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FAQs

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW...AND MORE

CHOOSING A TRIP

What is your best destination?

People join PMGY from around the world and are all looking for their own unique experience. It is therefore impossible to suggest an overall ‘best destination’ as we believe certain locations suit different people and their expectations.

 

Having said that we generally receive the best feedback from volunteers joining us in Bali, Ghana, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand & Vietnam. Each location offers an amazing experience but we find that our local teams really make the experience for our participants in-country. The teams in the aforementioned destinations really go the ‘extra-mile’ to provide the best possible experience and this is reflected in feedback from volunteers.

What kind of volunteer work will I be doing?

We offer a range of placements in areas such as education, childcare, wildlife conservation, disabled care and healthcare.

 

Each placement faces its own unique challenges so your role will vary depending on the project you’ll be working on. For a clear idea of your volunteer role, please visit the information webpage of the programme you’re interested in.

 

If you’d like further information about your role, please pick up the phone and give us a call. We have been there and done it ourselves so we can tell you exactly what to expect from your volunteer experience.

Can I talk to people who have volunteered before?

We have dedicated Facebook Groups set up for all our destinations where you can connect with past, present and future PMGY participants. These groups can be found by searching on Facebook for ‘PMGY’ followed by the name of the destination. For example ‘PMGY Sri Lanka’, ‘PMGY India’, ‘PMGY Ghana’ etc.

 

In line with our Privacy Policy however we are unable to disclose the personal contact details of our previous participants.

Will I be there on my own or will there be other volunteers with me?

PMGY places over 2,000 volunteers around the world every year so the social aspect of the programmes is extremely important to us.

 

Of course there will be certain programmes and countries that are more accessible and popular than others. There are also those programmes and countries that are off the beaten track and lend themselves well to more independent travel.

 

It is important that you consider this when applying. For example, if you want to be in the thick of things in a country that is always buzzing with lots of fellow volunteers please do say but on the other hand if you’re a more independent traveller who craves peace and quiet and somewhere completely off the beaten track then its good for us to know that too. If you have any queries about the social aspect in any country just give us a call.

Are there any age restrictions?

The minimum age to join the majority of our programmes is 18 and there is no upper age limit.

 

We do however have a number of programmes which participants aged 17 can take part in and one project specifically designed for 16 year olds.

 

Generally the average age range of volunteers is 17-22 but this is by no means definitive.

Do I need any specific skills?

The majority of our programmes do not require any specific skills or experience, as we believe everyone has something to give. Some of our Medical and NGO Support programmes do require certain educational qualifications, so please check the specific requirements for the programme you’re interested in before applying.

 

More information on these requirements can be found within the programme information page.

What costs do I need to consider?

The other costs you’ll need to cover in addition to your Registration and Programme Fees are:

  • Flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa Cost
  • Immunisation Costs
  • Background Check
  • Spending Money

Can I organise my own accommodation, food or transport and get a discount?

While we completely appreciate people may want to arrange their own accommodation, meals or transportation we aim to provide a safe and secure experience in-country, and that becomes difficult if people want to alter the foundations of the programme. In order to join PMGY you need to commit to the entire fee structure offered by the programme. In the event participants do not use a particular element of the programme then we do not provide any discounts or refunds.

Are the countries/programmes safe?

Although our volunteers work in the developing world, we always ensure our host locations are safe. Each programme has been extensively researched and has passed our strict vetting process. Our UK team undergo an extensive routine when establishing our in-country infrastructures and we continue to monitor our safety procedures on a regular basis. Furthermore, we monitor the stability of our volunteer destinations on a daily basis. Through our constant contact with consulates and embassies and our reports from our overseas teams, we are able to ensure that our volunteers are never placed in unstable regions.

 

The PMGY team have visited and participated in every programme we offer and verified them based on our own independent criteria. We carefully inspect every little detail of our set-up. From inspecting the living conditions, checking out the neighbourhoods you’ll be staying in, to tasting the food you’ll be eating – each and every programme we establish has gone through a lengthy and rigorous vetting process. Risk assessments have been written for all areas in which PMGY operate and our experienced local coordinators are always on-hand to manage any emergencies that may occur. Our UK team are always on the road reviewing our risk management procedures in the field and monitoring local conditions.

 

In emergency situations we have the necessary protocols and equipment in place and we are able to evacuate our volunteers from potential dangers. Our local coordinators are trained to deal with emergency circumstances.

 

When you join PMGY we will send you a Volunteer Handbook. This document addresses a range of issues such as health, safety, visa issues etc. Furthermore, our UK team are only ever a phone call away should you wish to discuss any aspect of your upcoming programme. When you arrive in-country, you’ll be given a comprehensive safety briefing during your orientation course by our local coordinators. We will go through everything from emergency procedures, how to use local transport and cultural differences. You’ll also be given the opportunity to purchase a local SIM card, something we strongly suggest, so you’re contactable at all times. We will provide you with a full list of the important contact numbers that you’ll need to know.

 

All our local teams are experienced development professionals who have years of experience in hosting international volunteers. They are our representatives on the ground and will assist you 24/7 throughout your stay. Whether you need to call home, travel at the weekend or require urgent assistance – they are there to support you.

 

While we cannot guarantee your volunteer experience to be 100% trouble free we have taken all the necessary precautions to make sure each programme is as safe as possible.

Where does my money go?

Your Registration Fee covers all the services provided by PMGY’s UK team. These include staff administrative costs, regular programme visits, full financial protection and our 24/7-support service. You’ll be surprised at how much effort we put into establishing our volunteer programmes and making sure they run safely and smoothly.

 

Your Programme Fee covers your stay in the host country. This includes food, accommodation, airport pickup; local transport and your in-country orientation. We have local teams in all our volunteer destinations who work around the clock to ensure you’re safe, prepared for life in that country, and enjoying your time with PMGY. This support structure ensures that the safety net is in place and logistics are taken care of so you can focus on your volunteer service and have an unforgettable experience.

Can I volunteer if I live outside the UK?

We accept volunteers from all over the world. The majority of our participants are from the UK, US, Canada & Australia. However we have hosted volunteers from countries such as Nigeria, Bermuda & Peru in the past.

Can I use PMGY’s programmes as part of a university or college placement?

It is certainly possible to use one of PMGY’s programmes as part of your university or college placement. Project staff can sign off any paperwork required by your course tutors. PMGY regularly receives medical, childcare, psychology and nursing placement students at our projects around the world and we have ties with some of the leading universities.

 

If you’re a course tutor and would like further information about how one of PMGY’s programmes could meet the placement requirements for your degree course then please contact us directly on [email protected] to schedule a meeting.

Do I need to undergo a Criminal Background Check in order to join PMGY?

To join any of our programmes you’ll need to provide us with a clean CRB or Police Check before you travel. We have a commitment to the projects we support to ensure the volunteers we send are trustworthy and of sound moral character. We are unable to accept participants who have had any previous criminal convictions.

 

If you hold a current CRB or Police Check then we can accept this providing it is issued no more than 18 months prior to  your programme start date. Please scan and email us a copy of this document. If you do not have a CRB or Police Check then we will outline how to obtain this in your Volunteer Handbook. The CRB or Police Check must be submitted to us no less than 21 days prior to your programme start date.

 

If you don’t have a valid CRB check (also known as DBS or Police Check), then you will need to apply for one. UK volunteers need to apply for a “Basic Disclosure” through Disclosure Scotland (which serves all people in the UK). You can apply for a basic disclosure via the following link http://www.disclosurescotland.co.uk/basicdisclosureonline

 

This costs £25 and takes around 15 working days to process. Full information on how to obtain a CRB check through Disclosure Scotland is outlined in the volunteer handbook you receive once you are signed up to the programme.

How do I apply?

All applications should be made through our website – www.planmygapyear.co.uk

 

Applicants should navigate to their chosen programme page and then click the ‘Apply Now’ button in order to proceed to the Online Application pages. The whole process takes around 15 minutes. The more we know about you the better placed we are to meet, and exceed, your expectations. For example, if you want to be in the thick of things in a country that is always buzzing with lots of fellow volunteers please do say but on the other hand if you’re a more independent traveller who craves peace and quiet and somewhere completely off the beaten track then its good for us to know that too.

When should I apply?

For the majority of our programmes you can apply at any time. However, we advise that you apply as soon as possible to ensure we have availability on the programme – particularly if you’re looking to travel between June and August, as spaces can fill up very quickly during this period.

 

It is best that you apply sooner rather than later as some of our programmes only have a limited capacity and spaces get filled very quickly. However, you should always make sure you’re 100% committed to the programme before applying.

 

It is also possible to change your start dates once you have already applied and had your space confirmed. However, please note this does carry an administration charge of £39 and is subject to availability.

 

You need to apply online by locating the “Apply Now” button on the individual programme; this will guide you through our Online Application process.

What duration would you recommend?

Based on volunteer feedback we believe a period of 4-6 weeks is the ideal time to get really involved in a project and make an impact. This also allows you to have enough time at the weekends to explore the local area and further afield. Participants who join us for 2 weeks frequently tell us that they did not believe this was long enough and wish they had stayed for a longer period.

Can I arrive earlier/later than my programme start date?

We have two start dates per month for all of our volunteer projects. We do understand that people have time constraints and so forth, however we strongly recommend that participants arrive on the set start dates. We aim to provide a structured experience and we feel participants are most comfortable when they arrive on the set start date and commence the programme itinerary right away.

 

Late arrivals are problematic because participants will miss the initial orientation session. This is one of the most important parts of the whole programme and attendance is compulsory.

 

In the event you need to arrive early/late (for whatever reason) please do contact us before applying to join us. A member of our team can advise if it is possible to arrive early and the additional costs it would incur.

Can I go with my friend/parent/boyfriend/girlfriend?

You’re more than welcome to travel and volunteer with friends, family members or with a boyfriend/girlfriend. If required, we can make sure that you stay in the same accommodation and volunteer at the same project (please note the majority of our volunteer accommodation is on a single-sex basis).

 

Please outline in the ‘Special Requirements’ box of your online application if you’d like to make sure you’re placed alongside another applicant/s.

Can I combine placements in one location?

In some of our destinations such as India, Sri Lanka & Ghana it may be possible to combine programmes and contribute your time at multiple projects during your time with us. However we do insist participants make a minimum commitment of at least 2 weeks per project to provide a worthwhile experience for everyone involved. Volunteers are usually assigned one project for the duration of their time in-country.

 

If this is something you’re interested in please call our office or email us at [email protected] to discuss the possibility with a member of our team prior to applying.

How do I apply to join PMGY in multiple destinations?

Many people choose to join PMGY in multiple destinations. It is something we definitely encourage as it provides a great experience volunteering in different countries and cultures.

 

If you are looking to participate in multiple locations then we encourage you just to apply to one in the first instance. During the Online Application process you will notice a ‘Special Requirements’ box, please enter in this field all the programmes you would like to join and our UK team can make the necessary arrangements for you. This saves you needing to complete multiple application forms!

How do I pay?

In order to confirm your place on a PMGY programme you need to pay the Registration Fee (£149). The remaining Programme Fee is then due no less than 60 days prior to your programme start date.

 

You’re only required to pay your £149 Registration Fee once we can guarantee you a place on the programme, unless you’re applying within 60 days of your programme start date in which case you’ll need to pay the full amount to confirm your place. We will notify you by email that you have been successful in your application.

 

Any remaining payments must be made no less than 60 days prior to your start date. This payment can be made in one lump sum or in several instalments. If you chose to take our insurance or book a flight with PMGY then these must be paid for (in full) at the time of booking.

 

Payments can be made directly through our website using all major debit and credit cards. We will outline instructions to make payment in our email communication with you. Please note credit card payments are subject to a 3% additional fee to cover the bank charges that PMGY incur.

BEFORE YOU DEPART

Can I fundraise for my trip?

With PMGY the money our volunteers pay goes towards the structure you receive for your time with us overseas. The fundamentals of this structure include food, accommodation, airport pickups, around the clock support from our UK and in-country team, pre-departure training as well as the implementation and monitoring of the projects.

 

We do our best to keep our programme costs as low and affordable as possible, without sacrificing on quality and safety. However with flights, travel insurance and spending money to factor into your overall budget, you may find you need a little bit of help with the finances. Therefore a large number of PMGY volunteers decide to fundraise for their trip.

 

We recommend setting up an online fundraising page to allow friends and families to learn more about your trip and make donations. PMGY have partnered with the online crowd funding website GoGetFunding.

 

This professional online fundraising service creates a personalised fundraising page for your PMGY trip, allowing you to set financial goals and get the message across about what you’re doing. You can also share your PMGY fundraising page across various social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to spread the word.

Can I raise money for the projects?

The PMGY Foundation is a UK registered charity (1169415) that has been set up to help provide financial aid and assistance to the projects and countries we work with on an ongoing basis.

 

The objective of the PMGY Foundation is the prevention or relief of poverty of people living in the communities we support by providing or assisting in the provision of education, training, healthcare projects and all the necessary support designed to enable individuals to generate a sustainable income and be self-sufficient.

 

The ultimate aim of the PMGY Foundation is to enable donations to be directed towards specific hand-picked projects in countries most in need. The project donations are determined by the charities trustees during our annual overseas visits.

 

If you are looking to help raise money directly for the PMGY Foundation you can do so via our JustGiving fundraising page.

 

100% of all money raised will be donated directly to the projects we support around the world. Please note that participants are unable to raise money through the PMGY Foundation to help finance the cost of their trip overseas.

Who will arrange my flight?

You can choose to book your flights independently or we can help you in arranging them. Through our close partnerships within the travel industry we are able to offer flights at very competitive rates. PMGY has a wealth of experience in travelling to and from our host countries; we know the most affordable ways to travel and the best airlines to use.

 

For peace of mind, PMGY holds an ATOL Licence (No. 11262) that allows us to offer flight-based packages that are financially protected by the Civil Aviation Authority in the unlikely event of our insolvency.

 

If you’d like to receive a flight quote from PMGY, you can submit an online enquiry by visiting the specific web-page of the programme you’re interested in joining, or by calling our office or dropping us an email.

 

When you apply for a PMGY programme we cannot guarantee your acceptance immediately. On receiving an application we have to liaise with our local team to ensure there is space available on the programme and to assess your suitability for the specific project.

 

Therefore, we strongly recommend that you do not make any flight and/or travel arrangements until your programme has been confirmed by us in writing. Once your programme has been confirmed you’re then free to book your flights either with PMGY or a through third party travel agent.

Do you offer travel insurance?

It is mandatory that all PMGY volunteers hold travel insurance during the entirety of their time on our programme; this includes your travel to and from the host country. Although PMGY do everything to ensure your trip is safe, inevitably things can go wrong so you must adequately protect yourself.

 

PMGY have teamed up with the insurance company Endsleigh to create an affordable and comprehensive travel insurance policy for our volunteers. The policy is specifically designed to insure PMGY volunteers for all their travel essentials. The policy is available to anyone up to the age of 75 and covers you throughout any PMGY destination and any onward travel you may arrange (excluding the US and Canada). You can purchase PMGY Travel Insurance during your online application or you can contact us directly to arrange it.

 

Please note that PMGY Travel Insurance is purchased in week-long blocks. Therefore, you should carefully identify how many days you’ll be away for, including the date you depart and return to your home country, to ensure you select the correct duration of travel insurance. For example if you’re travelling for 29 days in total, you’ll need a 5-week policy, not a 4-week policy.

Do I need a visa?

All volunteers need a visa for entry into our volunteer destinations. You may be granted the visa on arrival into the country alternatively you will have to arrange it in your home country prior to travelling. Please note you should contact the relevant embassy in your country to ensure you’re legally entitled to enter the country prior to applying with PMGY.

 

We will send you full information about obtaining a visa in your country-specific Volunteer Handbook that you’ll receive once your place on the programme has been confirmed.

 

Your visa fee is NOT included in your Programme Fee and is something you’ll need to purchase yourself. Not all PMGY locations charge a fee to acquire a visa. We will send you full details of how to obtain a visa within your country-specific Volunteer Handbook.

What about vaccinations and malaria tablets?

As we are not medical experts we cannot, unfortunately, tell you exactly what vaccinations you’ll need to obtain so it is vital you consult your local GP or travel clinic a few months before you intend to travel. Your local doctor/nurse will advise you as to what vaccinations and malaria prevention is needed for entry into your volunteer destination.

 

Additional information can be found on the NHS Fit For Travel website.

How do I get the local currency in advance?

For many of our volunteer destinations you CANNOT purchase local currency from your local Post Office or travel agency. Currencies such as the Vietnamese Dong and Sri Lankan Rupee are closed currencies meaning that they cannot be sold outside of the host country. In such instances, it is best to withdraw cash whilst you’re out there and take some cash in your home currency as backup.

 

Furthermore, we’ll collect you from the airport and show you the local ATM’s and money vendors during your orientation course so you should not need to change up monies straight away.

How much extra spending money should I bring?

The amount of extra spending money you should take depends on where you travel to and how many travel activities you plan to undertake during your free time. If you plan to go for a safari in Tanzania, scuba-diving course in Thailand or trekking in South Africa, then you should budget accordingly. However, for general expenses and some independent travel, you should find £50-£100 per week a suitable amount.

What is the dress code at the projects?

Dress code varies from country to country. We ask that our volunteers adopt a smart and responsible image during their time in the communities. We will outline the specific dress code requirements in your Volunteer Handbook so you know exactly what to pack.

 

The general rule of thumb for girls is to cover your shoulders and thighs and for men to not take their shirts off. Whilst we do not wish to impose strict regulations on our volunteers, we do ask that you respect the local culture during your travels. Dressing appropriately will earn you the respect of the people you’ll be working with.

 

It’s a good idea to take some nicer clothes for the weekends and special occasions but please avoid tight and very short clothing. You should also avoid clothing that may have potentially offensive slogans on it. Tattoos and piercings should be covered where possible whilst you’re at your placement, particularly if you’re working with children.

What should I pack?

A packing list is included within your Volunteer Handbook. This will be sent to you once you application has been confirmed.

 

The majority of our placements are located in or around major cities so you’ll be able to pick up most things you’ll need whilst you’re out there. It is also advised that you arrive with some space in your suitcase, as you’re highly likely to pick up a few souvenirs along the way!

Can I travel before/after my volunteer placement?

You’re welcome to travel before and/or after your volunteer placement. If you’re travelling before joining PMGY then we ask you keep us posted with your travel plans so we can organise your airport or bus/train station collection.

 

If you plan to travel after your programme then our local team can assist you with organising any in-country travel you wish to undertake.

ON YOUR TRIP

Will I be met at the airport?

For all of our worldwide programmes you’ll be met at the airport by one of PMGY’s local coordinators. Please see the information page of the specific programme you’re interested in for exact information about the collection service included in your Programme Fee.

Will I be able to travel whilst on the programme?

You’ll have plenty of opportunity to travel during your time with PMGY. In fact, we encourage you to travel during your free time. All of our programmes have been designed so that you have weekends off. This gives you the opportunity to explore the local area or even travel further afield within your host country. Our local coordinators will provide you with all the travel tips you need to help you plan any independent adventures.

 

Furthermore, you’re going to meet so many new people during your time with PMGY that you’ll definitely meet some travel buddies along the way!

 

Before booking your flights we recommend that you look into travel opportunities within the relevant country either side of your volunteering placement. It is always great to spend some time travelling and seeing more of the country you wish to volunteer in. If you do plan to travel extensively please factor this into your flight itinerary, as we only encourage travel during weekends while you’re volunteering as you have made a commitment to the project.

What is the best way to keep in touch with home whilst I am away?

There are numerous ways you can keep in touch with home whilst you’re away. Virtually all accommodation types, apart from in our most rural locations, will have telephone access. We also advise you bring an unlocked mobile phone and buy a local SIM card. Some of our accommodation types offer Internet access so you can email, Skype or Facebook home freely. If this is not available at your accommodation, you can use an Internet cafe in town.

 

Our local coordinators and UK team are also contactable 24/7. We will provide you with contact details of our UK and in-country emergency numbers for you or your parents to call in such an instance. If you have difficulty contacting home or your parents have difficulty contacting you, we are always available to pass on any messages on your behalf.

 

And if you fancy contacting home the old fashioned way, you can always write a letter or postcard – however please remember that the postal service in the developing world is very slow so please allow plenty of time for your letter/postcard to reach home!

What if I get sick?

We have a set emergency procedure in place so our local teams are ready to react in the unfortunate event of you becoming ill. We will immediately transport you to a medical facility so you can receive treatment. All of our in-country staff are experienced in hosting international volunteers and will always look to put volunteers in International Hospitals with English speaking medical staff. In the UK, we liaise daily with our local teams so that we can contact your family and friends to ensure everyone is fully aware of your situation. We can also relay any messages between you and your family if you’re unable to contact each other directly. This service is available 24/7, 365 days of the year.

 

Although our local teams will assist you in getting to hospital and support you during the whole process, they are unable to pay for any medical fees. You must ensure you possess the appropriate travel insurance to cover relevant medical expenses.

 

We offer our own travel insurance policy specially designed for PMGY volunteers.

Can I make donations to the project?

It is absolutely fine for you to make a donation to the project you’ll be working at. In many cases you’ll find that you can pick up most things you may wish to donate within the host country itself. Therefore, we recommend you buy any goods whilst you’re out there rather than purchasing in your own country. This not only provides much needed stimulation to the local economy and frees up space in your luggage but it also gives you the chance to see with your own eyes exactly what the placement needs and what you can give.

 

We highly discourage participants to donate cash payments directly to their project. Ultimately we can never guarantee where these funds would end up.

 

If you have any questions, please contact our team to discuss the options available to you.

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