The following Terms and Conditions together with the general information contained on our website form the basis of your agreement with Original Volunteers Limited. Please read them carefully as they set out our respective rights and obligations. By registering with us we are entitled to assume that you have had the opportunity to read and have read these terms and conditions and agree to them. A further reminder is included in almost every email sent from Original Volunteers.
In these terms and conditions:
“you”, “your” and “volunteer(s)” means all persons named on your registration form (including anyone who is added or substituted at a later date).
“we”, “us” and “our” means Original Volunteers.
“organisation(s)” means the organisations or charities for whom we advertise volunteer opportunities.
“placement(s)” refers to the volunteer opportunities we advertise on behalf of organisation(s).
We may change these terms at any time by posting changes online. Please review these terms regularly to ensure you are aware of any changes made by us. Your continued registration and/or use of our services after changes are posted means you agree to be legally bound by these terms as updated.
1. What Original Volunteers provide
We facilitate opportunities for independent individuals to volunteer with small organisations overseas which have requested a need for volunteers. By registering with us and paying a one off annual fee, called the registration fee, you can access our services and details of all the placements we have information on, the prices charged by the organisations for your participation in those placements. Project costs are separate and in addition to the registration fee.
2. What we do not provide
We offer experiences of volunteering in challenging environments and are most suited to the independent traveller. We will do our utmost within our capabilities to ensure everyone who has sent us flight details will be met if their project provides this and that a volunteering experience or cultural experience is available at some point during the visit.
Accommodation should not be considered comfortable due to the remoteness of projects or challenges of offering this in the regions concerned within the budgetary constraints of offering ‘affordable’ experiences for the student and budget market. We have no control over and cannot accept any responsibility for any such arrangements or services, (for example where we have passed on your flight details to the organisation on your behalf so that they can arrange airport pickups for you). Accommodation may cost the same elsewhere or for less although it must be borne in mind that the services of the local volunteer coordinator are included in the project costs whether you require additional assistance or not during your trip. It is the volunteer coordinator’s responsibility to make sure that you are provided with assistance when needed within reasonable situations, something which a hotelier elsewhere would likely not provide and certainly would not assist with liaising with local projects and charities on your behalf.
You are expected to make travel arrangements for projects not providing airport pick-ups and transfers independently using the Internet and travel guidebooks, especially when sourcing local travel information for your destination. Any advice given by us on travel to and between placements is provided at our discretion and on a goodwill basis only.
We cannot accept any liability for any inaccuracies in information obtained from third party web sites or travel forums which we pass on to you.
You must also accept and understand that we are not able to keep up to date with every arrangement and service currently being provided in or to each location as these change constantly. Please also see clause 17 “Our liability”.
If you cancel your registration with us within 7 days of registering and paying the first registration (called “the cooling off period”) 100% of the registration fee will be refunded to you no questions asked*. Registration fee in respect of cancellations made after the cooling off period has expired are non-refundable. Please note that your registration fee does not cover one or more specific volunteering trips but is instead the cost of your annual membership to the Original Volunteers volunteering scheme whether you decide to join a project or not, or have joined a project and have not been entirely satisfied. Cancellations made shortly after registering must be made in writing by e-mail or recorded delivery post (please keep receipt and tracking number as proof of postage) and received by Original Volunteers within 7 days of the date we received your registration payment. Please note that we are unable to accept cancellations of registration by telephone. *The cooling off period cancellation policy is not applicable to volunteers who have arrived at their first placement within 7 days from the date we received the initial registration fee.
All un-used project fees (such as accommodation) and other project specific fees which were paid directly to Original Volunteers with the exception of the Bulgaria programme are refundable. However, no refunds of unused accommodation can be made for time ‘spent away’ from your usual volunteer accommodation for a day or weekend. All fees of all types paid directly to projects (for example paid by bank or other transfers from you directly to your project destination or on arrival to local staff are non-refundable). For refunds of unused stays, please note time ‘spent on’ projects refers to the day of the airport pick-up and transfer where applicable which is when services begin NOT from the first day you start actively volunteering or arrive at your ‘place of volunteering’.
Because of the nature of volunteering and the need for support staff to assist volunteers at any time of day within their capabilities regarding all and random aspects of their visit, both within and outside of their natural remit, the accommodation costs also cover any the services of the team or project staff or volunteer coordinator. Moving to alternative accommodation and continuing your volunteering at the usual volunteering locations does not constitute a refund of accommodation due to the services of the local team which are still usually continuing and available should you require them even if you do not use their services.
No refunds can be made of missed or cancelled airport pick-ups unless the local coordinators were aware with reasonable notice to cancel the pick-up request (proof of communication will be required) and therefore, no driver was sent to meet you.
4. Unused services
Once the cooling off period has expired there will be no refund of the initial registration fee for any reason whatsoever (this includes voluntary or involuntary termination of a placement, i.e. sickness, lack of personal funds to complete trip or placement, voluntary or involuntary change of itinerary, pregnancy, death of a family member etc).
All unused project accommodation fees which were paid directly to Original Volunteers in the UK are refundable with the exception of the Bulgaria volunteering programme. Because of the flexibility we offer to volunteers moving on and claiming their unused back unlike other operators, we do need to charge a £5 administration fee which will be taken off the remaining refund owing. For international refund payments, a further £15 is charged as this is what our UK bank Lloyds charges us to make an international transfer. This standard charge can be verified by contacting our UK bank Lloyds. In addition there may be charges by your bank which we cannot be liable for. Before any refund is made confirmation will be required from the project staff and reasonable deductions will be made for repairs, decoration or cleaning required following your use of the accommodation or other project resources. No refunds will be made for time spent away from the programme you are currently on, even if this was a day or weekend etc spent away whilst still officially at your project (for example, where you have left luggage to collect before departure). All fees of all types paid directly to projects (not to Original Volunteers) whether in advance or on arrival are non-refundable, this is because we will not have your funds to be able to refund you.
No refunds can be made of missed or cancelled airport pick-ups unless the local coordinators were aware with reasonable notice to cancel the pick-up request (proof of communication will be required) and therefore, no driver was sent to meet you. If there are last minute changes it is the volunteer’s responsibility to make contact with the local co-ordinator and their team using all communication methods to cancel or re-arrange the pick up.
5. Changes or cancellation of a placement due to changes
You appreciate and acknowledge that the nature of this type of travel requires considerable flexibility and should allow for alternatives. In the same way that most volunteering in the UK or in the volunteer’s home country does not guarantee hours, specific tasks or specific locations in advance of the start day; volunteering in developing countries can neither guarantee placements before the volunteer’s arrival.
Where a request has been made for a specific type of volunteering, alternatives or the usual programme may have to be relied on in the event that the request could not be arranged at the time of your visit. Many volunteers book many months, or years in advance and it is not possible to guarantee project specifics.
Requests for specific placement-types will be honoured wherever this is practically possible bearing in mind that there can be greater challenges in developing countries than at home . You accept that because of this, working hours, accommodation, services and placements offered may be subject to alteration or cancelled (sometimes without prior notice) due to local circumstances or events, which may include strikes, projects no longer considered suitable for volunteers, events emanating from political disputes, sudden closure of local projects/charities, accommodation changes due to volunteer numbers or expiration of leases, over subscription for popular projects especially in the holiday periods, local management and other institution changes which prevent volunteers from participating, climate and other unpredictable or unforeseen circumstances. Wherever possible the coordinators will endeavour to find an offer an alternative position and you are encouraged to accept and try the alternative to get the most out of the experience. We cannot therefore accept any responsibility if your placement is cancelled or significantly changed.
If we are informed by the local coordinators before you travel about a significant change then we may contact you about this. Definitions of what a ‘significant change’ is can vary significantly and this should not be relied on. Original Volunteers considers a significant change to be, as an example, animal work no longer available at your destination where a request for animal work has been requested at the time of booking. If we are aware we will endeavour to contact you by email before travel.
However we cannot accept liability for non-receipt of updates where an update has been sent by us, untimely updates or no update where we have not been informed by your project. Often local overseas staff will try to arrange special placements right up to the moment of departure so it would not be practical to say that a placement is no longer available when in due course after arrival it will be. If in doubt, we recommend contacting your project/coordinator directly as close to travel as possible for updates on placements available so that you can prepare yourself. Contact details for your project are usually sent when all documents have been received and project fees, where applicable paid.
Important: A significant change does not apply to changes of placements where volunteers had requested to be working with children and young adults whether in care, outreach, community, educational settings or schools and will, following the change still have opportunities to work with children or young adults. It must be appreciated that healthcare placements require the time, dedication and discretion of local health professionals to offer their time to mentor or shadow or quickly train their casual short stay volunteer and cannot be guaranteed. If in doubt, we recommend contacting your project/coordinator directly as close to travel as possible for updates on placements available so that you can prepare yourself.
We regret however that we cannot accept any responsibility for any expenses costs losses or compensation that you incur or request as a result of any cancellation or significant change (for example visa costs, materials purchased for your previous placement type, non-refundable flight costs, transport costs to a new placement and any charges associated with a new placement, pre-paid payments, vaccinations or loss of enjoyment).
You will not be entitled to a refund of your registration fee in the event of your placement being cancelled or significantly changed. This includes cancelling before travel where we have informed you of a change, where the coordinators have informed you about a change, general concern about changes at your future project or after arrival at your project where a change has occured.
6. Prices and placement details
Prices and placement details quoted on our website or elsewhere are based on those provided by organisers. Prices and placement details are believed to be correct as of May 2012 although changes and errors do sometimes occur. We cannot accept any liability for any changes, errors or inaccuracies except where these are due to our own negligence. Where we become aware of a change, error or inaccuracy and this affects your project siginificantly, we will endeavour advise you as soon as possible (please refer to above 5. Changes and cancellation of a placement due to changes).
The most likely cause for price increases will be local inflation or local price increases to cover basic costs. Price increases and local inflation are out of our control volunteers heading to multiple placements over an extended period of time (ie registering in 2011 for a 2013 trip which finishes in 2014) should be aware that local prices will go up and you accept that you will need to pay any difference which later becomes apparent in order to take part on and continue with the placement. However there is no obligation to continue with the placement. You are reminded that the weekly prices are in any case kept as low as possible when compared with similar programmes offered by our competitors.
Please note that placement and other details and descriptions may often be subjective. Services such as accommodation, meals etc will be of a considerably lower quality or standard than what you will be used to. Accommodation offered at many projects is of the ‘shared student house’ variety and as such do not generally offer hostel/hotel facilities. Where extra facilities are offered (such as lockers, night security, kitchen facilities) these can not be relied on and for this reason are not advertised. Health and safety standards (if any) in the country or region in which you are doing your placement are considerably lower than the UK. Rats, insects, mosquitos and general normal levels of disrepair and water shortages are common. Rubbish will be seen in abundance, poverty and the threat of crime will be higher than at home. If you require further information regarding a placement or facilities, (for example relating to matters such as the work you will be required to do, location and standard of accommodation and meals (if provided) or general health and safety advice etc you must request this from the coordinator or organisation concerned directly. Contact details are provided closer to travel once all documents and applicable fees have been paid (where groups/friends travel, all documents and fees for all parties will be required). If there is a specific need or health concern at the early stages this should be communicated to us so we can recommend a suitable project best suited to your requirements.
Because of the nature of volunteering and the vulnerabilities of the people and communities lived and worked amongst (including other volunteers you may be sharing accommodation with), we reserve the right to refuse applications and/or registrations from volunteers or prospective volunteers whom we consider unsuitable. Local staff and accommodation hosts may also terminate the placement at any time of any volunteer and/or their stay at any accommodation who appears to be a risk to himself/herself and those they are volunteering for or who is bringing the organisation they are working for, their coordinator or Original Volunteers into serious disrepute (this could include aggressive or intimidating behaviour towards children/fellow volunteers and local people, delayed volunteer contributions where applicable, slanderous comments about the institutions they are volunteering for, no regular volunteering presence, disruption of other people’s enjoyment, suspicion of any child related protection issue whether of a safety/sexual/bullying nature, lewd behaviour, alcoholism affecting their placement or those around them etc).
It is also at the discretion of local staff and accommodation hosts to continue hosting volunteers who are not actively volunteering where opportunities have been made available to do so, especially when space is limited in the summer months. Furthermore, because the nature of most volunteering involves working with vulnerable children and young adults your project coordinator, if concerned, may alert Original Volunteers that volunteering at future similar projects is not recommended. It will be at the discretion of other projects should they accept at any future placements should any of the above or similar occur. Also, we will not enter into discussion once a decision has been made by local staff. We cannot accept any responsibility in the event that your placement and/or stay at any accommodation is terminated as set out above. No refunds of any kind (including your registration fee and payments made to the organisation concerned) will be payable. Furthermore we will not accept any responsibility for any expenses, costs or losses of any nature that you may have incurred or incur as a result of a placement or stay at any accommodation being terminated as set out above (including any return or onward travel expenses.).
It is the responsibility of all volunteers to inform their local volunteer coordinator if they are concerned about any other volunteer’s behaviour where they are placing themselves or those around them at risk and it is felt that the coordinator should be aware in the case that they are not.
8. Transfer to another placement
A transfer is usually possible but only if approved by us in advance. Due to the nature of volunteering, especially regarding children and young adults and living alongside other volunteers, alternative placements will not be offered to volunteers whose behaviour is considered unsuitable.
9. Acceptance of risk
You accept that the nature of volunteering in developing countries is adventurous and involves a significant amount of personal inherent risk. You also acknowledge that there will be limited on site support at most locations, health services may be basic or lacking, training on placements will be lacking or informal at best and the safety standards of local accommodation and transport will be considered haphazard at best and considerably lower than European standards.
10. Minor emergencies
Although a contact person is usually available for advice on emergencies, sickness and crime, when not present or immediately available, you accept responsibility for managing immediate arrangements by yourself (ie by contacting your insurance providers, taking a taxi to hospital or reporting a crime to the local police). You must ensure that you have adequate travel insurance to meet such eventualities and adequate funds to cover consultations for minor health complaints (such as a quick check-up) where insurance may not be applicable. Ifyou are in doubt regarding the type of cover you have and how to make arrangements abroad should you require assistance from your insurers, you should consult your insurance policy before travel and call your insurers for advice.
11. Authority at placements
At all times the decision of the local coordinator or staff where you are volunteering will be final on all matters likely to endanger the safety and well being of all at the volunteer’s placement. You agree to abide by the authority of the local coordinator and local staff in all matters. You must also at all times strictly comply with the laws, customs, foreign exchange and drug regulations of the country(ies) you are visiting. If you are affected by any condition medical or otherwise that might affect other people’s enjoyment of their volunteering placement; you must advise us at the time you apply for your placement/s. Should you fail to comply with the above or commit any illegal act when volunteering or during your free time whilst volunteering or if in the opinion of local staff, or the coordinator your behaviour is causing or is likely to cause danger, distress or annoyance to others we and/or the organistion concerned may terminate your registration or placement arrangements. We and the organisation concerned cannot accept any responsibility in the event that your placement and/or stay at any accommodation is terminated as set out above. No refunds of any kind (including your registration fee) will be payable. For any payments made to projects in advance it is at their discretion whether refunds for accommodation/services are payable. Furthermore we and the organisation will not accept any responsibility for any expenses, costs or losses of any nature that you may have incurred or incur as a result of a placement or stay at any accommodation being terminated as set out above (including any return or onward travel expenses).
12. Travel documents
You must be in possession of a valid passport for entry to the country or countries which you are intending to travel to or through for your placement(s). Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your return date. You are also responsible for obtaining all required visas, permits and certificates including vaccination certificates, insurance policies, which are required for the whole of your journey/stay/placement (for example volunteer/work permits and/or visas). You accept full responsibility for obtaining all such documents visas and permits etc and are solely responsible for any adverse consequences resulting from missing or effective documentation. Any information or advice given by us regarding visas, vaccinations, climate, clothing, special equipment, etc. is provided as a courtesy to you. We cannot accept any responsibility for any errors or omissions as to the information provided. Please note requirements as to travel documents do change. You must check the up to date requirements with the embassy of the countries you are travelling to or through. We cannot accept any responsibility or offer a refund of the registration fee of £145 if you cannot travel due to not obtaining the correct documentation or are refused admittance to any country due to not having the correct documentation.
13. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Travel advisories
If the FCO (www.fco.gov.uk) advises against all or non-essential travel to a country or area you will be entitled to withdraw from any placement(s) affected by such advice or we may decide to cancel or withdraw such placements. In this case we will offer an alternative placement (if available). The registration fee is non-refundable. Except as set out above we are not responsible for any expenses, costs, losses or compensation of any nature whatsoever that you may incur or request as a result of cancellation or withdrawal from or of a placement following such advice from the FCO.
We will apply a common sense approach when considering cancelling /withdrawing placements following advice from the FCO. We will also seek advice from the relevant British Embassy in that country. For example if we have information that advice is likely to be downgraded shortly we may delay the offer of an alternative placement. If you decide to travel against the FCO and/or our advice you should be aware that this may affect your insurance cover, services (including the offer of a placement/accommodation and local discretionary services for volunteers may not be guaranteed or available on arrival). You may also face a much greater level of risk to your personal safety.
14. Factors outside the company’s control (force majeure)
Compensation and refunds will not be made for any change or cancellation caused by war or threat of war, insurrection, riots, strikes, civil action, decisions by governments or governing authority, natural disaster, bad weather, technical or maintenance problems with transport, changes of schedules or operational decisions of over transport, changes of schedules or operational decisions of overseas institution directors or similar circumstances beyond our control. For the purpose of this contract we define the above as force majeure.14 Factors outside the company’s control (force majeure)
15. Your responsibilities
By volunteering using the services of Original Volunteers you understand that you are not arriving on a packaged volunteering holiday but that you are a committed and self motivated independent volunteer. Don’t leave your common sense at home and rely on others to ‘look after you’. All volunteers are required to insure they are adequately covered with travel insurance to cover medical costs and repatriation in the event of an accident or emergency. Volunteers with worried family at home must make sure their family are aware that we do not have the time or resources to liase with overseas staff on matters such as homesickness or culture shock (please see Complaints and Problems below). You understand that the more you put in to your stay the bigger the impact you will have and the better your personal experience will be. You should be aware that because of culture shock you should give yourself time to settle in, acclimatise and get to know your surroundings. It is acceptable to leave a project at any time if you feel it is simply not for you. You must ensure you have all the relevant travel documents, full passport, the required visas, vaccination certificates, currency and access to sufficient personal funds. Passport, visa and health requirements can and do change and you must check the up to date requirements in good time before departure. We cannot accept any responsibility if you are refused admittance to any country due to not having the correct documentation. We will accept no responsibility for claims for theft from accommodation which has been provided for you during your placement or where baggage and belongings are in the care of local representatives or carriers, whilst in transit or otherwise. We will accept no responsibility for excursions or activities arranged through local agents or tour operators in the destination as we do not organise these and this is organised and paid for by you at your host country. Use your common sense to decide whether food is edible and safe to eat. Use your common sense to decide whether your safety is at risk by the activities and things you do during your placement whether whilst volunteering or during your free time. You must ensure that any privately-owned equipment and accommodation is adequately serviced and maintained e.g. bicycles. You must wear safety equipment such as life vests or helmets where provided or ask for these to be provided where these are not offered. You must ensure that privately owned safety equipment is in good order, looked after and secured when not in use. You undertake not to volunteer under the influence of drink or drugs and not to smoke in front of children, vulnerable adults or in enclosed spaces where it can affect other people. There may be rules in place regarding the use of alcohol or restrictions regarding entry to accommodation and curfews and you agree to abide by the rules of the project during your visit. Volunteers with visible tattoos or facial/body piercings are required to cover or remove these wherever possible whilst volunteering or when asked to do so. Failure to conceal when requested may result in the volunteering aspect of your experience being cancelled.
16. Problems or complaints
If you have a problem during your placement it is a requirement of our terms and conditions that you communicate this to the coordinator or local staff at your destination. In most cases matters can be quickly resolved locally within a day or two. We are unable to enter into a discussion with local staff on behalf of a volunteer where a third party (ie family member) has contacted us unless the volunteer is physically unable to contact us (ie because of health reasons). If you consider the complaint or problem requires further attention and cannot be resolved locally it is your responsibility and a requirement of booking with Original Volunteers to alert us. We will acknowledge, investigate and reply as soon as possible. However, please allow for the fact that we have to deal with developing countries and delays of several days or weeks are not uncommon. You also acknowledge that we have limited power of advocacy on behalf of a volunteer. Please note that as your volunteering placement is a matter between you and the organisation alone which depends on the main part of the individual volunteer’s attitude and commitment to get involved in a positive manner, in all cases any assistance provided by us or communication to your project on your behalf is provided on a goodwill basis only. As an independent volunteer you are entitled to leave a project if matters cannot be resolved to your satisfaction. We cannot however accept any responsibility for any expenses costs losses or compensation of any nature whatsoever that you may have incurred or request as a result of leaving a placement early because of unresolved issues or problems.
Where weekly project fees have not been paid to Original Volunteers the following applies: we are not a tour or package holiday operator. Accordingly, where weekly project fees have not been paid, we do not sell or offer for sale any “packages” or act as an “organiser” within the meaning of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 (“the Regulations”) and the Regulations do not apply to the services we provide.
Except as otherwise set out in these terms and conditions we have no control over and cannot accept any liability for the acts or omissions of the organisation(s) whose placement(s) we advertise, the placements themselves or any additional services or arrangements (such as transport or accommodation) which any organisation or other service provider makes for you. For all placements your contract for that placement is directly between you and the organisations concerned. For all other services (such as transport and accommodation) your contract for that service is with the service provider or organisation concerned (as applicable.) We are not a party to placement contracts or contracts for other services and cannot accept any liability in respect of these. We cannot accept any liability for the acts or omissions of any volunteers, whether they found their placement via us or otherwise.
Our maximum liability to you if we are found to have been at fault in relation to any service we provide (as opposed to any service provided by any organisation or other service provider for whom we are not responsible) is limited to the registration fee you have paid to us. We do not exclude or limit any liability for death or personal injury which arises as a result of our negligence or that our employees whilst acting in the course of their employment.
You and we both agree that English Law (and no other) will apply to your agreement with us and to any dispute, claim or other matter of any description which arises between us (except as set out below). We both also agree that any dispute, claim or other matter of any description which arises between us must be dealt with by the Courts of England and Wales only unless, in the case of Court proceedings, you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland. In this case, proceedings must either be brought in the Courts of your home country or those of England and Wales. If proceedings are brought in Scotland or Northern Ireland, you may choose to have your agreement and any dispute, claim or other matter of any description which arises between us governed by the law of Scotland/Northern Ireland as applicable (but if you do not so choose, English law will apply).