Faversham, United Kingdom (PressExposure) December 09, 2009 -- Why should I believe you? Prove it!
This is the question award winning volunteer recruitment organisation people and places wants potential volunteers to ask.
The people and places team are an odd lot. They actively encourage their volunteers to comment, question and criticise â and then share that criticism with future volunteers!
They keep as little of the volunteersâ money as possible, also telling volunteers upfront how much that will be!
And now theyâve done something else thatâs pretty radical â theyâve invited an independent auditor to come and check out their claims.
âThe main reason we started people and places was that we knew volunteering should be a win-win situation, for communities and volunteers alike â and we wanted to prove that it could be. Weâve been surprised, and were somewhat naive perhaps, to see how some organisations have adopted the current buzz words of âresponsibleâ âsustainableâ and âcommunity-drivenâ to create a smoke and mirrors effect, confusing potential volunteers. And the sleight of hand used by many organisations when explaining where funds are used often takes our breath away.
So now we want potential volunteers to say âPROVE ITâ,â says Sallie Grayson, programme director.
People and places has undergone an independent audit of the claims they make in their responsible travel policy â here are just a few examples: â¢ 80% or more of volunteersâ monies reaching host countries â confirmed â¢ volunteers know where and how their money is spent - confirmed â¢ all volunteers are screened - confirmed â¢ matching skills to need - confirmed â¢ comprehensive preparation - confirmed â¢ local projects run by local people - confirmed
Undertaken by The Responsible Tourism Partnership â â this audit is a good workable alternative to a code of practise. The biggest problem with a code of practice is policing â who polices it and how? And whereâs the encouragement for organisations to continue to improve?
Only claims the organisation makes for itself are audited â so: You say you conserve thousands of litres of water a month - prove it. You say you only employ local people - prove it. You say 30% of monies are used on project development - prove it.
People and places, the first organisation to undergo this audit, hopes there will be many other organisations following itâs example.
âWe will most assuredly be using the audit to strengthen our work in the next twelve months. We know that other organisations are already undergoing the same process. This is not about proving you are perfect in every way â itâs about proving that youâre doing what you say youâll do. These are your promises â no-one elseâs,â says Grayson.
The campaigning work of people and places was recently recognised by The Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards, when they won Best Volunteering Organisation for 2009.
âPeople and places has exercised leadership in a sector bedeviled by poor practice and established a replicable business model. Committed to reporting transparently on the money that volunteers pay, they ensure that the volunteers meet their full costs and are not a burden on the community; and carefully match the skills of volunteers to the needs of that community without replacing local labour. They have taken the ground breaking step of having their work externally audited and publishing it online.
These four principles set not only a practicable standard for operators to aspire to, but offer valuable guidelines for tourists seeking legitimate and socially beneficial volunteering experiences.â The Judges Citation
For a full copy of the audit go to http://www.travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk/PressView.aspx?id=29
For more details of people and places go to http://www.travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk/press.aspx
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