from £50-£150. This is because these countries do not send many volunteers on projects, and this Extra Fee means that they can keep offering projects to come on. The Extra Fee is paid on arrival in the country of the project.
This depends on where the project is being hosted. Each project will have one agreed common language for the duration of the project. In most cases, this tends to be English. However, it is important that you check this before picking a project.
It is worth bearing in mind that an IVP is a great place to pick up another language.
Participants require enthusiasm, energy and a commitment to the project, but no need for specific skills. Requirements for each project do vary and it is always worth thoroughly checking the project descriptions. Throughout the duration of the project you will certainly be introduced to many new skills. Xchange Scotland provides a Training Day for all volunteers before they go away. This usually takes place at the end of May (although there are additional options). We strongly recommend that all volunteers attend this training. It provides volunteers a space to get prepared and explore some of the issue they will face during a project and how to get the most out of their time away. The Training Day takes place in Glasgow and the costs of the day are covered by the volunteer's project contribution.
At the end of the summer, Xchange Scotland also puts on a Gathering event. This is to bring together those that went away on projects through the summer or have been involved with Xchange Scotland through the year. This is a fun, social event to share each other's stories and experiences of being away, celebrate the achievements of volunteers and look at further opportunities to be involved with Xchange Scotland locally and internationally. Again this takes place in Glasgow, usually in early October.
Yes. All volunteers attending an IVP require travel insurance. It is up to the volunteer to arrange this. Also, if you are going on a project in Europe, it is advised that you have a European Health Insurance card with you. These are free and easy to get - just follow the link.
To see if you need a VISA to go to the country you are applying for check out the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website. This is a wealth of up-to-date info on all kinds of things - including entry requirements for each country. We strongly recommend all volunteers research their country through the FCO site thoroughly before applying and before departing on a project. If volunteers do require a VISA, it is up to the volunteer to organise it. The host organisation in the country you are going to will be able to provide a supporting letter if required.
Xchange Scotland works through a well-established network of partner organisations with a history going back to the 1920s. All the international volunteer projects are set up by local NGOs supported by our partner organisation in that country. Xchange Scotland does not set up projects overseas. We work this way because it makes the best projects - locally-led and sustainably-ran. It also means that we do not shoulder the high expenses involved in setting up projects overseas ourselves. The project contribution from the volunteer goes to Xchange Scotland as the sending organisation. Unlike other organisations that offer international volunteering opportunities, Xchange Scotland is not a business. We are not run by shareholders, but by an Executive Committee of volunteers. The Project Contribution you give us goes entirely to the running and development of the organisation - not into someone else’s pocket.
Xchange Scotland is part of 2 main networks - CCIVS (part of UNESCO) and the Alliance. These networks have a history going back many decades - CCIVS goes back to the 1920s. Over those many years, partner organisations have joined by meeting the requirements imposed by those networks. Those involved in the networks meet twice-yearly to discuss and evaluate projects and partner organisations. If there are any queries about partner organisations raised at these gatherings (or any other time in between) then these are investigated.
If a partner organisation is not operating within the rules or ethos of the networks then they lose their place.The years of cumulative experience within the networks and the partner organisations they are made up of means that we are confident when placing volunteers overseas. Of course, each country and organisation operates slightly differently - as you would expect - and we ask volunteers to bear in mind these different cultural conditions when they are choosing their project. To continue to uphold the high standard of projects we always ask volunteers to fill in an evaluation form when they have finished their project and to keep us up-to-date about all elements of their time away.