International Volunteers


Tom is a mechanical engineer, retired recently. Very fit and active, he can turn his hand to mending all sorts of things; he’s keen to help and very willing to pass on his skills. A quiet man and a gentle listener, he is well known as an encourager. Ruth his wife trained as a nurse originally but has been working mainly as a foster carer in recent years. She specialises in children with special needs. They went once to Kenya on holiday and loved it, especially the friendly welcoming people. Although they don’t want to be away from their family for too long, they would be happy to spend a couple of months away, and hope it might lead to further involvement over the next few years.


Becky is a physio who loves working with children. She often finds herself in a team leader role in her NHS hospital which she enjoys, but she’s looking for a break and would love a chance to get ‘back to basics’. She’s happy to be volunteering with someone else as she’s never been outside Europe before but is greatly looking forward to the challenge. Arranging a sabbatical had to be done quite a long time in advance, but it’s all planned now. Last weekend at her orientation session she met Georgina, a health visitor, who will accompany her for 3 months. They discovered they have a shared interest in both jogging and gospel music! On their placement they’ll share a little flat and work with a local team helping vulnerable children in the community. Most of the children are orphans, some have disabilities and the project’s resources are limited.


Clarence was born in the West Indies and has always been fascinated by his African heritage. A builder and plumber by trade, he is planning to go out for a few weeks to help rig up a rain water harvesting system – putting gutters up on several large school classroom roofs, and building a large above-ground concrete storage tank. He’s been talking to friends at church about it and they have enthusiastically raised money to help. With his wife’s encouragement, John is going with him too (although they haven’t met yet). A mature student of furniture restoration and a keen photographer, he spent years working in the prison service, where he helped set up a woodworking training workshop. If work pressures allow, Margaret hopes to go out with him next time. Clarence’s daughter Alice is excited to know all about it, but regrets she isn’t old enough to volunteer yet.


Bill has been teaching carpentry for years at the local tech. Coming up to retirement, now he’d love to go out and teach in the tropics for a couple of years, but he’s not sure he would cope with the heat. He’d like to try it for a month first and see how he gets on. Mary his wife is looking forward to the adventure too. She says she hasn’t got any skills, but she is very keen on art and needlework, and has learned over the years how to repair her old sewing machine. For a long time she used to run an after-school kids art club. Her friend Andrea might go out with them. She works in the library and loves reading stories to children. Other people are fascinated by how she can play music on all sorts of funny musical instruments!


Who can volunteer?

HATW volunteers come from all walks of life.

Click through the names on the left for examples of typical volunteers – each one is a perfect HATW volunteer, and each in a different way!

Scroll right down this page to ‘Tell me more!’ and ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ for details of how to volunteer with us.

For more details about volunteering on a particular project, please email or ring 01600 740317. 

Earnest Interaction!

Earnest Interaction!

Some opportunities for short-term (3 weeks to 3 months) volunteers are:

  • Teachers, classroom assistants, people with art, music, circus, dance and/or drama experience, youth workers etc to lead a holiday club in Zambia in July / August.
  • Labourers to help build classrooms at rural schools in Rwanda, India and Zambia.
  • Physios, OTs, Special Needs Teachers and others with experience of managing children with Special Needs, for a disability centre and special school in Kenya.
  • TEFL teachers for mentoring teachers, also teaching English to adults and children in Rwanda.
  • Trained teachers willing to help / encourage / mentor untrained teachers in various locations.
  • Other volunteers are also always in demand – if you are interested in the possibility of volunteering with us, PLEASE ASK!

For more information, please ring 01600 740317 or email

Tell me more…!

Always needed

HANDS AROUND THE WORLD’s volunteers are encouragers and skill-sharers sent overseas in response to needs expressed to us.

They will normally be working alongside a local person, need to have a mature and sensitive attitude and be keen to discuss but also listen.

Click through the links above to find out more!


Our kind of volunteer
  • The kind of volunteers we are often able to place include, amongst others: people with foster caring experience, those with an interest in building and construction, classroom assistants, primary/junior teachers, occupational and physiotherapists.
  • Please note, we are looking for all sorts of volunteers, so do not be put off if your particular skills are not mentioned in our ‘most wanted’ list!


  • Our volunteers go for short-term placements (minimum 3 weeks, but sometimes longer, up to 3 or even 6 months) in Africa and India.
  • Boundless enthusiasm and a sense of humour are essential and the ability to cope with basic accommodation and creepy crawlies is usually required! Volunteers are unpaid and will normally go in twos and threes. Couples will be considered, volunteering together. We have so far sent over 450 volunteers since 1994, mostly to sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Volunteers are asked to pay £250 when accepting a placement, and then contribute a further £1250 each. (Don’t be scared, we can help you fundraise – it not difficult with the help of friends!) This money covers the cost of flights and insurance; any additional funds you might raise will go to support the work of centre you visit.
  • Accommodation is provided by the hosts, normally with little or no charge, but you will need to consider the cost of immunisation jabs, anti-malarial tablets and food in your calculations.
  • Volunteers need to be in good health, and normally aged between 21 and 79.
Ready, set, go!
  • As we strongly believe in cross-cultural bridge building, we try to ensure that volunteers are well informed and are given good quality orientation. We expect a high degree of commitment, which will involve preparation over several months including communication with the host centre and fundraising.
  • Our volunteers are expected to behave responsibly at all times and show a willingness to use their own initiative in organising their work schedule to encourage the successful completion of their placement.
  • Read the Frequently Asked Questions below and, if you wish to be considered for a placement, please contact us . For a list of current volunteering opportunities, see ‘What’s New’

Frequently Asked Questions


What is HATW trying to do?

Ultimately, HATW is trying to make a significant difference to the lives of vulnerable children in the places where we work. We believe that by sending volunteers we create opportunities for support, encouragement, skill-sharing, learning and friendship, in addition to any funding we are able to provide. We hope that our volunteers will be challenged by their experiences to stay interested and involved with the centre they have visited and help to ensure its future success.

How old do I need to be to volunteer with HATW?

Between 21 (or thereabouts) and 79.

Where can I go?

At present, we are working with schools, vocational training centres, hospitals and children’s centres in Benin, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia and India. Where you go depends on your skills, the time of year you wish to travel and the capacity of the overseas centre to accommodate you. To an extent, you can choose where you go, though we may not be able to match your skills or requirements up with the centre or country of your choice. We send volunteers where they will be welcome, and able to help.

What skills do I need?

Make sure you read all the way to the end of this answer…

We particularly need children’s workers – teachers and trainers, teaching assistants, foster carers, social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, paediatricians, community nurses and health visitors, as well as people to help move projects towards self-sustainability, with management, capacity building, accounting skills etc. and those interested in construction. We have sent farmers, a bereavement counsellor, a dentist, engineers, midwives, a sexual health adviser, a nutritionist and an art therapist, to name but a few.

Your skills don’t need to be linked to your occupation, however. If you think you might have skills we could use, please get in touch. If you don’t think you have any relevant skills, but would like to go on a project, please get in touch anyway. You may find that your skills are just what we need!

What is the minimum and maximum length of time I can go for?

We realise that some people are only able to volunteer for a short time, but we want to make sure that all the placements we arrange are helpful to the centres being visited. As such, our minimum placement period is three weeks.

Volunteers who go out for three to six weeks are most often useful as encouragers. They can also see how the centre is progressing and feed back very up-to-date information. From the volunteer’s point of view, a very short visit might be a starting point for a continuing relationship with the centre visited.

Our volunteers usually go for a maximum of six months, but if you wish to volunteer for longer, that may be possible. Please discuss it with us.

What is the minimum lead-in time required?

In order to fit in immunisations, orientation, a DBS (aka CRB) check, the return of references and receipt of your payment, we require a minimum lead-in time of 12 weeks.

When can I go?

This depends on things like school terms in the place you will be visiting, weather conditions and flight prices. Talk to us about it.


How do I apply?

First of all, have a good read of the information on our website, particularly these FAQs. If you have any questions, please contact David ( or 01600 740317). Note that a 12-week lead-in time is usually required, and that volunteers are asked to pay/raise £1500. We will ask you to get work and character references, a DBS (previously called CRB) check and a medical report and, if appropriate, we will also ask for your CV.

What happens next?

Once we have met up with you and asked you to submit references, we will almost certainly give you a provisional offer of a placement. We will send you an agreement, and ask you to sign and return this, along with an initial payment of £250, to confirm your acceptance of this place. We will not proceed with your application until your agreement and initial payment have been received. Once these are in, we will send you your Volunteer Pack. When your satisfactory references and doctor’s report have been returned and your DBS (CRB) check is being processed, we will confirm your place.

What happens if there is not a suitable placement for me at the time I apply?

In the first instance, we will contact you to let you know. We keep a file of everyone who applies, and refer back to it when we have roles to fill. If something suitable comes up, we’ll get in touch with you. If your circumstances change, and you are no longer available to volunteer, please let us know. If you don’t hear from us for a while, feel free to get back in contact.

Can I apply if I don’t live in Great Britain?

If you live nearby and are able to travel to the UK to meet with us, then we will consider you for a placement. Decisions are made on a case by case basis, so talk to us about this. Cost of volunteering may be a little different due to possible additional flight and insurance costs.


How much will it cost to volunteer with HATW?

All our volunteers pay or fundraise £1500, which includes the cost of the airfare and travel insurance. The cost is the same regardless of how long you volunteer for, as we wish to encourage people to give as much time as possible. Feel free to fundraise more than we ask for! Any extra you raise you might raise helps us to continue to support the centre you will volunteer at, and others. In addition to the £1500, you will need to pay for your immunisations, anti-malarial tablets, food, internal transport and the two-night break we suggest volunteers have before coming home.

When do payments need to be made?

An initial payment of £250 is required on accepting your placement. The remaining £1250 is usually due at least four weeks before you travel.

What happens if I can’t pay the money before I leave?

If we don’t receive your money by the deadline given, you will not be able to volunteer with us.

Can I get help with raising the money?

Yes! We have a Fundraising Handbook, which is available to all our volunteers. It includes tips and loads of ideas, including online fundraising, tried and tested events and activities and approaching organisations and companies.

Can HATW claim gift aid if I fundraise?

We can claim Gift Aid on most of the money you pay/fundraise, if you provide us with Gift Aid forms for anyone who donates money and has paid income tax or capital gains tax at least equal to the tax the charity claims on their donation in the appropriate tax year. Gift Aid allows us to claim extra money from the government at no cost to the donor. If you pay the money yourself, we just need a Gift Aid form from you. If you fundraise, we need Gift Aid forms from each individual donor.

How much money will I need to take with me?

There probably won’t be much to spend your money on during your placement, other than food, water and transport. You might like money to spend on outings or your two-night break, however. You may also want to take money to spend on equipment for the centre you visit. You should budget about £2.50/day for food.

How will I get hold of cash while I’m on my project?

You should be able to change money on arrival (at the airport or along your journey) and draw money out with a Visa card (NOT a Mastercard) in large towns. We will put you in touch with past volunteers to the centre you will be visiting, and they will be able to advise you more specifically.


Will I need a visa?

Normally yes, and you will need to arrange this yourself. We will talk to you about it first because regulations are different for different countries.

What if my passport needs renewing?

You will need to have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the date you return from your project. We will need to see your passport when you send in your DBS (CRB) form, and also to get your visa, so if your passport needs renewing you will need to sort that out at a time when it is not needed.

Will I need a DBS (CRB) check?

Yes. We take child protection very seriously. If you already have a CRB certificate that is less than 12 months old, we will just need to see that. Otherwise, you will need to complete a DBS (CRB) form to get a new certificate.

Will I need references?

Yes. Will we ask for a work reference (if you are self-employed/retired, this can be from a solicitor/accountant/volunteer colleague/former colleague etc.), a character reference and a medical report.

What happens if HATW doesn’t receive the required references?

If we don’t receive your references and medical report, you will not be able to volunteer with us. Very occasionally, we are unable to continue with a placement as a result of information given in a reference or medical report.

Will I be sent reminders about the paperwork I need to return?

If you don’t return your agreement and pay your initial £250, we will assume that you have decided not to continue with your application. Once you have accepted your place, if some paperwork is missing and time is ticking by, we will get in touch with you.

Who sorts out my flights, visa and insurance?

We do. You will need to tell us the dates you wish to travel and make sure we have your visa form, photos and passport when requested.

What happens if I need to cancel my trip?

Let us know, and we will do our best to recover from the insurance company any costs incurred. We will charge you an admin fee to do this.

Will I be given health advice?

Yes. We will give you information about HIV/AIDS, malaria, heat-related illness and water and food-related illness as well as a pocket health handbook. We will talk to you about health and safety and ask you to complete a daily diary. We will also advise you on immunisations and anti-malarial tablets and other recommended medication, and give you access to a Travel Health Advice website.

Will I be given a medical kit?

Yes. Volunteers usually travel in twos or threes, and will normally divide the medical kit up between you. This depends on whether you are all travelling on the same date. You will of course need to return your medical kit and mosquito net to us.

Will I need a mosquito net?

Yes. We will provide you with a strong, treated, double net and advise you on how to use it. It will need to be returned please.

What happens about getting immunisations and anti-malarial tablets?

We will advise you on immunisations and anti-malarial tablets and other medication, and give you access to a Travel Health Advice website. You will need to take the information to your GP or nurse and make sure that you leave plenty of time to get all the necessary jabs.

What happens if I haven’t had the immunisations by the time I am due to leave?

If you don’t have the immunisations in time, you will not be able to volunteer with us, as we take our duty of care very seriously.

Do I need to come to meetings before I go on my project?

You will need to have an initial meeting with someone from HATW. You will also be required to attend a 3-hour orientation session. These are usually held on a Saturday, at our office in Monmouth, South Wales. You will be given a list of dates to choose from.

How will I be prepared for my project?

Once you have accepted a placement, we will send you a Volunteer Pack. This will include, amongst other things, a comprehensive Volunteer Handbook, health information, a country profile, orientation meeting dates and directions to the office and contact details for your overseas host and past volunteers to the same centre. The orientation session will cover cultural awareness, health and safety and ways to make your project a success. You will be encouraged to seek specific information from your host and past volunteers. You will also be put in touch with the other volunteers who will be travelling at the same time as you.

Why do I need to be prepared for my project?

We believe that a volunteer’s experience is heightened if they have some understanding of the local community and culture they will be visiting. We also want to keep you safe. We don’t want to offend our local partners or their communities and damage our relationships with them.

What happens if I don’t go to my preparation meeting?

If you don’t come to a preparation meeting, you will not be able to volunteer with us.

Who should I contact if I have questions about my placement or preparation?

In addition to the preparation detailed above, we are available for advice whenever needed. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions or concerns. Call or email or 01600 740317 for general queries and for questions about money or paperwork.

How do I find out about the place I will be going to?

We will give you contact details for your host and for past volunteers who have visited the same centre and we encourage you to get in touch with them.

What kind of questions should I ask my host?

Be sensitive when enquiring about facilities. Try not to worry your host when asking about the food, accommodation and toilets. They might try to improve things for you, at considerable expense. Don’t flaunt your wealth by asking about expensive places to visit. Be mindful of the situations in which the people we work with live. Introduce yourself and ask about their school, vocational training centre or hospital. Make sure you let them know when you will be arriving. Talk to them about what you might get involved with during your project.

What happens if HATW decides that it is not appropriate for me to go on my arranged placement?

We will discuss it with you and refund you any money paid for your airfare, visa and insurance. If the decision is based on a temporary issue, we will ask you to apply again in the future.

Should I take gifts with me?

You can take small gifts if you like, but please discuss the needs of the centre with your host before you buy or collect anything. You may find that it is better to buy things in the host country than to carry them out with you. If you take gifts, do NOT give them out to individuals and do NOT give them out early on in the project. Please give them to your host at the end of your stay.

Should I take my mobile phone?

Yes. Remember to contact your provider and ask them to lift the international call bar for countries outside Europe. You may find that you need to buy a local sim card, but these only cost about £1. Make sure you have the mobile phone number of your host before you leave the UK.

What will my baggage allowance be?

Your baggage allowance will normally be about 23kg. Some airlines give 2 x 23kg. Talk to us about it! If you are travelling on an internal flight, the baggage allowance may only be 10-15kg.


Will I be travelling alone?

Volunteers usually travel in twos or threes.

Can I go with a friend or family member?

Yes, if the friend or family applies in the normal way.

What if I don’t get on with the person/people I am to travel/volunteer with?

Talk to us about it. We will not be able to move you to another project very easily, however, so think carefully before mentioning any concerns.

Can I travel separately from other volunteers going to the same place at roughly the same time?

We would prefer you to travel together, but this is not always possible. Talk to us if you have any questions.

What will happen when I first arrive in the country for my placement?

You will probably be met at the airport by your host or a colleague. Alternatively, a driver from an approved company will meet you. If you need to stay overnight, you will be met at the airport by the owners of the guesthouse and picked up by your host or a colleague the following day.

What will happen when I first arrive at the project centre?

You will spend a day with your host, learning about the centre and community, in preparation for your placement.


What will I be doing on my placement?

Whatever is useful at the time! Try not to get too fixated on the idea of a job description or timetable. Your skills will be valuable, but possibly not in the way you imagined! Talk to your host about their expectations and yours.

What if I identify work outside my remit that needs doing at the project centre?

Discuss it with your host. If they are happy for you to do it, go ahead. If they are not, please DON’T do it.

What if I identify equipment/facility/training/staffing needs at the project centre?

Discuss this with your host and with us before taking action. If you have taken money with you, you may wish to go and buy equipment with your host. Please let us know if you contribute financially to anything while on your project. At your feedback meeting you will be able to highlight to us any needs you have identified.

What if identify individual people I would like to support financially?

HATW has a child sponsorship scheme, called ‘Hand in Hand’, which allows volunteers and other supporters to contribute to the education fees of children and young adults at some of the partner centres we work with. We are adding new centres all the time. Our scheme supports both the individual and the school/vocational training centre they attend, which reduces the risk of stigma caused by favouritism. Individuals are identified by headteachers and our partners, to ensure that those with the greatest need are supported. We would prefer you to sponsor children through our scheme, as it allows us to keep track of support and ensure that the money is spent as intended. We ask you to let us know if you choose to support someone individually.

Who sorts out my accommodation, food and internal transport?

Accommodation is provided free of charge by the host. You will need to pay for food (about £2.50/day) and internal transport.

What will the accommodation be like?

That depends on the centre and the number of people who are with you. Volunteers usually stay in fairly basic accommodation, with mattresses on the floor and ‘hole in the ground’ toilets. It will be a bit like indoor camping! Sometimes, the accommodation will include beds and flush toilets. Whatever it is like, you can be assured that it is the best that your host is able to provide.

Will there be electricity?

Maybe. Ask your host, as these things change all the time. Even if there is electricity, you should expect frequent (often planned) powercuts.
What will happen about food?

You may cook for yourself, or you may have someone to cook for you or with you. You will usually buy your food at the local market, but sometimes at larger shops and sometimes in bigger towns. Talk to your host about this. It is not a good idea to give your whole food budget to someone all at once, as the temptation will be to spend it all quite quickly, and assume more can be requested.

Will I have any free time?

Yes. You will not be expected to work all day every day! Talk to your host about local places to visit on days off and activities you could get involved with. Things may be organised for you, but you will usually need to ask about possibilities.

Are there rules I will have to comply with on the project?

Yes. We don’t want you to offend the local people you are living among and we want you to stay safe. For that reason we ask you to sign an agreement in advance of going on your project.

What happens if I go against the agreement I have signed?

You risk your safety and our reputation. You potentially stop further volunteers from visiting the centre.

What happens if my project host is not happy with me?

They will probably not say anything to you, but they may speak to us. If they do, we will discuss it with you. Try not to give them cause to be unhappy.

What happens if I am not happy with my placement or project host?

Talk to us or your fellow volunteers about it. Try not to get despondent. Consider whether it is your attitude that is making you unhappy. Remember to be flexible and open-minded.

Can I go travelling after my placement?

You can, but please remember that you will have been affected by your experiences of living in a very different community and you may find it difficult to adjust to ‘holiday mode’. Be sensible about what you plan to do, whether it’s in the country you’ve volunteered in or in another country following a short interval back home.


Who is responsible for my health and safety while on the project?

We have a duty of care to you, but you are also responsible for your own health and safety. We will advise you, but we will not be with you on your project.

Who will look after me on the project?

Your host will. They will do the very best job they can to make sure that you are happy, healthy and safe.

Will I be safe?

If you follow our advice and that of your host, you should be. We will not knowingly send you to an unsafe area, but the world is an unpredictable place and things can change quickly. We receive updates from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and we have an emergency plan. Make sure you read the health and safety policy and medical and emergency plan pages in your handbook.

What are the major health risks?

Malaria, HIV, heat-related illness, food and drink-related illness and road traffic accidents are the major health risks to volunteers. You will find advice on the prevention of these in your Volunteer Handbook.

What happens if there’s an emergency?

You will be asked to find out about local health facilities before or on arrival at the centre. You will have a medical and emergency plan in your Volunteer Handbook. Make sure you read through it carefully and take your Volunteer Handbook with you on your project. You will also have emergency contact details.

We will ask you to register with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s LOCATE service, before you go away. Doing this means that you can be easily found and contacted in an emergency.

What happens if I lose my mosquito net or use items from the medical kit?

Please try not to lose your net! If you use items from the medical kit, make a note of it so that we can re-stock them when you return. You will not be charged for using items from the medical kit.

Can I leave the medical kit or mosquito net behind when I leave to come home?

No. Please don’t. They are expensive and are needed for future volunteers.

Can I drink the water?

That depends on the centre you are visiting. Take water treatment tablets and buy bottled water if you need to. Remember, if the water is unsafe to drink, it is also unsafe to brush your teeth with.


How do I feed back on my project?

HATW will arrange a date for a feedback meeting before you go away. You will have the opportunity to tell us all about your experiences, feed back any thoughts on the next steps for our relationship with the centre you have volunteered at and let us know if you are struggling to adapt to life back home or wish to do anything as a result of your experience. You will also be sent a short feedback form and asked to write a report on your placement.

Do I need to feed back?

Yes. We need to be kept up-to-date with the situation at the centre you have visited and know anything you think we should pass on to future volunteers. We need to see you to assess how you are coping with being back home, and to support you in responding to your project experience. It’s also helpful for you to be able to share your experiences with someone who understands. If absolutely necessary, we can conduct your feedback meeting via Skype.

What happens if I need support when I get back?

Let us know and we will do what we can to help. Get in touch with the past volunteers who advised you before you went away and talk to the volunteers you travelled with.