Charity Urges Prospective Volunteers To “Think Twice” before opting for Voluntourism
(TRAVPR.COM)UK - July 16th, 2012 - Lattitude Global Volunteering will is celebrating 40 years of sending young people on meaningful, long-term placements in 2012. To mark this milestone, the charity has launched its ‘Campaign For Real Volunteering’.
Lattitude Global Volunteering has been around since the birth of the gap year industry; in fact the term ‘gap year’ came from its original name (GAP Activity Projects). The charity has become quite disheartened at how the positive concept of the gap year has now been overshadowed by the profiteering of tourism companies who have moved into the industry, so is vowing to fight back with real and meaningful overseas volunteer placements.
Nick Adie, UK marketing manager says: “Over the years many new organisations have begun offering voluntary placements overseas, from small companies to tourism giants. However, with this expansion there seems to be a drift from worthwhile and selfless volunteer placements to short term placements more concerned with what ‘fits in’ to a gap year, around travel or tourism plans.
“The dumbing down of placements and quick turnaround of volunteers is diluting the perceived benefits to the extent where gap years are quite uniformly criticised and mocked. Even more worrying is the seeming lack of responsibility towards the host communities that are supposedly benefitting from volunteer help. In many cases these short term placements can actually create a great deal more harm than good.”
The advice given by Lattitude Global Volunteering is to avoid these so called ‘voluntourism’ activities and think about the reason to volunteer in the first place. The charity states that there is nothing wrong with travelling, and many volunteers do travel after a long-term placement, but they do it with better knowledge and understanding of a different culture and people, greater confidence and better understanding.
Volunteering overseas is undoubtedly a fantastic thing. It offers young people the opportunity to experience a different life, to develop in skills and confidence and enjoy the world. All the while making a real and valid contribution to a host community. But only when it is done properly.
Lattitude Global Volunteering now has a specific area of its website dedicated solely to the campaign with hints and tips to help prospective volunteers navigate the gap year volunteering industry and help them choose an organisation that can provide a volunteering experience that is worthwhile as well as help with weighing up the costs to get the best value for your money and the chance for personal development.
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