Go Travel and Talk’s featured Organisation of the month is about connecting each other with the inspiration we need to EXPLORE, SHARE and IMPACT. The purpose of this monthly feature is to showcase organisations who are out in the world making a positive impact and to empower each other to get involved. By joining the Go Travel and Talk community and learning from one another through sharing our insights, stories and experiences, we believe that TOGETHER we can positively shape the future of travel.
Go Travel and Talk's 'Organisation of the Month' April 2019 goes to Indigo Volunteers, a inspiring volunteer platform that connects volunteers with world wide humanitarian projects, such as the refugee crisis, disaster zones and long term developmental projects - at no cost to you!
Indigo's founder, Holly, is one of the kindest, most compassionate, caring and positive people we have ever had the pleasure of working with. Her passion and dedication to drive change is contagious and she immediately lights up the room when she walks in; you just can’t help but be drawn to her energy.
Indigo Volunteers is the product of Holly’s frustration of not being able to find suitable volunteering opportunities that don’t cost the earth, a frustration that we share and one of the reasons we set up Go Travel and Talk.
Indigo offer the opportunity for people to really make a difference and play a pivotal role in ‘matchmaking’ volunteers with incredible opportunities to positively impact a place. They work with volunteer projects all over the world, and offer opportunities to help in the refugee crisis, disaster zones and long term development projects, and all at no cost to to their volunteers. Indigo also provide support and resources to prepare volunteers for the task ahead. If you find volunteer projects through Indigo Volunteers you are never alone, there is a wonderful team there to support you and understand the emotions at play when becoming involved in such projects.
We at Go Travel and Talk, feel that through many hours of work and dedication, Holly and her team have lovingly created an invaluable service to those wanting to make a difference, and we for one, can’t wait to support them on their journey.
When I finished university, I planned to take a gap year and as part of this I wanted to volunteer. However, when I began researching into this, I found only companies that essentially wanted to make money out of my volunteering experience. This really did not sit right with me and I began to ask a lot of questions;
How ethical this set-up was?
How beneficial this really was to the communities receiving the help?
How fair it was to expect people to pay such large fees?
After quite some time of discussions and research, and especially after going back to university again to study nursing where companies were asking us to pay them to nurse abroad, I decided to arrange my first independent volunteering trip to Romania. This trip enabled me to see that once you are in direct contact with a charity, you can organise a successful volunteering trip without having to pay a company.
I then went to Malawi to work with a small charity in a health clinic. It became very clear very quickly that there were lots of charities that needed help from volunteers, and lots of people wanting to volunteer. What was missing was a platform listing these charities.
And so Indigo Volunteer's was born!
We list charities all around the world, who are looking for help from volunteers. We allow volunteers to access this information for free and provide guidance through matching and connecting.
We have a long assessment form that we complete with each organisation before we decide to list them and we are quite strict in terms of money. We don't have a problem at all with volunteers paying for accommodation and food for example, even if it is a little inflated so some of this money goes back into helping run the project. However, there is a limit and we make it clear that no volunteer can be asked for money that is not agreed prior to their departure.
Those projects that are only interested in the money aspect usually are not interested in us with this policy in place. Also, those that are not UK registered charities must be visited in person. This is because the UK charity commission do their own auditing and have their own requirements, and the charities listed with them are already of a certain standard. Those that are not part of the UK charity commission, we cannot be as sure of their standards and so must conduct a site visit before listing them.
What does "making a positive impact" mean to you?
I believe it is all about human connection - if you walk away and you have changed a person's day for the better even by 1% that is a positive impact to me. This can be achieved by the smallest actions, asking someone ‘how are you?’, showing people you care, offering them hope.
On a larger scale with regards to Indigo, I believe we make positive impacts every day by filling roles that are needed across the world, from education and clothing distribution to supporting women’s empowerment projects - we help people return to health, realise their potential, gain access to food and so on.
What actions are you taking to make a positive impact in the world?
I like the simple adage; just try not to be a dick :)
But seriously, I think you can have a positive impact if you are just a force of kindness to the people around you. Which, contrary to popular belief, is not always that easy. I try to be aware of people in difficult situations and make small gestures to help. This is mostly in the form of giving money or food to homeless people, or helping someone if i see them struggling or looking lost. I want my focus to be on spreading energy and positivity which is at the core of Indigo’s values and the work we do.
I also believe that we need to use our voice to speak up when we see wrong in the world, especially when inaccurate information is being portrayed. Evil prevails when good people are silent.
With regards to Indigo, the projects we connect with and the amazing volunteers we place across the world are making positive impacts every day and that’s something I’m really proud of.
How do you think the Go Travel and Talk platform can support your mission?
I feel that people who are interested in conscientious travel and use the Go Travel and Talk platform, might also be interested in conscientious volunteering. The projects we work with are always looking for help, so if Go Travel and Talk members would like to make a positive impact, then they are very welcome to get involved!
No words can express the love and respect we have for Holly, her team and what Indigo Volunteers have created and strive for every day. Their mission is simple, to help as many people as possible, to alleviate worldwide pain and suffering.
They have created a much needed resource and helped so many people. We are so grateful to now join them on their journey and have their support for ours.