people and places


International award winners matching volunteers' skills & experience to community need. Our volunteers work with local people, not instead of them.

Who are we?

people and places is an award-winning, ethical and responsible volunteer travel organisation.  Since 2005 we have been placing volunteers in projects where their skills and experience are matched to local needs.  We are guided by their shared need to gain real mutual benefits: a ‘win-win’ volunteer experience that is built within our own core values of accountable, ethical and responsible volunteering.

What do we do?

In 2002, the Cape Town Declaration said that tourism should ‘actively involve the local community in planning and decision-making, and provide capacity-building to make this a reality.’  We firmly believe this approach should also be applied to volunteering abroad, and it’s the very basis of how we work.  Every one of the projects we work with originates in the local community – NOT here.  Each project is proposed by a local partner and their needs discussed with people and places before we start to recruit and match volunteers.  Before any volunteer is matched with a project, we will have shared with them information about that volunteer and their skills and experience.  Only with the project’s consent will a volunteer placement be confirmed, and at that stage the volunteer will also be consulted about the proposals for their work – this is what we mean by ‘informed consent’. 

Where do we work?

We work in 11 different countries around the world, and on a variety of different types of project, ranging from education, to business, to community support, to health and social care, to conservation.   In each case the project has been identified by our local partners – we believe it is more appropriate, more effective and more responsible to work WITH local people rather than INSTEAD of them.  That’s why there are no people and places’ employees working in host countries. 

In preparation for working with a local project, we carry out rigorous due diligence – ensuring that both the volunteers and the people they work with are safe and well-prepared.  Every place where volunteers work has undergone a full risk assessment and any particular safety issues will be addressed with volunteers in the full local orientation which takes place at the start of each placement.  Every local partner also provides 24/7 support for volunteers throughout their placements.  The safety of local communities, and of our volunteers, is our primary concern.

Volunteers can comfortably prepare for their placements in the knowledge that we’ve already addressed the social, economic and environmental criteria that make up responsible volunteering abroad.

Our history

people and places started with a chance meeting in 2005 between the three founders of the organisation.  Their conversation rapidly centred on volunteer travel and in particular the chasm between marketing and reality in a significant number of volunteer offers, with both sides – volunteers and local communities – frequently finding themselves being sold a project that had little resemblance to the real situation.  So people and places was started to address such potential exploitation of both volunteers and local people.  To achieve positive and long-term change, our own unique model of ethical and responsible volunteering was developed, whereby all parties would be best-served and which would be totally open and honest in all its activities, including financial matters.

So people and places was born – a social enterprise committed to responsible volunteering.

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for volunteers who have the skills and experience to meet needs identified by each of the programs we work with.  These are available on the program pages on Volunteer World, and are updated regularly in consultation with the projects to ensure needs are still current.  You do not need formal educational qualifications to volunteer with people and places.  Everyone has transferable skills – we take the time to find out what they are and design a placement outline for you which ensures these skills can be fully used to benefit the local community. 

Why choose us?

Choose us because we are internationally recognised as the best organisation for skills-share volunteering.  You will have a placement outline specifically written for you to make use of your skills and experience.  You will know that the work you do is of value because it has been structured to meet needs specifically identified by local people at the project where you will work – a ‘win-win’ experience both for you and for the people you will be working with.

Der Hauptfokus dieser Organisation ist
Ja, es ist eine registrierte Non-Profit-Organisation
sallie grayson
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Social Impact

Our social impact comes through the way we work with local communities.  

Every local need on our volunteer support plans is identified by the local projects and updated regularly.  Every volunteer’s placement outline is devised by people at the place where they will work, in conjunction with our local partners, to ensure their work is of real value.  Every volunteer’s placement makes targeted use of their skills and experience - teachers work with local teachers - healthcare professionals with local healthcare workers, business people with local entrepreneurs.  

In this way we have achieved skills-transfer to local individuals, enterprises, schools and communities over a number of years.  For example, in schools teaching volunteers have introduced local educators to active learning techniques and individualised learning in countries where these ideas were not in common use;  business and marketing volunteers have introduced new ideas on quality control, the supply chain, financial planning and online advertising; health care volunteers have helped to run community workshops to improve basic standards of hygiene in villages without piped water or sewage systems.  

In all cases the local community has asked for volunteers who can share their skills in these areas, and in all cases it is up to the local community whether or not they adopt them long-term.  The fact that every project where we work speaks highly of our volunteers and wants them to keep coming back suggests the social impact is genuine!

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