Volunteer Health and Safety
Volunteering abroad is an impactful way to expand your horizons, learn about new cultures and make a valuable contribution in a community overseas. As the world’s leading volunteer travel provider, International Volunteer HQ is trusted to support the meaningful adventures of thousands of volunteers every year.
The safety and wellbeing of our volunteers has and always will be our number one priority. With more than 16 years experience, we are trusted by volunteers to ensure they are well prepared for their trip, and that we have processes and procedures in place to ensure risks are minimized.
We’ve always followed best practice and industry-leading procedures and we are proud to say that we have an unmatched record when it comes to keeping volunteers safe across all 40+ countries in which we operate programs.
Managing health and safety across our programs
We have a comprehensive approach to managing health and safety procedures and reducing risks across all of our programs. This gives volunteers the knowledge and confidence they need to stay safe, secure and healthy.
- As part of our B Corporation certification process, we regularly review and optimize our health and safety policies to ensure that our impact on volunteers, in-country teams and local communities remains a positive one.
- When programs are set up, we train the local team on best practice volunteer management, including industry-leading health and safety procedures.
- All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ’s Risk Management Policy. We regularly visit our programs to meet with local teams and volunteers to ensure that this is being adhered to.
- All program staff are required to undertake first aid training and all host families and staff undergo thorough background checks.
- We actively seek feedback from volunteers and continually revise our health and safety procedures to ensure they are effective and meet expectations.
- All IVHQ volunteers receive access to and are strongly encouraged to take our online pre-departure training, which includes a module on health and safety.
- The IVHQ team provides wrap-around support from start to finish and our local teams are available in-country 24/7 for volunteers to voice any concerns and support any incidents that arise.
- We require volunteers to have travel insurance when they travel abroad with us. We can help you choose a provider that covers everything you need.
Protecting volunteers with the right travel insurance
IVHQ’s travel insurance is administered by CISI, one of the world’s leading providers of insurance for study abroad and international student travel. The cover plans have been customized specifically for our volunteers and is the same price for everyone, no matter where you live or where you are traveling to (with the exclusion of Cuba). There is also no minimum or maximum age limit on our cover.Learn more about IVHQ Travel Insurance
Providing comprehensive support from start to finish
Before you leave home
- All IVHQ volunteers receive exclusive access to pre-departure online training when they register for one of our programs. This is delivered through three interactive learning modules, one of which is dedicated to safety.
- Our training has a strong focus on risk areas that are not in the direct control of IVHQ or our local teams and how volunteers can mitigate such risks.
- We strongly encourage all volunteers to complete the training.
During your program
- All IVHQ volunteers are met by a member of our local team when arriving at their program destination and receive an airport transfer to ensure they arrive safely at their volunteer accommodation.
- Volunteers complete a Program Orientation, which includes a detailed briefing about risks that are specific to your location and helps you get to grips with the local culture and program objectives.
- Local teams are on hand 24-hours a day to provide direct support and volunteers are given contact details for these staff members so they can be reached quickly and easily.
- IVHQ staff also regularly check-in with volunteers at the accommodation to ensure everything is going well.
- All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to our Risk Management Policy that has been specially designed to acknowledge that no two volunteer programs have the same risk profile.
- Risk mitigation plans for each program are monitored and updated through a formal review every year and compliance checks are completed in-person by visiting.
- All program staff members are required to undertake first aid training and each of our teams has basic first aid equipment on-hand should it be needed.
- All host families and all staff directly or indirectly employed by IVHQ undergo thorough background checks before we begin working with them.
- Every volunteer is provided with detailed briefings about what to do in the unlikely event of an emergency, and local teams have evacuation plans in place as well as support networks of skilled professionals that they can call upon should a need arise.
- Volunteers are given emergency contact phone numbers and they are supported to purchase local mobile phone connections so they can get help quickly if they need it.
- Our local teams are required to log every health and safety related incident on IVHQ’s global incident management database within 24 hours, regardless of how large or small it is, so that we can rapidly escalate support if necessary. This allows us to track the cause and response to every incident so we can implement procedures to prevent it happening again. We want to make sure we always have the right safety and emergency response measures in place for every possible incident.
- Emergency response procedures in each destination are reviewed, audited and refined on a regular basis and we’re constantly making improvements.