Placement Timetables

Upon arriving in Sri Lanka, you’ll find your individual placement timetable in a tote bag on your bed. This has been designed especially for you and your projects will run from Monday to Friday and repeat on a weekly basis. Your projects will depend upon your placement (e.g. Mental Health or Level 1 Mental Health), however everyone’s timetable will involve a minimum of 5 different projects, including Mental Health projects, youth teaching and working with people with special needs.. Always keep your timetable with you, there’s a lot to keep track of! 

On placement, Monday mornings are put aside for project and lesson planning. You can share your planning with the other volunteers on your projects. Friday mornings are your last project of the week. The weekends are then free for you to explore the island, you could even find yourself chilling on the beach by late Friday afternoon. It is also a chance for your homestay to relax and spend time with their families, so the homestay accommodation is not available at the weekends. Just make sure you’re back in your homestay for 9:30 pm Sunday evening. 

An average day in Sri Lanka is hard to describe, as each is so different. Listen to past volunteers have a go here.

Types of Projects

Whatever placement you join, you’ll be able to share and develop your skills working across a variety of projects with a wide range of people from the local community, of all ages and backgrounds. Here’s the type of projects all volunteers will be getting involved in:

Children’s Projects

We work with schools, after school clubs and children’s development centres delivering fun, English based activity sessions. The aim is to provide exposure to English, and the opportunity to gain confidence in interacting with people from other cultures. Games, songs, dance and physical activity are a great way to engage the children and to get them interacting with you and each other. Watch this video to hear SLV.Global Penny’s tips about what goes on in Children’s projects.

Youth Teaching

You’ll be facilitating fun, informal activities to help students practise their spoken English and listening. Your students could be on vocational courses, studying anything from Hairdressing to Air Conditioning, or be people from the local community coming after school or work to learn English with you. Many students will value this opportunity and be keen to practise English that they can use in job interviews and applications. Using role plays, competitions and ice breakers are useful ways to help your students relax and boost their confidence in using English. Still a bit unsure? Check out this video where SLV.Global’s Penny shares her experience on Youth Teaching projects.

SLV teaching

SLV Special-Needs-Work-

Special Needs Projects

Our Special Needs Projects take place in schools, residential centres and drop in centres. You’ll be working with children and adults who may have physical disabilities, learning difficulties, or challenging behaviour. Creative activities such as arts and crafts, music, dance and games are a great way to develop their cognitive functions, motor skills and speech skills, as well as provide stimulation to the service users. So get your inventive hats on and be prepared to get covered in glitter or tire yourself out dancing the Macarena.

Mental Health Projects

We work in a variety of settings from psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitation centres and community outreach programs. You will have one full day working with service users at varying stages of their recovery. Not everyone will work at the same facilities, as that’s impossible, but you’ll be able to use your skills and experience to run different therapeutic activities with inpatients or outpatients in the local community. These facilities will most likely be different to what you may have seen in the west, so please keep an open mind and remember that we are there to help provide stimulation, not run interventions, as most volunteers are not qualified and won’t speak the language. Get creative and try to focus on the person, not the person’s condition. You can watch this video here where Clinical Psychologist Laura talks about this placement form her perspective.

Field Trips & Psychology Work Experience Workshops

Volunteers on this project will be invited on mental health field trips and take part in two workshops led by mental health workers. Samutthana also run optional evening workshops for volunteers at an additional cost of around £5 per workshop. 

Mental Health Placement

This placement features one day a week working in a psychiatric or community mental health setting. The rest of your timetable will be divided between projects involving youth teaching, children’s teaching and working with people with special needs. You’ll definitely be kept busy! Here previous and current volunteers and managers tell you a bit more about this placement.  

As mentioned, the mental health services in Sri Lanka may be quite different to those provided in your home country. Watch this video to hear a Clinical Psychologist, Laura, talk about her view on the services SLV.Global provide to the Sri Lanka community on our Mental Health Placements.

Sample Mental Health Placement Weekly Timetable

Morning Afternoon
Monday Session Planning Special Needs Work
Tuesday Psychiatric Unit Mental Health Care Home
Wednesday Special Needs Work Children's Development
Thursday English for Development English for Development
Friday Children's Development Go Travelling
SLV Mental Health

Graduate Mental Health

The weekly timetable for the Graduate Mental Health placement has the same balance of projects as on the Mental Health Placement. However this placement involves an extra field trip and extra workshop. There is also a debriefing session with mental health professionals at the end of your placement where you can explore the work you've been doing more deeply. 

Sample Graduate Mental Health Placement Weekly Timetable

Morning Afternoon
Monday Session Planning Special Needs Work
Tuesday Psychiatric Unit Mental Health Care Home
Wednesday Special Needs Work Children's Development
Thursday English for Development English for Development
Friday Children's Development Go Travelling

Level One Mental Health Placement

This placement is for individuals who have less hands-on experience, but a good working knowledge of psychology. This placement is very similar to the above placements and has the same balance of projects as on the Mental Health Placement, but working with service users further along in their recovery.

Sample Level One Mental Health Placement Timetable

Morning Afternoon
Monday Session Planning Special Needs Work
Tuesday Psychiatric Unit Mental Health Care Home
Wednesday Special Needs Work Children's Development
Thursday English for Development English for Development
Friday Children's Development Go Travelling

Project Cancellations

Unfortunately, not all things in life are predictable, and that can sometimes include your projects in Sri Lanka. Whilst SLV.Global take every effort to ensure that projects run on a regular basis, sometimes last minute cancellations which are out of our control mean that we have to find an alternative project for you to attend that week. For this reason, we value flexibility in our volunteers and an openness to jumping into last minute project changes. 

Sometimes, something as simple as heavy rain can lead to a project being cancelled if the service users have to travel a long way to attend. ‘Tea parties’ (donations of food from the local community) at children’s projects are also an occasional occurrence, which may take focus from your activities. 

Things like a bus strike wouldn’t really affect things in the west, but in Sri Lanka, often the country can grind to a halt and we need to roll with it. Try not to get annoyed or frustrated, it’s just the way things are sometimes and the sooner you adopt an easygoing Sri Lankan attitude to interruptions, the better. 

Field trips are also changeable and although we do our best to standardise everyone’s experience, we can’t standardise everything. You may be working with a different mental health professional to your friend who is on the same placement. Or someone may be ill, forcing the field trip to be postponed or held with more volunteers than were originally planned to attend. This is totally beyond our control and we appreciate your understanding.


Of course we understand that getting sick happens, and it’s not fun for everyone, but please be courteous and let your peer mentor know as soon as possible so that they can arrange cover for you. We’ll get you the treatment you need, whether it’s from a pharmacist, a doctor or going to the hospital, but please do inform us and don’t suffer in silence. We’re here to help and get you back fighting fit.

Public Holidays

Sri Lanka has many public holidays and you may have a few during your placement. Usually projects are cancelled on these days, as the service users will be engaged in their own celebrations. For example, Poya Days are celebrated each month on the full moon. These days are set aside for worship, so projects will be cancelled. 

Again, this is something we can’t change, nor would we want to. Participating in the local customs is all part of the awesomeness of volunteering abroad. To see if any holidays fall on days you’re on placement with us you can check the calendar here

Taking Leave from Projects

Your timetable has been designed to ensure that you have an opportunity to take part in a variety of projects and cannot be changed. Some projects you may love, some you may find more challenging, but we’re all here to get involved and commit to a full week of work.

Volunteers cannot take leave for travel or other personal commitments. We plan timetables so that volunteers are never working or travelling alone, and choosing not to attend a project may result in it being cancelled that week, which will in turn affect the work we are ultimately able to do. 

Please bear this in mind when making plans for parents or partners to visit you. You will only be able to see them at the weekend and we will not be able to make an exception. If you choose to be absent from your projects you will be removed from the team with immediate effect. 

Remember, this placement will be difficult at times and it’s not a holiday, so we expect you to conduct yourself as if you were at work, not on Spring Break.