FAQS from Parents & Guardians

If after reading through the frequently asked questions below, you are still unsure about any aspect of the Project Trust Volunteering Programme, please email the office or give us a call on 01879 230444. Alternatively, you can complete the Callback Request Form and we will contact you at a time convenient for yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

Project Trust is an innovative youth development and education charity providing long-term overseas volunteering placements for 17 – 19 year olds.

From our base on the Hebridean Isle of Coll, we select 300 young people from across the UK for long-term voluntary teaching and social care projects in Africa, Asia and the Americas every year.

Since 1967 we have provided nearly 7,000 young people with a unique international volunteering experience, which allows them to both develop a wide range of essential transferable skills, and gain valuable work experience.

We provide all volunteers with extensive training and support before, during and after their time overseas, to maximise both the educational value of their experience and impact they have in their projects.

Our returned volunteers now receive a One Awards level 3 qualification in ‘Global Volunteering and Citizenship’ – formal recognition of their learning, commitment and dedication.

During Selection on the Isle of Coll, candidates learn about the countries and projects where Project Trust operates, and we learn about the candidates’ skills and interests. At the end of the course, candidates choose the countries which interest them most and we then try and match them to one of our overseas projects. We offer volunteering placements to around 80% of Selection candidates.
In January we provide volunteers with a list of recommended inoculations which comes from our medical advisors, InterHealth. The final placement information sent to volunteers in May has details of everything your son or daughter needs to do before training. They will get more information on training and there will be plenty of time to complete courses of injections before flights.
We ask all parents to complete a form indicating the kind of financial support they can offer. If a volunteer is struggling with fundraising and parents are unable to help we need to know as soon as possible so we can offer the appropriate support. We have a small amount of funding available for bursaries and we are very keen to let every committed volunteer go abroad, but we are not able to subsidise everybody’s fundraising. If we know there are problems we can work with the volunteer so they do raise the full amount.
Project Trust reviews our volunteer policy every year and some of the details in the policy may change from year to year, e.g. excess amount. Volunteers are covered from the day they leave the country to the day they return unless they leave Project Trust throughout the year, and then the policy cover will become void. Volunteers will have a session on insurance when they come up on training, this will cover what to do in an emergency and what the policy covers. The volunteers will also be given an Insurance guide and an emergency medical card to carry with them to use in emergencies.
Encourage self-reliance. Show them how to clean toilets and how to use bleach. Practise hand-washing and ironing shirts and how to cook with basic ingredients. Next year they will be making all their own decisions so let them make a few mistakes now while you can still help.
Volunteers on 12 month placements depart in August, whilst volunteers on the eight month programme depart in January. Volunteer air travel to their project country usually departs from London. Volunteers return in August.
Project Trust always sends volunteers out in pairs. Project Trust works hard to try and partner volunteers with someone with similar interests and complimentary characteristics and skills. Volunteers meet their partner, and the rest of the volunteers going to the same country as them, when they come back to Coll for Training. The number of Project Trust volunteers in one country varies enormously from two – 30 volunteers.
As in any situation where two people work and live together compromises will need to be made, and there will be times where they need time to themselves or frustrations may arise: this is part of the learning experience volunteers go through. Many volunteers do become close friends through the year, whilst others aren’t particularly close but still have very successful volunteering placements. Volunteers will spend time with more people than just their partners whilst overseas: they will make local friends and meet up with other Project Trust volunteers in their country.

Project Trust provides volunteers overseas with a three tier support network: 1. Desk Officer, 2. In-country Representative, 3. Host within each project.

The Desk Officer, based on Coll, is the principal member of staff looking after your son or daughter. They are always pleased to talk to volunteers and parents if there are issues and queries to discuss. Desk Officers contact the volunteers via email during the year supervising them overseas. Many are returned volunteers themselves: the similar experiences they share help forge a good working rapport with the volunteers. Each volunteer will receive a visit at the project from their Desk Officer during their year overseas.

The Representatives offer support in country. All have full time jobs but give up their time to look after the volunteers in their country. They are dedicated and willing people, who believe in Project Trust’s ethos. They are typically a well-connected resident with in-depth local knowledge who works in partnership with the Desk Officer They are available to help sort out any major problems the volunteers have in-country.

The Host is in charge of the project where the volunteers are based, managing them throughout the year. They are normally the first port of call for volunteers.

Each project host will sort out your accommodation for you, and this will differ from project to project. Volunteers may have their own flat with their partner, live in school accommodation, in an orphanage or occasionally with a local family.
Project Trust does not encourage parents, friends or relatives to visit volunteers too early in the year. After Easter is normally advised, as the volunteers are fully settled in their project and there isn’t too long until they return home. These visits can be very emotional, especially when the time comes to say goodbye. We suggest no plans for visits are made before volunteer leaves the UK, a decision is made once they are settled into their project.
Some projects will have constant mobile phone access and internet, whilst in many places volunteers will need to travel and spend time in an internet café to get in touch. We suggest volunteers get a cheap phone and local SIM card. When they first arrive you may hear from them frequently but as they settle in their calls and emails will diminish; generally the less you hear the happier they are.
Unless it is due to a family emergency or due to health issues, we expect volunteers to spend the full year overseas. Volunteers have a defined role within their projects. As such they are depended upon and must take responsibility for fulfilling that role.
The amount volunteers receive depends upon the cost of living in the host country, and in some cases what the host government pays its local staff. In some countries, Project Trust pays all or part of this sum. In general, Project Trust tries to ensure that all volunteers in one country have a similar amount of pocket money. Pocket money is usually paid from the date of your arrival until your departure, including holidays, at the end of the month, in arrears. This money is a basic wage and will cover transport and maybe a treat at the weekend. It will not fund an extravagant lifestyle or maintain the same living standards as the UK.
We would want to be sure this was a genuine problem, rather than just home-sickness/culture-shock, which are big issues but require a different approach. We would encourage dialogue to explore the problems and see if a solution can be reached. If this is not possible we would transfer the volunteer within the country, but we don’t have an endless choice of projects so compromises would have to be made. All projects are checked every year and we listen carefully to the information given by the previous year’s volunteers.
Volunteers are advised during the Selection week to take around £1,000 overseas in addition to the amount they have fundraised. This will cover travel during holidays, visa runs that may have to be completed and any optional purchases or expenditure the volunteers may wish to make.
Volunteers in schools will get the same holidays as their students. Volunteers in social care projects will have to make arrangements with their hosts, but all volunteers should have time off over Christmas and in the summer to go travelling.

Structured volunteering placements, where young people take on a high responsible role, are highly regarded by universities as they demonstrate personal qualities not reflected through academic ability alone.

Project Trust’s 2013/14 volunteers were the first to receive the One Awards level 3 qualification in global volunteering and citizenship. A number of the 2013/14 volunteers were offered university places conditional on them completing the One Awards qualification. The qualification also received an endorsement from Mary Curnock-Cook, the Chief Executive of UCAS.

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