Responsible Volunteering

Using our home grown code of Responsible Volunteering we are committed to the following:

  • Responsibilities to the project
  • Responsibilities to the volunteer
  • Environmental responsibilities
  • Economic responsibilities
  • Socio-cultural responsibilities

Responsibilities to the project:

All our projects have been set up to fulfil the needs and requirements of the local communities and surrounding environments. In line with the principles of Responsible Volunteering for volunteer sending organisations, we have the following commitments to all our projects:

  • To ensure our projects are based on realistic and achievable aims and objectives that meet the needs of the host community.
  • Our programmes address actual local problems and work to solve these in a respectful manner that doesn’t intrude on host communities.
  • To provide quality volunteers with skills which match the needs and requirements of the project.
  • To work in joint partnership with local governments, organisations and the host community and build relationships based on trust and mutual respect.
  • To work to ensure all our projects are sustainable to avoid dependency by the host community. Our volunteers with alongside local workers, not instead of them.
  • To provide appropriate resources and support to run our volunteer programmes for those involved. We ensure all costs are covered for our placements as well as contributing towards further infrastructure and development costs
  • To continually monitor and evaluate all our projects, allowing us to assess the effectiveness of the project and make any necessary changes and maximise volunteers contribution.

Responsibility to our volunteers:

We believe we have a responsibility to provide volunteers with a worthwhile, quality and a meaningful project that is based on solid responsible volunteering principles. We are committed to providing the following for our volunteers:

  • An honest and accurate portrayal of our organisations, putting across our true values and ethos and ensure all information is as up to date and accurate as possible.
  • Clear and accurate volunteer job roles to prevent and misunderstanding of what is expected.
  • Free, fair and unbiased information on ourselves and our placements. We believe all information on our site is relevant and as accurate as possible. You can find out what current and ex-volunteers thought of thier experience by viewing and commenting on our�������������� Volunteer Testimonials.
  • Information to prepare volunteers for the project. Volunteers can access information from our site on what to expect, volunteer duties, living conditions, country information and details on local culture and politics. An induction pack is also sent out to volunteers before they leave. On arrival volunteers will also take part in an orientation programme.
  • Fair and consistent selection procedures that are made clear to the volunteer from the start. This helps us to match the right people and their skills to the right placement, avoiding problems of disappointment.
  • Continual support from the moment volunteers book till after they return through our evaluation procedure. Our local presence means volunteers will have 24hour access to a member of our team who can quickly and efficiently deal with any issues.
  • Adequate and relevant for each placement. Due to the nature of our projects pre-departure training sessions are not needed as training will happen on site, learning from our local workers.
  • Adequate health and safety procedures to ensure the well being of volunteers. Volunteers are asked to read and sign and adhere to our Health & Safety Policy are all times.
  • Recognise the importance of our volunteers and making them aware of the value of their contribution to the overall picture of the project. To show our gratitude we provide debriefing and exit interviews to allow volunteers to make their views heard and acknowledged. Your service as a volunteer is recognised by an award statement/certificate and we also provide a future reference for you. Current volunteers are also talked about and asked to contribute to our regular newsletters.

Environmental Responsibility

Environmental conservation lies at the heart of The Great Projects, by protecting the future of the surrounding environment and teaching locals how and why we can work to secure the future of tthe marine environment through protection and education.

  • Recycling facilities can be found at our centres as well as environmentally friendly waste management systems.
  • There is a ‘Zero Litter’ policy throughout our projects and you’ll be encouraged to take all litter with you and dispose of correctly
  • Carrying capacity we have fixed group sizes for all our projects to avoid putting extra pressure on the surrounding environment.
  • We encourage volunteers to act in an environmentally friendly manner by educating them on how.
  • We work towards educating the local community on environmental conservation issues to safeguard the future of the rainforests and marine parks.

Economic Responsibility

We take steps to ensure profits are ploughed straight back into the host communities and that money is put into development projects that will benefit the community

  • A minimum of 10% of project costs goes directly to our project sites. In some cases up to 40%.
  • Money and donations are also raised to contribute to marine conservation projects
  • We aim to operate a policy of financial transparency and can provide breakdowns of how the money is distributed for each of our projects.
  • We use locally owned and run accommodation throughout our projects ensuring money stays in the local economy
  • All food during the programmes is sourced and produced locally where possible, due to the remote locations there is some stuff that cannot be produced locally.
  • Support local business and entrepreneurs fairly.
  • Ensure the entire local community benefits financially from our placements.
  • Encourage our volunteers to buy locally and bargain fairly
  • Our projects provide alternative sustainable income for the local community.
  • Our long term commitment to the project helps secure a sustainable financial future for the host community.

Socio-cultural Responsibility:

We believe that it is only when we address the immediate needs of the locals that the local people will join us to address the immediate needs of the local wildlife. Therefore, working in partnership with the host community and involving them in all aspects of decision making is vital to our long-term success. By ensuring we understand the needs of the community we are able to ensure our volunteers contributions are sustainable and avoid dependency. Our volunteers work alongside locals not instead of them. All volunteers are prepared for what to expect and how to act through pre-placement briefing pack and orientation/training throughout the project.

  • All our projects are long term, providing support and funding, helping us build strong relationships, creates local pride and develops a sustainable livelihood for the future of the host community.
  • Local cultures and traditions are respected and incorporated into the volunteer programme allowing volunteers to develop cultural awareness and be welcomed into the host community. This encourages the practice of traditional ways of life which can often be lost from Western impacts.
  • Volunteers work with rather than instead of the local community
  • Information is provided before hand to volunteers about what to expect.
  • We employ local workers for all our projects.
  • Our local presence on the ground allows the host community to bring up any issues.
  • We give training to local communities and partners in areas of conservation and ecotourism, enabling them to develop skills for their future.
  • The host community benefit through improved development of infrastructure, employment, use of local services and the purchasing of local goods and handicrafts.
  • We set small group sizes to avoid intrusion on the communities we work with.

Political Responsibility

The political aspect is often missed out of responsible travel policies but for us it provides the foundations on which we can enter a country and work towards long term sustainable development goals, both with the government and host communities. In Malaysia, we’ve worked closely with and continue to work with the Malaysian government to set out achievable aims and objectives of our projects and make sure our presence in Malaysia is not only a welcome but necessary for the future of many species and communities of Malaysia.Through our research institutions we aim to bring about greater understanding of the plight of the natural environment which will eventually lead to better enforcement and protection by Governments.