What's involved?

Being part of a volunteering project means being part of a team for several months.  There's a lot involved beforehand, the trip itself and a little bit afterwards. We reckon that you'll need to devote an average of four hours a week (although it won't be spread out evenly) from the time you're accepted to the time you depart. While you're away the days can be really long (but rewarding!) and then if you can help us out when you come back, you'll make our day! To give you an idea of what to expect, here's an example:

  • September - November - Complete application form dependent on the project country deadline.
  • November/December  - Attend a selection event
  • December onwards - Complete all paper work and pay deposit
  • January - Come to a compulsory volunteer briefing
  • February - May - Compulsory team meeting (roughly every fortnight) fundraising, team socials, specific project preparation e.g. preparing teaching materials, organising jabs, getting insurance, pre-departure shopping (don't worry we'll remind you about all of this).
  • June-September - Volunteer abroad, working really hard but having a great time!
  • After the trip - Help with evaluation, volunteer reunion, helping out at various volunteering events (e.g. stalls, talks to other potential volunteers, next year's team briefings).

Who can apply?

• Most current Leeds Beckett Students and recent graduates. Unfortunately students on evening classes are not eligible

• Leeds Beckett staff who are on a contract. Unfortunately JobShop staff are not eligible

• All students will need to gain permission from their personal tutor to participate and members of staff will need permission from their line manager.

if unsure, please contact us.

Can I apply for more than one project at a time?

Yes, you will be asked on your application form whether you are applying for any other projects. You will need to apply for each trip separately and complete the relevant form. Please remember that different skills and experience will be required for each volunteering opportunity so you will need to tailor your application to the opportunity you are applying for. There is no limit to how many projects you can apply for or participate in but we may need to give priority to volunteers who have not been before and repeat volunteers won't be subsidised by the University. 

How many trips can I go on during my time at Leeds Beckett?

In theory you can join several projects during your time at the University but there are a few things to bear in mind. During the selection process priority may be given to first time volunteers and the university can't subsidise repeat volunteers, so you will need to pay full price for any additional projects.

What if I can't decide which trip to go on?

If you can't decide which trip is best for you talk to us as soon as possible! It's a difficult situation because you are not guaranteed a place on the trip of your choice and the recruitment for each trip happens at a different time. The best thing is to come to a drop-in session so that you can discuss your options or if that's not possible, contact us.

How do I apply?

We recruit for each project separately. When we are ready to recruit we will put application forms and guidance notes for applying on to My Hub. We will notify everyone on Facebook, Twitter as well as putting adverts on My Beckett, My Hub and the classifieds section of the staff email. To receive alerts about when we're recruiting for each project join our Facebook page. Once the deadline for the application forms has passed, we'll make a shortlist of volunteers to go onto the next stage. Applicants will be invited to a short interview or selection day where prospective volunteers are given group tasks and activities to do. We'll let volunteers know a few days later whether they have been successful or not.

What if my application isn't successful?

If you submit an application form and are not shortlisted, we'll let you know by email. If you are turned down at interview or selection-day stage, we'll keep you on a waiting list in case anyone drops out. In both cases you are also very welcome to apply for other projects.

What happens if I get accepted then change my mind?

Try and find out as much as you can before you apply so that you are certain you want to go at that stage. If you are successful in the interview we'll give you a short period of one or two weeks to get the paperwork back to us and to pay your deposit. If you change you mind during this time there shouldn't be a problem although, the sooner we know, the better so we can offer the place to someone else. We will not book your ticket until we have your paperwork and your deposit. If you change you mind after this you will lose the money you have paid up until that point. It's always best to speak to us if you have any concerns at any point. This way, we can help you to make decisions before you lose any money.

How much does it cost and what's included?

The price for each project is different. Usually we add up the cost of flights, visa, transfers, accommodation, team hoodies and t-shirts and sometimes food and local transport. Most volunteers are eligible for part-funding from Leeds Beckett. This is why we can't give an exact price until nearer the time although we do our best to give a good guestimate. You'll find a list of what is and isn't included in the additional information about each project.

The following things are definitely NOT included:  

  • spending money
  • cost of any vaccinations that may be required
  • cost of any independent travel

Sometimes it works out better if volunteers pay for their own food or local transport but we'll always let you know well in advance what is included in your project.

How do I pay?

The cost will be split into three or four payments, a deposit of £150 and then two or three further payments. Details will differ slightly from project to project but you'll find all the info you need to know in the downloadable information for each project.Volunteers can pay over the phone, at the university cash office or on line using the online store.

What if I can't afford it?

We can help you with ideas for fundraising including sponsored events, asking businesses for donations and other fundraising ideas like cake sales etc. All first time volunteers will be eligible for a £200 bursary from Leeds Beckett. Unfortunately the university is extremely unlikely to be able to give volunteers any more money towards the cost of the trip.

What if I owe the University money?

We will work with you and the University student finance team to arrange a payment plan to ensure you are able to pay the University. We will treat each case as an individual, if this applies to you please get in contact.

Can I fundraise to help pay for my trip?

Yes, of course you can. We just ask you to make it clear that you are fundraising for your costs rather than for the charity.

Can I fundraise for the charity I'm going to?

YES! In fact fundraising is a requirement to being accepted on the project: you'll find details of the minimum fundraising target for each project in the additional information. It's a great way to get to know your fellow volunteers and lots of our previous volunteers have had great success fundraising and some have continued their fundraising after they return (after being so inspired by the work of the organisation). Once accepted onto a project, we'll give you ideas for your fundraising and encourage you to work as a group to organise larger fundraising activities. Don't forget, volunteering and fundraising look wonderful on your CV!

What fundraising support will I receive?

Once you're signed up for a trip, the staff in the volunteering office and your team leader will help you with ideas for fundraising. Mostly we encourage volunteers to organise their own fundraising or to work with the rest of their team to fundraise but for some group activities we'll do the organising and you'll just need to turn up and help out. You can always ask us for help and ideas and we'll do our best to support.

Will we get to do any sightseeing?

It depends. We usually try to incorporate some time for sightseeing and cultural activities into each trip but for some it may not be possible. On some of the trips volunteers have the option to return home a bit later and squeeze in some independent travel.

How much free time will there be?

This depends on the nature of the volunteer work and where the project is based. Volunteering can be really hard work so we try to allow some free time to unwind and relax. We also try to incorporate some sightseeing and other cultural activities into the programme. It is important to point out that on some projects there may be limited things to do with your free time and there may also be restrictions on where volunteers are allowed to go in their free time. For example, due to their surroundings, the charities we work with in Ahmednagar, India do not consider it safe for volunteers to venture out of their grounds on their own.

Is it really hard work?

Yes it can be!!! Each trip is different. For some, the days are long and might be mentally tiring (like teaching large classes), for others the work is more physically demanding, sometimes the conditions (like the temperature) make it hard work. For most of the trips there will be some degree of culture shock and in most cases volunteer work starts after a long journey! So yes expect hard work - it certainly won't a holiday and there is quite a lot to do in the months leading up to departure but we're sure you'll rise to the challenge!!

Do I need to get travel insurance?

We can put you forward to be covered by our University’s comprehensive travel insurance policy. This free policy will cover you in the event of any medical problems, lost baggage, lost passport, flight cancellations and many other incidents. We are able to extend this cover if you stay on for a holiday in the same country so long as the holiday period is no longer than the volunteer trip period and up to a maximum of 4 weeks. If longer, you must arrange your own cover for the holiday period. University Insurance will email you a form to apply for the free cover and send the insurance documents and travel security website access when received. Please note that there are limitations of claims for personal possession losses/ failure and we advise you not to take expensive items with you or items that are irreplaceable. If you are successful the insurance team will be in contact directly to request your details.

Can I have a team hoodie or t-shirt?

Yes, they are included in the cost. Usually one hoodie and two t-shirts will be included although this might change slightly for each trip.

How much time do I need to commit before I go?

A lot! Participating in one of our volunteering projects is as much about the activities before you go as it is about the time you spend abroad. There will also be things to do when you return. For full information about this look at the "before you go" section of the website, but to give you an overview you will need to attend a series of compulsory meetings (possibly five or six) which may be in the evenings or weekends, there may also be training or preparation activities that you need to do complete relating to your to your volunteer role and there will definitely be fundraising activities to join in and probably a few socials too. All of these extra activities are just as important as the trip itself, both in terms of preparing you for the experience and for your personal development generally. You should allow an average of at least four hours a week.

Can I do some independent travel after the volunteering part?

Yes. For most of the trips there will be the option of a later return date so that you can travel after your volunteering. Please note that if you opt for a later return, you must plan and fund that extra time yourself. On some of the trips, extra travel is not an option especially where it involves missing term time.

What support will I receive when I'm out there?

On most of the trips there will be a designated team leader from Leeds Beckett. This person is also a volunteer but they have extra responsibilities. They help to plan the trip and will probably have been before. You'll have the chance to get to know them as there will be plenty that you'll need to do together before you go. In addition staff at the organisation you'll be volunteering at will be there to support you. Sometimes, volunteers who have been before will take on a supervisory role too, we call them "big brothers" or "big sisters" and they'll be a good source of support if you need it. And finally, at least one person from the team back in the office in Leeds will be on call 24/7 should you (or your next of kin) need to contact us in an emergency.

What training will I receive?

There will be several compulsory meetings and possibly a team building day (probably on a weekend) where you can get to know your team and team leader. This will also include a team briefing with information about your host organisation and practicalities e.g. what to take. For some projects there may be some specific training provided such as lhow to teach English. You'll find more details on the downloadable documents for each project.

How will this project increase my employability?

It's all about employability,  well, not totally but a lot of what's involved is excellent for your personal development and can seriously enhance your employability skills. For example, the application process, broadening your horizons, learning about communication with people from all walks of life, team work, resilience, learning specific new skills and practicing existing ones are all things that will add to your being more employable. There'll be a workshop for all teams on this and how to recognise and draw on your experiences. What's more, past volunteers have found that as well as being an eye-opener in general, their voluntary work has given them new ideas about career direction.

Do I need a Disclosure & Barrings check?

For the projects involving work with children or vulnerable adults you will need a Disclosure & Barring Service check to provide details if you have a criminal record. If you do have a criminal record, it won't necessarily prevent you from volunteering it depends on the nature of the offence. You need to declare on your application form if you have any criminal convictions, this way we can discuss it with you (confidentially of course) and give you an idea of whether it will prevent you from volunteering. If in doubt, just ask us.

What if I have a criminal record?

If you do have a criminal record, it won't necessarily prevent you from volunteering it depends on the nature of the offence. You need to declare on your application form if you any criminal convictions so we can discuss it with you (confidentially of course) and give you an idea of whether it will prevent you from volunteering. If in doubt, just ask us.

Isn't air travel bad for the environment?

Yes, it's one of the most polluting forms of travel! We do recognise the fact that despite all the good volunteering work, the travel done by our volunteers is bad for the environment. For this reason we ask volunteers to try and reduce their "carbon footprint" and to get their friends to as well!

Tell me more about special volunteer roles

The overall project coordination is carried out by the project manager who is usually someone from the volunteering team. In addition there are several special volunteer roles.

  • Team leader: this is a member of staff from Leeds Beckett who works with the project manager to organise the trip and who helps to select the rest of the team. The team leader then plays a massive part in preparing the team for going away, fundraising and making sure things run smoothly during the trip.
  • Big brother/big sister: this is usually someone who has been on the project before. They are there to support the team leader on projects where we feel it's necessary. This could be because the teams in split into groups who aren't based near each other or perhaps because it's a very large group. Big brothers and sisters are usually recruited before the main team are recruited so that they can help with planning, selection and anything else they would like to.
  • Social coordinator: bonding with rest of the team is crucial so this is an important role for a volunteer with good communication skills. Whether it's meeting for coffee or going to a big night out, we want to the team to spend as much time getting to know each other as possible. The social coordinator will organise a variety of activities for the team.
  • Fundraising coordinator: this role is ideal for someone who is confident at group fundraising activities and can encourage the rest of the group to get fundraising by researching and sharing ideas. Again it needs to be someone with good communication skills who can also liaise closely with us to keep us informed of the team's progress.
  • Pay it forward coordinator: sounds strange doesn't it? When volunteers come back they are full of enthusiasm, ideas and tips and we like to harness this to "pay it forward" to future teams and prospective volunteers. Returning volunteers often help us by collecting photos, writing profiles, doing talks, coming to team briefings and generally being wonderful and the pay it forward coordinator helps us by encouraging the rest of the team to get involved in this way.

What qualities are you looking for in volunteers?

The key quality has to be resilience but click here for more about the top ten qualities that make for an excellent volunteer and and excellent volunteering experience.