As we head into the new year, the Kaya team have yet another reason to be jumping for joy. This December, Kaya was named as the winners of the Best Volunteering Organisation award at the British Youth Travel Awards. As silver medalists in 2013 we are thrilled that we managed to take the top spot this year. This win reflects all the hard work and changes that Kaya team have implemented throughout the last twelve months to become the best volunteering organisation in the UK!
Check out the great photo of the Kaya team receiving their award from the (famous?) celebrity Eddie “the eagle” Edwards!
So what have we done since 2013 to deserve this?
- Launched our tailor made volunteering gap year service
- Launched our family volunteering projects
- Continued to developed the quality of our project placements:
- Reviewed project descriptions
- Followed up on feedback from volunteers and partners, improving processes and documentation
- Removing programs that failed to meet Kaya’s requirements
- Working even more closely with our in-country projects to ensure best practices
- Sharing documents and processes including Child Protection, Code of Conduct and language level assessment criteria
- The Kaya team provided emergency support to our project partners in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan hit Tacloban in November 2013
- Kaya’s own staff in Tacloban provided on the ground support to NGO operations
- Staff based in the UK put aside their own targets for three months and focused on the relief effort.
- Kaya removed its own fees in order to secure volunteers to help with the recovery process
- Kaya responded to over 500 enquiries within 4 weeks of the disaster.
- £10,984 was raised by the combined efforts of the Kaya team to help victims of the typhoon
- In 2013 we vastly improved our welcome packs, a pre-departure manual for each project with even more information on dress code, meals, responsible travel, culture etc.
- In 2014 sections on project communication, project commitment and handling requests for donations have been added in response to feedback from volunteers and projects
- Asked projects to provide a more detailed outline of the volunteers duties 4 weeks before their arrival to help the project and the volunteer to fully prepare, and if necessary make adjustments prior to the arrival of the volunteers
- Continued high-level of customer service provided by our team of placement advisors
- Our placement advisors focus on getting to know volunteers, their interests, skills, experience, and travel aspirations to best match them to a project.
- Matching volunteers goals, skills and experience to the project needs:
- Provided copy of CV’s/resumes for community and health placements, interviewing applicants where necessary
- Documented skills and qualities required for successful placements
- Setting standards for volunteers
- Developed Child Protection Guidelines for volunteers
- Introduced a Code of Conduct for volunteers
- Introduction of language level for projects in Latin America
- Using the Common European Framework of References of Languages, projects have rated the needed level of Spanish language level from volunteers. This manages the expectations of both our projects and volunteers and will help facilitate a tangible benefit from the volunteer’s work.
- Assessed our internship placements against minimum university requirements
- Development of marketing processes
- Working more closely with our projects to improve the quality and quantity of photos
- Introducing more videos to our website, including an interview with one of our home-stay mothers in Ghana
- Gathering more testimonials and feedback from volunteers with a view to develop our testimonials and feedback database in 2015
We have had a fantastic year working to provide the best international volunteering opportunities that we can and look forward to building on this success in 2015!