Everything you need to know

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How do I choose?

On our Go Overseas page, we've got a handy placement picker to help you explore the options. Are you up for a challenge? Want to use your summer holiday to serve others? Gain experience of life in a developing community? We have some great overseas opportunities for you.

How to use our placement picker

How much does it cost?

The placements vary in price from year to year. The cost includes the following: pre-departure training, insurance, debrief event, a medical package, Tearfund staff time and in-country travel, accommodation and food.

The cost does not cover flights, injections, visas (if required), travel to and from the pre-departure training and reunion events, or any day trips/gifts bought while in country.

Although your placement cost does not include flights, visas or injections, you will receive good advice and support about organising these aspects. As you will need to pay for these yourself, it is important to keep any fundraising for flights, visas and injections separate from the donations you send to Tearfund to pay for the placement (ie this must be done personally and not through JustGiving or an equivalent site, as the fundraising for these elements is not considered to be a charitable donation).

Please note that all costs are subject to change; this is due to the variable nature of overseas travel expenses.

Worried about costs?

When we first meet you at an interview day or at pre-departure training, we will give you some ideas about fundraising. If you would like more inspiration, check out Tearfund's fundraising webzone and Nia’s blog:

www.tearfundjourneys.org/fundraising-3500-mission-impossible-8-great-tips

We don’t ask you to pay the whole cost all at once!

When you apply you are required to send in a non-refundable deposit. The deposit covers the administrative costs of processing your application, interviewing and/or assigning you to a team.

After we have confirmed your place and selected you, we will ask you to send in a further deposit. This is for administrative, preparatory, in-country and other costs that have to be paid in advance, and again, this is non-refundable.

You will need to pay the final balance a month before you travel.

What happens if I have to withdraw from the placement?

If you feel there are extenuating circumstances causing you to withdraw, you are required to put them in writing and we will consider the appropriate course of action with you.

Both your initial deposit and your second deposit are non-refundable. Any payments over and above this amount that have been paid directly to Tearfund may be refunded if requested by the person who donated them. If you have raised money on JustGiving you will need to contact them directly to discuss refunds.

Due to the nature of our work and partners there can sometimes be changes to the details of our advertised placements. We would always seek to share these with you before departure. If any of these changes are deemed significant*, we would refund you the full amount if you then chose to withdraw.

(*Significant changes could be things like working with a different partner or the dates of your placement moving more than a week from the dates advertised. Please be assured that these changes are rarely required.)

What's on offer?

  • 3 - 6 MONTH PLACEMENTS: An opportunity to spend 3 or 6 months working alongside Tearfund’s local partners, tackling a range of issues including climate change, food insecurity, HIV and trafficking. The experience will grow your understanding of God’s heart for His world, equip you with increased knowledge and experience of International Development and develop your teamwork, communication and cross-cultural skills.
  • FAMILY PLACEMENTS: An opportunity to take your family overseas for up to 2 weeks to gain a fresh perspective by connecting with community life in the developing world.
  • GROUP PLACEMENTS: Up to two weeks. An opportunity for your church, school, student or youth group to travel overseas to support, learn from and be inspired by local communities across the developing world.
  • 2 - 4 WEEK PLACEMENTS: An opportunity for individuals to spend 2 - 4 weeks overseas as part of team, working alongside Tearfund’s partners to support local communities. These placements are ideal for students or your annual leave. Be prepared to be stretched, challenged and encouraged!
  • INTERNATIONAL CITIZEN SERVICE (ICS): Twelve weeks. A government-funded overseas placement, working alongside national volunteers on development projects.

Why should I go?

Where do we start, there are just so many reasons…

We believe that this is a chance for you to connect meaningfully and personally with issues of poverty, justice and faith; allowing it to become a deeper part of your story.

By going, you will be supporting our incredible partners - people like you who are totally committed to making a difference to their communities. You will have the chance to learn from them, to understand more clearly the root causes of poverty and to see what it looks like to empower a community to lift themselves out of poverty.

You will get to contribute to the long-term development work being done in the countries we operate in. This could look completely different depending on where you chose to go, but ultimately it means going to the places where our partners are requesting help and giving your time and energy to supporting their incredible work.

We pretty much guarantee that your time away will impact you on such a global level that you will feel more connected to the world around you and understand more about how Tearfund is following Jesus where the need is greatest.

This will be an amazing chance for you to grow and develop in your own identity, your walk with God and in your relationship with others, to learn new and transferable skills.

Why go? Because you’ll be challenged, inspired and encouraged!

What will I be doing?

All sorts! It totally depends on which country you chose and which partner you volunteer alongside. But we’re normally correct when we say...

  • You’ll be learning loads
  • You’ll be supporting our partner to keep up their fantastic work
  • You’ll be making new friends
  • You’ll be growing in your relationship with God

Here are some recent examples.

In Cambodia: Tearfund’s partner CHO, works closely with children, providing education. Volunteers have brought their personal education experience to help teach english, run sports and lead bible studies. CHO also has an incredible Social Enterprise called Destiny Cafe where the volunteers get an opportunity to work alongside locals and develop new innovative ways to expand business in the area.

In India: Tearfund’s partners have invited prayer teams to join them for two weeks. Volunteers bring their fresh enthusiasm and commitment to prayer, coming alongside partners and beneficiaries, often resulting in a fresh awakening of God’s power at work.

Can anyone apply?

We’re looking for people who are flexible, will contribute to the team, are growing in their relationship with God and are part of a local Christian group that can support them in prayer.

We don’t discriminate against applicants on the grounds of sex, colour, race, ethnic background or disability. However, you do need to be fit and well. We welcome applications from those with disabilities that will not significantly hinder their mobility or ability to care for themselves in the UK or developing world.

Does it matter how old I am?

If you want to go by yourself, you need to be over 18. There’s no upper age limit on who can go, although a small premium may be payable by those over 75 (to cover any increase in insurance costs).

Group trips and family placements can include individuals under the age of 18. Please contact us for more info.

Where will I stay and what will I eat?

This totally varies from team to team, but we can guarantee that you will have a mattress under you and a roof over you! You may be sleeping in a church, house, school, or simple guesthouse. Two-week teams tend to live in a guesthouse with running water. Food will usually be a mixture of local food and English food. It’s hard to predict what you will encounter so you need to expect the unexpected. Our most common complaint from teams is that they are treated too well!

Will I get training and support?

You will receive all the information you’ll need to know to prepare you for your placement, including: in-depth medical and travel advice, travel insurance information, cultural guidelines, fundraising ideas and advice about involving your local church.

Pre-departure training: You must attend our pre-departure training. This will be the first time you meet your team. The course will prepare you to visit a new culture, and help you and your team get to know each other. There are sessions on culture, staying healthy, safety and security, information about where you are going, as well as plenty of time to focus on God. We work in partnership with Interhealth, a medical charity for those travelling and working overseas. We take health and safety very seriously and comply with the Global Connections Code of Best Practice in providing you with adequate insurance cover, 24-hour support whilst overseas and the appropriate equipment.

Follow up: On your return to the UK you will be offered a debrief for your team. This is an excellent opportunity to renew friendships, to review what you’ve experienced, and to thank God for all that he has done and to ensure that it continues to impact your life.

Responsibility: We’re looking for motivated individuals with a heart for leadership and a desire to make a difference to lead our placements. All team leaders are given full Tearfund training. Please apply directly if you're interested in leading a team.

Promotion: If you want to promote your placement with the media, contact our communications manager: lucy.pieterse@tearfund.org

How safe will I be? (if you're not asking this question, your mum is)

We take a number of steps to ensure the safety and security of our teams whilst overseas. We consult our regional desk officers based in Teddington, the overseas Tearfund partner that the team is visiting and the latest Foreign Office travel advice, before making decisions about whether a team can travel. We will cancel a placement if we are not happy with the security situation. Team leaders are all briefed on our emergency procedures and are able to contact us 24 hours a day. We carry out a risk assessment before the teams go overseas and all team leaders are required to carry out another risk assessment when they arrive, to be emailed back to us in the office. All team members receive a safety and security briefing at their orientation.

Where does the money go?

What do other people say about the placements?

Don’t be discouraged if you feel you are not making a big difference on your own, it’s a team effort and if everyone makes a small impact together big differences will be made

HAYLEY FAULKNER

We also publish placement reviews throughout this website.

Who else will be on my team?

Other members of your team could come from many different walks of life. Like you, they’ll be passionate about growing in their relationships with the world, with each other and with God. They'll be excited to see what God will do through them while they’re overseas.

Who do you work with?

  • Tearfund Lifestyle - Tearfund Lifestyle is a whole-life response to global poverty. We are passionate about living out justice through our everyday actions, determined to make a difference in the world. We are taking small, everyday steps to change the way we live and having conversations that help us shape our understanding of what we can do to tackle the problems of poverty and injustice. We believe that together, we can discover what it means to #LiveDifferent.

Enough already! How do I apply?

Start your application process today

Apply Now

How do I contact you if I have more questions?

Sometimes it’s so hard to navigate your way around new sites, so we’d love to chat to you over the phone or email.

Get in touch!

What happens if my placement is cancelled?

If we have to cancel your placement we will do our best to find a suitable alternative placement in discussion with you. If this is not possible we will refund all payments made to the person who donated them.

In the unlikely situation that your IVT placement is cancelled in the event of Tearfund’s insolvency, here's the official blurb on what happens…

The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT) provides financial protection under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 for Tearfund, and in the event of their insolvency, protection is provided for the following:

  • 1. non-flight packages commencing in and returning to the UK;
  • 2. non-flight packages commencing and returning to a country other than the UK; and
  • 3. flight inclusive packages that commence outside of the UK, which are sold to customers outside of the UK.

1, 2 and 3 provides for a refund in the event you have not yet travelled. 1 and 3 provides for repatriation. Please note that bookings made outside the UK are only protected by ABTOT when purchased directly with Tearfund.

ABTOT Tearfund logo

I'm Signed Up

What is pre-departure training?

This is the exciting part - the first time you meet your team. We take you away for a few days and treat you to a hectic schedule of training, team bonding and challenges to prepare you for what lies ahead.

The pre-departure training will prepare you for visiting a new culture, and will help you and your team get to know each other. There are also sessions on staying healthy, safety and security, information about where you are going, and plenty of time to focus on God.

What should I take with me?

You will be given a preparation pack at your pre-departure training and this will tell you everything you need to take with you and also all you need to do before you go. We will also send you a Take Me With You pack the week before you leave.

What about flights, visas & passports?

Booking your flights

Tearfund has an excellent relationship with the travel company Diversity Travel. We have set up a very simple process to help your team with booking flights.

Don't book any flights until after pre-departure training, as sometimes the dates of placements change. At pre-departure training, your team will appoint a flight co-ordinator to liaise with Diversity (contact details below). We will provide you with the details of when you need to arrive/depart – wait until we do! - and together with the team you should discuss other considerations such as which airport(s) you will be flying from. The flight coordinator should take this information to Diversity, and they will provide you with some options. As a team, discuss which one is most preferable, so that you are arriving as close to the same time as possible.

Diversity will make a group booking, and then each team member can call them to pay over the phone.

Diversity Travel

phone: 0161 235 5400

email: reservations@diversitytravel.co.uk

You do not have to book flights with Diversity, but we find their wealth of knowledge and experience to be invaluable!

Obtaining your visa

Diversity will produce info packs for teams. We will provide any necessary supporting documentation (e.g. contact details and a letter of invitation).

Visas can be purchased through Diversity (see above) or separately. If you do a group visa booking through Diversity it will reduce their fee, and they are experts in getting everything sorted swiftly.

Passport requirements

Please ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months after your return, has two blank pages and is machine readable. If you’re unsure of what you need, find further information here.

If your passport doesn’t match these criteria, apply for a new passport immediately and let us know that you are doing so. Once you’ve got your new passport, inform us of your passport number.

We recommend that you scan your passport and email a copy of this to your email account, in case you need to access this whilst overseas (e.g. if your passport is lost or stolen during your placement).

How do I pay for my placement?

Remember that all of the following mechanisms can only be used for money going to Tearfund and not for raising funds to cover your personal expenditure (eg flights etc). Refunds cannot be given on excesses raised.

  • Online
  • JustGiving - you can set up your own fundraising page on JustGiving (great for getting family, friends and church people to support you). Just put your placement reference and placement fund code in the ‘My Story’ box and we'll link it up. Give us a ring if you want to know more.
  • Credit/debit cards - Give us a ring and we will process the payment.
  • Cheque - Please ensure the following:
    • Make all cheques payable to ‘Tearfund’.
    • Write your name, reference number and placement code on the back.
    • If your cheque is for a group, please also provide the names and reference numbers for each traveller, plus a note of the amount for each person.
    • Please note that your cheque will be processed on the day we receive it; we are unable to hold cheques so please ensure you have cleared funds available in your account. This will help us to avoid having cheques bounce (for which we pay charges).

What happens if I raise more than the cost of the placement?

Volunteers often find they are generously supported above and beyond the costs they require for their placement - a chance to thank God for His faithfulness.

If this is the case, we will use the funds to help continue Tearfund's work where the need is greatest, supporting communities all over the world.

We regret that we are unable to refund any funds in excess of placement costs.

Does Gift Aid count towards the cost of my placement?

The Gift Aid system allows Tearfund to reclaim the tax on a gift from a UK taxpayer and add it to the value of the gift. As it is a charitable gift, it cannot be used to benefit individuals – for example, for covering the cost of your placement or to help towards your fundraising target. However, your Gift Aid is massively important to the work of Tearfund and it is used in a variety of ways:

  • It covers the costs of providing you with a JustGiving page, which are passed onto Tearfund.
  • It covers extra expenses* that Tearfund incurs for the running of the programmes, which are not charged as part of the fees to participate. (*Extra expenses include costs of teams and systems that support and enable our work.)
  • It goes towards supporting people where the need is greatest all over the world.

Why can't Gift Aid go directly to my partner's work?

Tearfund invests in sending volunteers overseas because we believe that by making poverty personal, individuals return home committed to fighting injustice and the devastating effects of poverty for years to come.

Running our programmes and providing opportunities for volunteers to head overseas incurs costs for Tearfund, and to ensure that this is not negatively impacting the wider work of Tearfund, we channel the Gift Aid into ensuring that the greatest needs are met all over the world.

Travel advice - what to pack, flights, arrivals etc

Luggage

Make sure that all items of baggage are labelled with your UK and destination addresses. If any of your baggage goes missing, inform the airline immediately and ask them for a reference number. Whilst lost baggage is covered under Tearfund’s insurance policy, most airlines will pay compensation for this anyway.

Baggage allowance

Once you have booked your flights, check your baggage allowance; if this isn’t stated on your tickets, check on the airline’s website.

Arrival and departure

Arrive at the airport ready to check-in at least three hours before your flight. Any team members who are travelling on the same flight should check-in together; however, you are responsible for looking after your ticket, boarding cards and passport.

Keep a note of the physical address of the partner in your hand luggage, as you may have to fill in a disembarkation card on your arrival in country. If asked the reason for your visit, ensure you give the same reason as stated on your visa application.

On arrival, stay alert and don’t allow strangers to carry your luggage. Exchange some money into local currency before leaving the airport.

At some airports, you will be required to declare your foreign currency. If so, make sure that your currency card is properly stamped each time you make an exchange during your placement and that you have it handy for checking when you go back to the airport for your return journey. Some countries will not allow you to take their own currency out of the country, so make sure you check this before departure.

How do I raise support?

Local Church

The local church is at the heart of Tearfund’s work in fighting global poverty. You are part of this local church and you will be tapping into a local church in your destination country. You've already asked for support from your church by getting a reference from your church leader. You can build on this by asking your minister and church for prayer support. Some ideas are:

  • Prepare a prayer letter giving information about the project where you’ll be working and what you’ll be doing
  • Ask for a two-minute slot in a Sunday service to explain what the Global Volunteering Programme is about and why you're getting involved
  • Ask your church to commission you just before you leave for the orientation course and the actual placement - a slot in one of the services to pray for you will benefit everyone
  • Find one or two people that you can pray with more personally. Discuss the placement with them and be honest about your commitment, abilities and motives.
  • Whilst you're away people will want to know how you are getting on and how their prayers are being answered. A letter or emails to the church will also serve as a reminder to continue to pray for you.
  • Ask your church to support your family whilst you're away.
Local Media

What you are doing is interesting to your local press, such as your local newspaper or radio station. This is because you are a ‘local person’ choosing to spend your time in a very different way to most people. Just one article in your local newspaper or one interview on your local radio station reaches tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people. It’s not only a fantastic outreach opportunity but it can also encourage others thinking of doing a similar thing. And as if you needed any other reason, it’s also a great opportunity if you’re looking for help with sponsorship!

A press release is the standard way of sending information to the media. Send it off to your local newspaper and radio station. If you need any assistance, email our communications manager lucy.pieterse@tearfund.org. Once you’ve sent your press release, a journalist may want to know a bit more about you and your placement, so don’t forget to add your telephone number to the bottom of the press release. The local newspaper might want to come and take a picture of you or they might ask if you have any that you can email to them; a radio station might want you to go into the studio to interview you.

Follow up with another press release when you're home.

Fundraising

Fundraising can be carried out for the cost of your placement or for sending money to your partner project, and the latter can be done both before and after your placement.

I'm Overseas

Bible study guide

Coming soon!

What stories should I collect?

Coming soon!

I've Just Got Back

How can I continue to support Tearfund after seeing your work in-country?

Stay connected to those you met with a regular gift: Give Regularly

Debrief events

We think debriefs are essential. They provide you and your team with a way of processing an experience in a structured and constructive way.

It provides an opportunity for you to recap on everything you saw and experienced on your placement, whilst giving space to working out what might come next.

We aim to run group debrief sessions for all teams*. If you don't know the details of yours, please contact us to find out.

(*NB: We don’t not always run face-to-face debriefs, due to the teams generally being more time-pressured. If you would like to arrange a debrief or guidance on how to run one yourselves, please get in touch.)

Re-entry pack

Download link coming soon

Reverse culture shock

Resources that will help you to understand reverse culture shock are coming soon.

How do I share my stories?

Now that you're back you'll have a bunch of photos and memories to remind you of your placement.Make sure you share them! We can assure you that people will want to hear about your journey, and here are a few suggestions of where to start:

  • At church: Arrange to say a few words at the beginning of a service, or to lead a session at your home group. Talk about what you did, how you felt, and any ways in which the congregation can pray for the people you met and worked with.
  • Other local audiences: Is there a CU at your old school, or a room at work which you could use to give a presentation? Put together some photo slides and away you go.
  • The media: Send a press release or arrange an interview with your local paper/ radio station and grab the opportunity to provide your very own local interest story.
  • With us: We absolutely love hearing in more detail about your experience, and what's more it is really valuable for future volunteers to know what goes on. Email us an account of your placement, or even better volunteer for a future orientation to come and meet a prospective team. Just remember how useful you found it!

Feedback

Your feedback is essential to helping us get even better.

Don’t forget you can leave a review of your experience on next year’s placement page.