At SLV.Global we’re really keen to let you know where your money goes and why our placement fees are a necessary part of you having an enjoyable, safe experience.
Ethicality and affordability have always been incredibly important to us and we pride ourselves not only on the fact that our fees are some of the lowest in the sector, but also that we regularly receive outstanding feedback from participants about their time on placement.
As much as we value affordability, it can’t be at the expense of volunteer comfort or safety, so it’s a balance. When we first began, in 2010, support for our teams in Sri Lanka was primarily provided by local NYSC (National Youth Services Council) volunteers, who helped SLV.Global volunteers to projects and provided occasional support in the community. However, feedback throughout the years has dictated that this is not enough and we totally agree. We now provide 24-hour support for the health and safety of our teams. This increased support also ensures that we provide a more standardised experience for participants and that we are having a lasting, positive impact on the local community.
We now have international coordinators and supervisors who live with volunteers, as well as our incredible local and international in-country team who provide assistance on projects, on transportation and the day-to-day running of SLV.Global in India. We are lucky to have great organisations like the ODP who partner with us to provide accommodation and training rooms for some workshops, but this is not free and it shouldn’t be. We want to put money into organisations that support our aims to help increase the resources in India beyond what we can provide.
As an organisation we feel it's ethical and right that all of our in-country team be fairly compensated for what they do. Our local team work extremely hard from sun up to sun down, often doing things that are never seen by the volunteer team, but all their clandestine efforts contribute massively to a smoothly running placement. Not to mention the international team who work so hard to support volunteers at session planning, on projects and beyond.
In addition to our staff teams, we also employ various mental health professionals to provide workshops to our volunteer teams and our charity branch provides much needed funding for grassroots organisations working to improve mental health services in the countries where we work.
The below is an approximation of the breakdown of how placement fees are allocated. Each month expenditure varies, depending on the amount of volunteers there are in country. For example, when volunteer numbers are lower, the overheads in India are not met, but we are still paying for all aspects of the placement, just for far less individuals. However this is balanced out by money being carried over from the busier period, which keeps our team and projects being supported.
*As this is a pilot placement the fees may be adjusted in the future and will be assessed after the 2019 placements conclude.
+ In-Country Support
Our SLV.India team are always there to offer support and continue to cultivate the relationships we have with our projects and partners. Our amazing Indian team are all there with the sole purpose to support your work and to help you transition smoothly into Indian life.
Our SLV.India team organise all the training you receive and the safe transport to and from the airport, workshops and projects in addition to liaising with the ODP, overseeing the Adventure Break, helping ill volunteers on placement when they are in hospital and everything else behind the scenes that helps make SLV.Global run so well.
In addition to all of our local team members, there are also our international Volunteer Support team who are on call 24/7. These guys run the training days, employ logistics, manage risk assessments and health and safety and train the staff team, as well as ensuring volunteers have the most standardised experience possible. As this is a pilot placement we have double the amount of staff we would normally for a placement of this size, to make sure everyone is as supported as possible and that our relationships with projects starts off strong!
+ Accommodation, Food, Living Costs and Resources
We made the decision to house you at the School of Ancient Wisdom for your first few days on placement to get you used to the weather, the time difference and the food. This place is a real destination, and is an investment in your comfort.
We also work with local charities and NGOs to enrich an already culturally diverse experience. Again, contributing to the local economy is important to us and living like a local is all part of the experience. So although you might not have hot water and accommodation is basic, it's comparable to any average accommodation experience in Southern India. However, things like clean water and electricity are not standard in every South Indian home, which is why these amenities come with costs.
The delicious homemade food is all part of the experience too, but it's not just the food itself, which we always make sure is as fresh and delicious as possible, it's also fairly compensating the chefs, who work hard to feed so many people at once.
Living local is an important part of the SLV.Global experience and we hope you appreciate the reasons we chose to work with the ODP and that you enjoy the unique experience of living within such beautiful grounds, complete with wildlife and lush green foliage.
The farewell party is also included in this cost, as is the budget we give the management team for resources for you to use throughout your time on placement.
+ Training, Adventure Break, Workshops, Field Trip
As you know, your first week is dedicated to training. The costs you contribute towards go to covering all expenses of transporting you to workshops, the spaces we use and financially compensating facilitators and staff.
Your fees also cover all activities, food and transport on the Adventure Break. This break is essential for team bonding and it’s just a lot of fun. However, it’s worth mentioning that even getting to the jungle can be costly too. Just like in the UK, fuel prices fluctuate, but have actually increased in India.
All of our workshop facilitators are experts in their field and are taking time out of their ususal schedules to meet with you and educate you about practices in India. We are also the only international volunteers to ever be allowed in AIISH, whch is one of the top hospitals and research centres in India and one of the only outside groups to be able to visit the ashram at Art of Living. These experiences are hugely valueable to the overall experience of working abroad, which is why we are happy to pay for them.
This is the same for the field trip - all trsnsport and lunch is included not just for volunteers, but also for those kind enough to give up their time to show volunteers what working in mental health is like in India.
+ SLV.Global Mental Health Fund
The SLV.Global Mental Health Fund was created to help support initiatives that are working hard to increase mental health services for the local population. A portion of your placement fees goes to help grassroots organisations like the ODP and MYKAPS continue their work year round, so your impact can continue long after your placement concludes.
The public buses volunteers take daily still remain relatively inexpensive with the average journey costing 25p, but cost to fuel the minibuses and coaches that we use for airport pick up, getting to Mysore, field trips and the Adventure Break have almost doubled in the past three years. Ouch! We also have to fairly compensate the drivers for their hard work getting you from point A to B safely.
+ UK Head Office/Visa/Taxes/Insurance
We are here to answer any questions you might have pre-departure and to help you set off prepared for your placement. We're also here interviewing all the future volunteers to continue the projects you love, long after you leave. And of course a huge part of what we do is facilitating your visas! In fact, with the recent visa difficulty we had two members of staff working full time to try and get everyone the information and support they needed.
Taxes are a necessary part of life. As such, we need to pay them to be able to continue the work we do both in India and in the UK. We wish we didn't, but these running costs are standard for any functioning organisation as is proper insurance, which protects you abroad!
Every penny we spend is for the betterment of the organisation and volunteer experience. We hope you understand that your safety and experience, along with the benefit to the local community, is our number one priority.