What to expect on a volunteering holiday and how to prepare

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    No matter your interest, there is likely a volunteering holiday for you. From a few days to a few months, from the UK to much further afield, there are opportunities for skilled volunteers and novices alike. Below are some examples of what to expect with volunteering organisations that could take you both near and far to help communities in need.

    National Trust Working Holidays
    For a holiday that helps causes close to home, why not work with the National Trust? The organisation offers short breaks, family holidays, and longer opportunities for helping out in beautiful locations all over the United Kingdom.

    You can sign up for traditional coppicing in woodland in Pembrokeshire; hedge-laying in Dorset; wildlife conservation on Brownsea Island; gardening in Cumbria and moorland conservation in Derbyshire, among many other options. For up to a week, and for the cost of a few hundred pounds, you can have an enjoyable and productive time away protecting the stunning diversity and nature of Great Britain. Accommodation and any training needed is provided.

    If you are concerned about the physical activity and your health, National Trust grades each opportunity with a “Physicality” level to help you decide what is right for you.

    Find out more about National Trust’s working holidays

    Projects Abroad Volunteering Trip
    Projects Abroad is an organisation that offers volunteering opportunities across the world for volunteers of all experience levels. Focusing on long-term, sustainable solutions for real-world problems, the organisation offers experiences that make a difference.

    You could work with animals as part of conservation efforts; help encourage early childhood development skills in children; construct necessary infrastructure or take part in archaeological digs. There is a cost involved in participation.

    You can volunteer with flexible dates or go with others. The organisation offers “Grown-Up Specials” trips for those over the age of 50, giving you the chance to work alongside people with more life experience. There are also plenty of opportunities for younger helpers to get involved, or for families to volunteer together.

    Find out more about volunteering abroad during your retirement with Projects Abroad

    Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)
    VSO is a well-known organisation offering vital assistance to communities in need. Professionals of any age can volunteer in Africa and Asia if they have three years’ experience in their field, have a degree or equivalent education, are physically fit, and pass security checks. The opportunities VSO offers are longer-term commitments for those who have more time to spare.

    You could assist with communications in the Philippines; offer life skill advice in Tanzania; be a teacher educator in Myanmar; or be a midwife in various countries. Your skills could make a significant difference to an individual’s life or change an entire community for the better.

    The organisation offers training and support, a basic living allowance, accommodation and medical cover, as well as extras such as work visas, required immunisations and more if necessary.

    Find out more about what it takes to volunteer with VSO

    What should I look out for when organising a volunteering holiday?
    When organising a volunteering trip, you should check to make sure the opportunity is right for you. Before you book a volunteering holiday you should:

    1. Research the company
      It is sensible to make sure the company you’re planning to volunteer with is reputable and aligns with your particular values. Volunteering organisations are often aligned to funding and political organisations which are worth considering when making your decision.
    2. Check what conditions will be like
      If you have any particular health needs or conditions you should consult the organisation before booking your trip to make sure you will have everything you need. Some opportunities are in remote locations or have more challenging environments; it is a good idea to make sure that it will be suitable for you.
    3. Get a health check-up
      Some organisations will require you to complete a health check-up with your GP before being permitted to volunteer, although this is less likely for opportunities closer to home. You might be required to have particular vaccines for opportunities that are higher risk you’re your health. Regardless of your trip type, just to be sure that your health won’t be impacted by any strenuous activity, it might be a good idea to get a health check-up before your trip.
    4. Figure out the total cost of your trip
      Though most volunteering trips have accommodation included, there may be additional costs for your excursion that you might need to consider. These might include airfares or living costs. It is sensible to check if there are any additional costs, other than the advertised fee.

    Find out more about safety tips and volunteer organisations with Saga

    How will I make a difference?
    Your participation in a volunteering holiday could change someone’s life for the better. By giving up your time and providing your skills to a worth cause, you can make an active difference in communities, families and lives.

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