Frequently Asked Questions 

 

How much does going on a project cost?

We have several programme areas and the costs of going on a project vary between each one. Our main programme, ‘Volunteering Abroad’, which you can browse via the ‘search’ button on our website, costs £225. This covers food and accommodation and sometimes leisure activities too. Occasionally, the hosting organisation asks for an ‘extra fee’ to cover their costs. UNA Exchange and its partner organisations are all not-for-profit, so neither fee goes into anyone’s pocket but is used to keep our good work going. Apart from this, you need to organise your own travel, to get to the project meeting point, take out travel insurance (very highly recommended), and organise your visas and vaccinations if necessary. We are available to help you through the process so don’t worry if this all sounds like a logistical nightmare – we promise you, it’s not…

Please see our Cost of Volunteering page for more information about the costs involved. 

Do I have to pay for my project straight away?

You will be asked to pay during your application process as we can’t process your application until we receive your payment. If you desperately like the idea of any of our projects but cannot afford it today, get in touch, we may be able to help.

What is the “extra fee” that I see on some of the project descriptions?

The extra fee helps cover extra costs of some of the projects in our database. Although some projects are low cost and therefore do not require an extra fee, some projects cost more to host. Examples of the kinds of projects that may cost more are: teen projects (because of the added cost of criminal records checks on the project’s leaders) and projects in expensive countries (Scandinavian countries can cost a little bit more to go to because of the relatively high cost of living and hosting there).

Where does my project fee go?

Usually it goes for the running project and the local community, you can find more about it in the project description. A little bit is set aside for UNA Exchange to cover its administration fees and other core costs associated with keeping the charity going. It may seem like a lot of money, but it just about covers our costs each year.

Who is UNA Exchange?

UNA Exchange is a peace organisation that has existed since 1973. We were founded on an ethic of promoting peace, intercultural understanding and personal development by offering affordable, community-based volunteering opportunities in Wales and around the world. We believe that by facilitating projects where people from different cultures and countries can come together for a short time to volunteer and live, we are doing our little bit for world peace. 

What is the difference between a project and a workcamp? 

There is no difference; we use these terms interchangeably. The word ‘workcamp’ is an historic one that we’ve always used and it’s the word that our partner organisations across the globe also use. We sometimes refer to a workcamp as a project but, really, we mean the same thing. 

Can I do more than one project?

You definitely can. In this case you will have a discount on the arrangement fee: £400 for 2 projects. Contact us if you want to do more than two.

Are there other things I can do with UNA Exchange?

We run plenty of events here at UNA Exchange, such as workcamps in Wales (for those already living in Wales as well as for people from across the globe), lots of training events and the occasional party! See our EVENTS page for more information.

How do I know I can trust UNA Exchange?

UNA Exchange has existed since 1973 and comes highly recommended by many partner organisations we’ve worked with since. The charity is a corollary of the United Nations Association which began in Wales in 1973 and is very much based on the same principles that inspired those in the early part of the 20th century. We gained charitable status in the early 80s before becoming a Charitable Incorporated Organisation in 2014 (Charity no. 1158106). Our founding members – most notably Robert Davies and John Burford – were community activists in South Wales and UNA Exchange was just one of many organisations in which they were involved. They believed that by bringing people from different backgrounds together to work on common projects, for the benefit of local communities, barriers could be broken down and differences could be understood, appreciated and celebrated. These values still form the basis of everything we do, whether weekend projects or year-long volunteering.

I’m not of “youth age”. Can I still apply?

Except for teen projects (for volunteers aged 15-17), there is no age limit unless specified within the project description. The vast majority of our projects are open to all, whether you’re 18 or 80! This is in keeping with our overall ethos of ‘exchanges’ between cultures – we believe inter-generational exchange is just as important and we highly encourage it.  

I’m actually very “youthful”. Can I still apply?

If you are aged between 15 and 17, you can apply to one of our teen projects. Be quick, though, because these projects over over-subscribed every year.

Can I go with a friend?

Yes, it’s possible to apply together with a friend. In this case is preferable to apply as soon as possible as the place for volunteers coming from the same country can be limited. Don’t forgot to specify in your application that you would like to go with a friend and include their name too.

Can I take my kid(s)?

There is a small number of family camps every year. Like teen camps, these tend to be over-subscribed so please be quick in your applications. If you can’t find any family camps on our database, a select few of our general camps may be flexible. Call us for more information.  

What if I have an emergency while I’m away/need to get home?

If you have an emergency whilst volunteering with us, we will do our best to help you. Firstly, speak with your project leader. If the emergency can be dealt with there, the leader will help. If not, your project leader will contact us and/or your friends/family as needed. We have a stringent emergency procedure and there is always someone from UNA Exchange available to help out in extreme situations.

What if I don’t like the project?

We recommend that you give it at least two more days to settle in if you don’t like the project. It’s rare that this happens but when it does, more often than not, it’s because the volunteer is homesick, or overwhelmed, or anxious about their new surroundings and social situation. Everyone at UNA Exchange has felt exactly the same and have come out the other side! This is one of the benefits of volunteering abroad: if at first you don’t like it and then you do, well… you can chalk this up to being a new experience that you were brave enough to experience.

What will my accommodation be like?

The accommodation can be variable but you will find more information in the project descriptions on our website. Some projects offer a comfy bed, a bath and wi-fi. Other projects offer the full breadth of nature by taking their volunteers camping.

How will I get to the project?

You have to organise your own travel from your front door to the meeting point. The meeting point depends on the project: for some, the meeting point will be the nearest airport, for others it’s the nearest train or bus station. It’s very unlikely you will be given a map and a set of directions to some remote shack in the hills. You will receive a descriptive “INFO sheet” about 2-4 weeks before your project which will give you more in depth information about travel arrangements. We recommend that for cheaper travel, you book your flights through skyscanner.net or, if you’re doing a project in Europe, travel by bus.

How much luggage can I take?

There is no limit about it, but keep in mind that usually the accommodation is not a hotel, so you need a practical luggage – but feel free to bring all that you think you’ll need.

What if I have problems on my journey/get lost?

You can call the emergency contact provided in the INFO sheet.

Will there be someone to meet me when I get to the host country? 

A meeting point will be communicated to you once you received the “INFO sheet”.

What if I get to the other side and nobody is there?

This will not happen! But perhaps you will enter a rare parallel universe where this does happen, in which case you should call the emergency contact listed in the INFO sheet.

I’ve never been to an airport/foreign bus/train station on my own. What do I do?

Well, what you shouldn’t do is panic. And remember, most airports have directions and signs in English, so it’s unlikely you will get very lost. However, airports can be chaotic so when booking your travel, bear in mind the times between in each leg of your journey. If you’re particularly anxious about travelling, you can research each airport and bus/train station and print a map of where you will need to go. If all else fails, there’s always someone around who speaks English and who is willing to help.

What do I need to take with me?

There are no rules about it, you can bring whatever you want. The INFO sheet will list any special equipment or clothing you need to bring, such as scruffy clothes for renovation work, fancy dress for festivals, and so on.

I don’t have any volunteering abroad experience. Is this okay?

Absolutely yes. No experience is required, just motivation!

Who will the other volunteers be?

We have a commitment with our partner organisations that each workcamp will be as varied as possible, so it’s likely you’ll be volunteering with people from several different countries. It depends on the project, but you could end up with new friends from anywhere!

I won’t know anyone when I get there.

This is the best part of a workcamp. At the end everybody will be your friends. Don’t be scared, talk to them and enjoy.

I don’t speak any other languages. 

This is okay. Most workcamps will list English as the main spoken language.

Do I need a visa?

It depends on where you want to volunteer. Some countries require that you have a visa before you enter (such as India). Others allow you to purchase a visa upon entry (such as Indonesia). Please ask us for help if you get stuck.

Will I need vaccinations?

It depends on where you want to volunteer but your INFO sheet will say. If you are still unsure, you can easily find information online, or we can help you if you don’t know how to do a search.

Can I smoke/drink on the project(s)?

Usually it’s possible but just in your free time. Rarely, a project will be specifically alcohol and smoke-free if it’s a meditative or religious project/host. If this seems like too much of a culture-leap, that’s fine, but bear in mind, this is all about inter-cultural exchange! 

Is it all work or do we get free time as well?

You will be volunteering for around six hours per day with lunch break in the middle. The rest of your times is yours to do with as you will. Most project leaders will organise excursions and other outings too, so you can make the most of your experience!

Will my phone work when I’m abroad?

Check with your network provider as charges will vary. Your phone mostly likely will work, but if you’re volunteering in a remote or mountainous area, this could impact reception availability. In any case, if you need to contact someone urgently, your project leader can definitely help.  

Will I have internet access on the project?

In mostly of the project there is no internet access, unless you have some data in your phone (be aware of roaming charges).

What are the terms and conditions of taking part in the workcamp?

UNA Exchange Terms and Conditions

 

IMPORTANT NOTE – Due to an agreement with our international partners, we can only process applications from volunteers currently resident in the UK. Nationals of other countries living in the UK can apply through us. If you are resident in another country please visit our partner information page to find an organisation where you are.

 

Conditions of Participation (please read carefully before you apply)

 

  1. Volunteer applications will be accepted on the understanding that the volunteer is aware that they are volunteering and have undertaken this application of their own free will.
  2. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age, unless a specific project states otherwise.
  3. UNA Exchange cannot accept any responsibility or liability for changes or cancellations to placements as a result of circumstances beyond its reasonable control including (but not limited to) war, national emergency, flood, earthquake, fire, terrorism or threatened terrorism, or any other event or circumstances that constitute a “force majeure”.
  4. UNA Exchange shall not be liable to volunteers in contact, negligence, breach of statutory duty or otherwise for any loss, damage, costs or expenses of any nature whatsoever incurred or suffered by the volunteer.
  5. Volunteer applications will be accepted on the understanding that volunteer is aware of the risks involved in this kind of volunteer placement, including inconvenience, discomfort and possibly illness. It is the conditions of joining our volunteer programmes that volunteers acknowledge and accept these potential challenges.
  6. Health and safety standards on projects overseas are the responsibility of our partner organisations and standards may differ from the UK norm. If volunteers decide to do a project, they should understand that they are taking full responsibility for their decision to travel.
  7. Information we give volunteers about specific projects has been prepared by our partner organisations and is subject to change. UNA Exchange cannot be held responsible for any changes made to project details, although we will try to notify volunteers of any significant changes as soon as possible. Further information we provide regarding the project is also the responsibility of our partners.
  8. The international partner organisation of UNA Exchange is obliged to provide all volunteers with adequate (at minimum dry and warm) accommodation, water, food and washing facilities. The local project host/organiser should provide work tools, supervision, transport, basic emergency aid and provision for accidents.
  9. An application fee is payable to UNA Exchange, for each project, at the time of application. This fee is currently £225. This amount goes to UNA Exchange and does not directly pay for the costs of running the project which are met locally. This money contributes to the running of our own programme of volunteering in Wales. In some cases and additional fee may be charged.
  10. All travel costs and arrangements to and from the project are the responsibility of the individual volunteer.
  11. Volunteers must be ready to share their time and energy with the group to help the project succeed. This requires common sense, patience, compromise and above all a good sense of humour.
  12. Volunteers must arrive on the first day of the project and stay for the whole duration. If a volunteer wishes to leave early, this must be agreed with the project leaders/organiser on arrival.
  13. By participating in an international volunteer project volunteers agree to photographs and video recording being taken at the project and used for promotional purposes. Volunteers should contact UNA Exchange during the application process if they would prefer not to appear in promotional materials.

 

Insurance

 

  1. UNA Exchange is not responsible for insuring volunteers. We require all volunteers to take out separate and full insurance cover before joining their project. We advise volunteers to purchase a policy which includes at least 10 million pounds cover for health and repatriation costs.

 

  1. It is the responsibility of individual volunteers to purchase insurance and to ensure cover meets their requirements. By agreeing to these terms and conditions, volunteers are agreeing to take out adequate insurance cover. There are a range of policies available that do cover international volunteering. Bear in mind that most still have exclusions such as volunteers do not work more than 2m above ground or use power tools. It is the volunteer’s responsibility to read the terms of their policy and to act within its guidelines while on the project.

 

  1. UNA Exchange takes no responsibility for any loss, damage or personal injury encountered as a result of volunteers travelling uninsured or underinsured.

 

  1. UNA Exchange endeavours to ensure that projects listed on our website/programmes are not in areas where current Foreign and Commonwealth Office guidelines advise against travelling. However, UNA Exchange is unable to give advice on the safety or security status of any country or region and the inclusion of projects in our programme does not imply that we are recommending any country or region as safe to travel in. Please go to the Foreign Office website: www.fco.gov.uk for more information.

 

Cancellations and Refunds

 

Cancellation by the Organisation:

1.If volunteers have a place confirmed on a project and it is then cancelled by the international partner organisation, UNA Exchange will do its utmost to find the volunteer a place on an alternative project. However, if this is not possible, volunteers will receive a refund of the money paid. 2. If all choices of a project are full and volunteer is not able to accept any alternative, a refund will be given. 3. Cancellation by the international partner organisation does not happen very often, but unfortunately is sometimes unavoidable. If the volunteer wants to book travel tickets before receiving final travel details, they are strongly recommended to take out travel insurance at the same time. Volunteers are encouraged to check the small print on any travel tickets as not all insurance companies will refund in the case of cancellation. UNA Exchange regrets that it cannot be held responsible for refunding volunteers for any financial loss due to a project being cancelled.

Cancellation by the Volunteer:

  1. If for any reason a volunteer decides not to accept a place for which they have been confirmed they should inform UNA Exchange immediately since partner organisations needs to be informed so that places can be re advertised.
  2. According to UK trading law, UNA Exchange is obliged to give a full refund within two weeks of purchase. After this, UNA Exchange will not usually refund application fees following a cancellation by a volunteer once they have applied or been accepted for a project by the international partner organisation. Competition for places is high and administration of applications takes place regardless of whether or not a volunteer actually took their place on a project. Under very exceptional circumstances may UNA Exchange make a refund at its own discretion.

Details on the refund of additional fees can be found in the project description and are not the responsibility of UNA Exchange.

 

Definition of terms

 

International Partner Organisation: An organisation, similar to UNA Exchange, in another country which is responsible for placing volunteers onto projects. They are usually a national organisation providing a co-ordination role for a number of projects in their country. They are responsible for ensuring that the local project host/organiser is able to provide suitable accommodation, work and project leader(s) where appropriate.

 

Project Host/Organiser: The person(s)/organisation responsible for setting up, running and supporting the project that you take part in. They are usually a local/community organisation that has identified the need for volunteer help and has liaised with an International Partner Organisation to set up the project you are joining.

 

UNA Exchange May 2016