FAQS

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Here are our FAQs with lots of information to help you on your way to volunteering!

We have organised our FAQs into sections below. If you can’t find the information you are looking for, please contact us and we will be very happy to help.

Please see our COVID-19 policy to see the measures we have introduced and what would happen if your trip was affected by Coronavirus so that you can book with confidence. 

BOOKING AND REQUIREMENTS 

How do I book a project?

Once you know which project you would like to do and have had a look at the durations and start dates, the next step is to complete our booking form. We will then be in touch to confirm everything and let you know how to pay the £200 GBP deposit to book your place, which comes off your total volunteering fee.

If you have any questions or would like some guidance finding the right project for you please contact us and we will be delighted to help!

How can I hear from past volunteers?

You can see past volunteers reviews on our Project Pages, Reviews page and on our Facebook page.

Do I need any specific skills or experience?

For most of our projects no specific skills are required, just energy, enthusiasm and a willingness to get involved as full training will be given when you arrive. If there is any specific previous experience needed it will be listed on the individual project pages.

When should I book?

We recommend booking as early as possible as our projects are popular and availability can change at short notice. We are able to accept bookings up to 2 years in advance. In general it’s good if you can book at least 1 month before your preferred start date.

Can you accept last minute applications?

Yes! As long as there is availability and enough time to make travel plans. In general it’s helpful to book at least 1 month in advance.

Can I join more than one project?

Yes, you can combine any of our projects to make an amazing volunteering trip of a lifetime! 

Can I use my volunteering placement for my DofE Gold Residential Award? 

Yes, many of our volunteering placements can be used for this award, please see our DofE page for more details.

Can I use my volunteering placement towards my University or College credits or placement hours or as part of my internship? 

Let us know and we can check the requirements and assist with any forms required.

I am from outside of the UK, can I volunteer?

Yes, we are a UK based organisation and we are very pleased to accept applications from all over the world. We receive many non-UK volunteers, in particular from Europe, USA and Canada. 

I am a solo traveller, can I volunteer?

Yes, most of our volunteers are solo travellers and we welcome them on to all our volunteer projects. It’s a great way to join a team of like-minded people and volunteer together.

Can I volunteer with a friend or partner?

Yes, we welcome friends and partners on to all our volunteer projects and it can be an amazing way to share the experience!

Can my partner or friend and I share a room?

For most projects it is possible to share a room with a partner or friend. Just let us know when you book. 

Can I book a single room? 

Some of our projects have single rooms available or that can be requested, you can see the accommodation options on each of our project pages.  

Can I volunteer with my family or children?

Yes, we have a number of volunteer projects that can accept families so please see our family volunteering page.

Is there a lower or upper age limit for volunteers?

For solo travellers the lower age limit is usually either 17 or 18 - please check individual project pages on our website for more information. For families, we can accept younger children. For most of our projects there is no maximum age limit as long as you are in reasonable health for the project. We highly value mature volunteers and the experience they bring.

We receive a wide mix of volunteer ages and backgrounds and we find that this adds to the volunteering experience.

About 35% of our volunteers are 17 - 25 years old, the remaining 65% spread from 26 - 80 years old. You can find out about our under 18 volunteer projects here.

Can I book as part of a group?

Yes, on most of our projects we are able to accept groups of volunteers. We are also able to offer bespoke tailored group volunteering trips. For more information please see our Groups page.

I have special dietary requirements – will they be catered for? 

All of our projects are able to cater for vegetarian diets and most are able to cater for vegan diets. Please let us know when you book if you have any food requirements or allergies and we’ll let you know if these are possible. 

Are Pod Volunteer projects suitable for LGBTQ+ travellers?

Pod Volunteer welcomes LGBTQ+ travellers on all of our volunteer projects, but we are conscious that attitudes around the world towards LGBTQ+ travellers vary significantly. We provide advice and guidance for our LGBTQ+ volunteers here

Can I book if I have medical issues?

Pod Volunteer can often accept volunteers with medical conditions but it is important that you are in good physical and mental health for an overseas volunteer placement. Our projects are generally in challenging environments with limited local medical facilities so you should carefully consider the implications of travelling and volunteering overseas on your health. Please click here to read our medical policy.

Do I need a Criminal Records Check?

For our community projects, you will need a criminal records check. We will assist you in applying for your DBS in the UK, or equivalent from other countries.

Can I volunteer if I have a criminal record?

Pod Volunteer undertakes to treat all applicants fairly and not to discriminate unfairly against any subject of a criminal record check on the basis of a conviction or other information revealed. Please click here to read our recruitment of ex-offenders policy.

Can I get a certificate or a reference from Pod Volunteer after I have completed my placement? 

Yes, we are very happy to provide these for our volunteers.

SAFETY AND SUPPORT

What support will I receive?

All our projects have local support staff who are there to support you throughout your time and help you make the most of your volunteering.

As well as the local team at the project, you will have the continued support of the Pod Volunteer UK team. We visit our placements regularly and are available to support you whilst you are away.

We pride ourselves on providing a strong support structure for volunteers.

What health and safety standards do you follow to keep volunteers safe?

Pod Volunteer takes the health and safety of our customers, our staff and local people seriously. We have a staged approach to managing the risks and health and safety implications that may be encountered in our locations and placements which is set out in our health and safety policy. We use BS 8848 (the British Standard for organising and managing visits, fieldwork, expeditions, and adventurous activities outside the UK) as the foundation for our operational procedures.

Will I receive detailed information about the placement?

Yes, as soon as you have sent your booking form you will receive a Volunteering Guide covering all the planning and preparations needed for your trip. We give you all the information up front to help you decide if it’s the right project for you.

Will I receive any training for the volunteer placement?

You will receive an induction and any project specific training during your first few days at your volunteer placement.

Is there someone I can contact 24/7?

Yes, there are local staff at the projects who are contactable if there is a problem, as well as ongoing support from the dedicated team in the Pod Volunteer office. You will be given a Travel Document which includes contact details so you can reach us 24/7.

COSTS AND PAYMENT

How much will it cost and what is included?

There are two elements to the cost. The first is our project fee which is stated on each of our project pages. The second is the other costs you will incur, such as flights and visas. 

Pod Volunteer is run on a non-profit basis so fee levels are set to match costs and we keep these as low as we can to ensure that the opportunities we offer are available to as many people as possible.

Where does the placement fee go?

Fee levels are set to match costs (on a non-profit basis) and any surplus monies are distributed to the overseas organisations and charities we work with via the Pod Charity. For a breakdown of our costs and more details please see our Where The Money Goes page.

Why do I pay to be a volunteer?

The organisations we work with do not have any budget to cover volunteer costs and are often struggling to fund their work, so it is very important that the cost of supporting volunteers is covered and doesn’t jeopardise their sustainability or limit their ability to carry out their charitable aims.

Pod Volunteer’s only source of income is volunteer fees so without charging a fee we would not be able to exist in order to support the projects we work with.

We charge a fee to volunteers for all our placements in order to cover the overseas costs of volunteering and the costs of running our organisation in the UK. We keep our costs to a minimum but want to ensure we meet or exceed the standards that are required of us as a leading UK based volunteering organisation.

Are there any discounts available?

We are able to give a discount if you have volunteered with us before or are in a group or family with children.

Can I fundraise towards the costs of my placement?

Yes, we encourage volunteers to fundraise towards their costs if they would like to. 

When do I have to pay a deposit and when is the final payment due?

We ask for a deposit to secure your place. The deposit is £200 per project per person and comes off the price of the project (it is not an additional payment).
The balance of payment is required 8 weeks before your project start date.

Is my money safe and protected?

Yes, Pod Volunteer is a member of The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT) which provides full financial protection for the money you have paid.

Can I claim back my tax on placement costs?

USA: Unfortunately US volunteers are not eligible to reclaim their contributions or out of pocket expenses since Pod Volunteer is not a qualified organisation for this purpose as it is defined as a “foreign organization” on the US IRS guidance Publication 526.

Canada: Unfortunately Canadian volunteers are not eligible to reclaim their contributions or out of pocket expenses because Pod Volunteer is not a “qualified donee” since we not a registered charity in Canada.

PLANNING YOUR TRAVEL AND VOLUNTEERING

How do I arrange flights?

Once your placement has been confirmed you can book your flights. We provide guidance for your flight requirements within our Volunteering Guide. 

We recommend booking through a travel agent and to check that they have scheduled airline failure insurance (SAFI). If you choose to book directly with an airline then we would recommend paying by credit card for added financial protection.

Will someone meet me at the airport? 

At most of our projects, we will arrange for a project representative / transfer company to meet you at the airport and take you to your project. You can see more details on the location tab of each project page. 

Do I need travel insurance?

Travel insurance is essential to ensure you are covered for any emergencies during your trip and Pod requires that you have suitable travel insurance.

Do I need a visa?

Depending on the country, project and duration you will be travelling for, you may require a tourist or volunteering visa. We will send you a Volunteering Guide which provides full details of the visa requirements and how to apply for a visa if needed.

Do I need any immunisations or anti-malarial medication?

You may require some immunisations and for some locations malaria medication is also required. We will send you a volunteering guide which provides full details of the requirements.

You should arrange a visit to your doctor to receive the latest health advice and arrange immunisations. Make sure you inform your doctor that you will be volunteering and tell them the nature of your project work so they can advise you accordingly.

What accommodation is provided?

All of our placements include volunteer accommodation. Please see the individual project website pages for more details of accommodation and living arrangements.

We always aim to provide safe, clean and comfortable accommodation, but it cannot generally be compared to the standard of accommodation on holiday trips.

What should I bring with me?

You will be sent a Volunteering Guide which includes a full packing list for your chosen project. 

Can I travel before or after the placement?

Yes, this is a great way to see the country and we can help with suggestions of places to visit and things to do! 

Should I learn the language before I go?

Project support staff will communicate with you in English. For most of our projects, there is no requirement to speak any local languages although it is always a good thing to make some effort to learn the local language and the people you meet and work with will be very appreciative of your efforts.

POD VOLUNTEER

What is Pod Volunteer?

Pod Volunteer is an award winning non-profit organisation arranging ethical, inspiring and supported volunteering opportunities around the world since 2001.

How do you protect the people, animals and environments at the projects you work with?

We work in many locations with vulnerable environments and sensitive communities. Our care for these places is the driving force behind us arranging placements for volunteers. For this reason we are extremely dedicated to ensuring that our impact is always positive and never damaging. Please see our Responsible Travel page for how we manage this.  

How do you select and monitor your projects?

We have a careful and independent selection process, ensuring that we only work with sustainable, long term projects that we know personally and where there is a lasting, positive impact on the local communities. 

We ensure that every project we work with has a genuine role and strong support network for our volunteers. A member of the UK team visits all projects on a regular basis. 

Does Pod Volunteer have any current job opportunities?

Please see our Jobs page for details of any current vacancies for roles in the UK office or overseas.

POD CHARITY

What is the Pod Charity?

Since 2002, Pod Volunteer has been providing volunteers to help at charitable projects around the world. The Pod Charity builds on this success by also providing financial assistance.

The projects we support are usually struggling to finance the charitable work they are doing so every penny makes a real difference. 

The Pod Charity was established in 2010 as a grant making body to support overseas projects and has already raised over £160,000!

How can I donate to or fundraise for the Pod Charity?

For all the details including how to fundraise and donate please see the Pod Charity page.

AWARDS AND ACCREDITATIONS