Brief Description of Organisation
SLV.Global is a mental health organisation that has been sending students and graduates overseas since 2010. Our placements are designed to provide valuable work experience in the mental health sector as well as promoting positive mental health within the communities where we work.
To give you a bit more information about what our Mental Health placements entail, we’ve compiled this list of frequently asked questions for parents and guardians. We’re always available to speak to you, but would prefer to liaise with the individual taking part in the placement to avoid any confusion and promote the clear communication, which is essential for anyone joining us on the team.
What will they be doing?
We’ve been working in Sri Lanka for the past eight years to promote positive mental health by bolstering the resources and, as much as possible, by boosting confidence, self-esteem and improving key life skills. We know prevention is better, and far easier to facilitate, than cure.
The first week of the placement is dedicated to increasing volunteers’ knowledge and confidence so they’re ready to plan and run effective activities at their projects. They will be given advice on how to work at various projects, from working with children, to working with people with specific needs and will be learning about Sri Lanka’s culture and language.
From the second week onward, volunteers work at a minimum of six different weekly projects throughout the duration of their placement. These vary from psychiatric facilities to makeshift classrooms in temples - our projects are diverse and the service users volunteers will be working with are of various ages, abilities and backgrounds.
Where will they be working?
We work in four areas in the south of the Colombo District of Sri Lanka. All areas have support staff living in the homestays, as well as an Operations Manager who visits each area weekly. It’s important to us that our volunteers are supported throughout their placement.
Where will they be living?
During the working week, every volunteer lives in a home with a Sri Lankan family as well as with other volunteers. Some families have children or grandparents in residence and others may be smaller families. The biggest homestay we have houses 15 volunteers and the smallest just 6. We never oversell our placements, so everyone has personal space as well as a single bed in a shared bedroom, with a shared bathroom.
What's communication like?
Sri Lanka, though still developing, is quite technologically advanced. Although there is no Wi-Fi in the homestay, 3G is widely available and fairly reliable. All volunteers will be required to purchase a local SIM card to keep in touch with the SLV.Sri Lanka team during their placement. Internet cafes are also readily available within the community, and volunteers will likely find Wi-Fi while travelling at weekends.
Is it safe?
Our volunteers’ safety is our top priority and we have excellent exit strategies in place should anything occur. We would never place our volunteers in a position where we felt their safety might be compromised. We also always recommend checking the Foreign Travel Office for the most up to date information about travel before the placement is set to begin.
Volunteers are never scheduled to travel alone during the week and should not be doing so at the weekend either. We are on the other end of the phone 24/7, should any incident occur and we will provide the best support we can. Volunteers have the numbers of all local police and are advised to be mindful of their surroundings, especially after dark.
Why does it cost to volunteer?
As much as we would love to provide participants with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience within global mental health and fully immerse themselves in a new, vibrant culture, free of charge - we can’t.
The fees cover the accommodation, food, training, support, and transport available to volunteers while on placement. We also feel it is important to financially support the lovely SLV.Sri Lanka permanent team who supports each volunteer throughout their placement.
We believe in providing a safe, comfortable and ethical experience for volunteers. We are confident that the experience we provide, is second to none.
Can you visit?
Of course you can visit Sri Lanka while your loved one is on placement. However, please be advised that our volunteers are extremely busy during the week and cannot travel alone.
If you want to see your loved one, the best time to do this is at the weekend, and they will need to be home by 9:30pm on Sunday. This curfew is explicit, as are the reasons we don’t approve of volunteers travelling alone, so please respect these rules and help us by upholding them.
What if they get sick?
Sri Lanka’s hospitals and doctors are excellent. We always take ill volunteers to doctors who speak English, so we can easily communicate and get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Volunteers need to take out their own travel insurance for the duration of their placement to cover them should they injure themselves or become ill.
What support is available?
From the time they are picked up at the airport to the end of their placement we have a great support system in place. There are Peer Mentors and Supervisors who live with volunteers and provide day-to-day support. The permanent SLV.Sri Lanka team are also around to help volunteers to projects and get to grips with the culture. Management is always just a phone call away and the London office are also in contact throughout their placement.
What will they get?
This is very much about the volunteer. If they put everything in to their time with us they’ll get a greater understanding of cross-cultural relations, they’ll have gained valuable hands-on work experience in their chosen field of study, and they’ll have made a few friends and lots of lifetime memories. They’ll also be awarded with a certificate of participation and a reference from us upon successful completion of their placement.
We deliver what we promise, but you don’t have to take our word for it - check out over 600 reviews on our Facebook page alone.
We have always welcomed our volunteers’ feedback, which has allowed us to grow and improve over the years to help maintain and ensure our participants’ safety and optimise their experience. As such we are proud to have been rated among the Top Volunteer Abroad Programs in 2017 on GoAbroad.