“I attended SLV.Global (or SL Volunteers) back in 2012.
It was an amazing and definitely life-changing experience. I worked on a number of projects, was given both training and the freedom to add value of my own.
I'm writing this just because I've seen a couple of negative reviews (in amongst the good) and those didn't reflect my experiences at all.
My homestay was great.
The projects were excellent.”
“Terrible company! Terrible communication! Cancelled my placement TWICE due to unforeseeable circumstances, however refused to refund me back. The company has now gone into administration with my money! Very disappointing and despicable!”
“You took £1300 of my daughters Money, trip cancelled and now you’ve shutdown your website phoneline and moved Address and ignored her request for refund! Your company is outrageous and disgusting to steal money from students!!!”
“Will not give £250 acceptance fee back despite all travel suspended due to covid-19. I understand that this was non refundable but assumed this would not still be the case when my trip cannot go ahead! I am so glad I didn’t give them any more money and can now return all of my crown funding because it was likely that they would have kept all of that too.”
“Alright experience but not worth the money.
I spent four weeks on the Advanced Bali Mental Health Placement. I met some lovely volunteers, amazing service users and supportive coordinators. However I really struggled with the transparency of SLV in the way they spend our fees. Firstly you have to pay a £250 deposit to secure your place after you apply. You have a week to pay it once you commit. They call/email you almost everyday and warn that you will lose your place if you don’t. Please don’t just pay it due to the pressure. If you miss the deadline you can re-apply and you will probably get a place again as long as there’s still space. Also you would think the deposit contributes towards your £1400 fees like a normal deposit would but it’s doesn’t, it’s just an extra expense. You have to pay the full £1400 after that for the fees. Also before securing a specific placement date with the deposit I asked for the other dates they had available and they were very reluctant to give any information on dates over the phone. I had to ask multiple times. This is so backwards to me because we are paying for a service and should be given all the information when asked. Although we are volunteering for this wonderful cause, we are also putting our own lives on hold from our jobs and university therefore information should be as forthcoming as possible.
Furthermore we have to pay for our own flights, visa, new wardrobe, lunch every day, weekend transport/hotels/food etc as we are not allowed in the accommodation over the weekends. I’ve been told only 15% of fees are contributed to the well-being and mental health of Balinese people. Furthermore the projects we are taken on are paid for by us, it’s not “volunteering”. We are paying for the experience. Apparently most volunteering companies do this which I was shocked by but maybe that’s just the way it is.
Onto the accommodation. In the information pack given to us in the months before the placement we are told we will be staying with a traditional Balinese family; that they are welcoming us into their home with open arms and doing this amazing thing for us. Then the first day we enter the village we see a big placard with each of the homestays names and phone numbers on in case you want to ‘book a room’. These homestays are hotels to the general public too and anyone can book a room there... even on booking.com. I have looked online and the rooms are around £6 a night. We only spend 15 days in the homestay therefore only £90 of our fees go to accommodation on the placement (I haven’t included the hotel we stayed at during the first week for training and the jungle weekend). Again SLV is not forthcoming with the information they have given us, making it out that we are this big burden to the family and that we should be eternally grateful, giving them gifts when we arrive etc. Yet again we are paying for a service. I have to be honest about the quality of accommodation too. The rooms are nice inside and cleaned once a week. But you are given one fan between four people, which is hard in 30 degree heat.
Furthermore there are real issues with the food. The breakfast is a stale piece of toast that has been sat out for a while, fruit, and either a cold fried egg or cold pancake. Which is supposed to sustain us from 7am until 1pm during projects and project planning. Again this is what we have paid for in our fees. Please note that apparently not all homestays are like this. Some other volunteers were given as much they they liked, while others were the same as mine. I even spoke to the SLV staff about this and they said that was unacceptable. They told me they would sort this, and when I came back from the weekend it will have changed. This was in the first week in the homestay, by the final week nothing had changed. On the other hand dinner was much better with portion sizes, and tastes great too. Also please note that the home stay families are the nicest people you will meet. They are so lovely and do look after you like their own, however SLV made it out to be that us staying was a huge burden and that we should be super grateful. When in fact it’s a hotel we are paying for. It’s the exaggeration of facts that is the problem.
Another problem with this placement is the project planning. We are given every Monday and Wednesday afternoon to project plan for the week ahead. This is not nearly enough time. In the information provided by SLV before signing up you are told you have evenings and weekends off to relax. This is not true. On my placement there were volunteers working until 11pm trying to sort out activities for the upcoming projects. Others had been walking around the village in pitch black at 9pm to get to the printing shop so they have enough resources for their projects. I wouldn’t even be allowed to walk twenty minutes in the dark at home, let alone in a foreign county when guard dogs are barking at you while you pass them in the street. My parents weren’t happy about this. I bought this up to SLV staff and they said they did say that they didn’t want anyone walking around at night for projects or working so hard to the point we are stressed out. But this information wasn’t passed on to the whole group, and volunteers still felt obligated to work this hard because projects fell completely on our shoulders. If we didn’t pull through then the service users would have nothing do to and it would make us and SLV look bad. This was a lot of pressure. The staff were very supportive in regards to these points and always offered to help prepare for projects or offer ideas which was good and really appreciated.
Projects ranged from teaching English to staff at a local medical hospital, to practicing yoga with the geriatric village community, to conducting cognitive activities to those in the only psychiatric hospital in Bali. Each project gave valuable experience if you are looking for a career in psychology, but also in a general sense. It abled me to become more confident and allowed me to develop skills working with a wide range of people from all different backgrounds (other volunteers). It must also be mentioned, however, that some volunteers felt they didn’t have a great variety of projects given to them in their weekly timetable. For example they would have two different English teaching sessions, with service users that were either from the local school or staff and the medical hospital. And then a yoga session with the geriatric village community Although these projects are valuable to these service users it doesn’t have much to do with mental health (although yoga can promote positive mental health). But it meant that half these volunteers week wasn’t what they hoped it would be, or what they expected from the SLV mental health placement. This didn’t happen to me directly, but it was something that was mentioned on my placement that some volunteers were unhappy with.
Finally this is a FOR PROFIT TOURIST COMPANY. Not a charity.
For these reasons I gave the placement and application process through SLV one star.”
“I went to Sri Lanka with SLV in Feb 2019 and it was the most fantastic experience I have ever had. I really got to combine my two passions of psychology and travel, and go to a community that I can help and learn from. I was always supported during our projects, and if things got too much for us, our supervisors and peer mentors were there 24/7 with support to get us through. It was an invaluable experience and it has furthered my career and education in the psychology field exponentially.”
Posted 1 year ago
Thank you for writing this review about your time with us last year.
It's great to hear that you felt supported and that you were able to learn more about the new culture & global mental health whilst you were in Sri Lanka. I'm also glad that your placement had such a positive impact on your career too! 🙌
Thank you for all your hard work on the placement - if you need anything from us, please don't hesitate to get in touch!
“After joining the SLV.Global India programme in 2017, it is safe to say my life has been completely transformed.
Not only have I completed a further 2 placements with SLV.Global in Sri Lanka (2018 as a peer mentor - 3 months) and in Bali (2019 as a Vol. Coordinator - 3 months), but I have also acted as an ambassador for my university, gaining some extra money whilst promoting a cause I strongly align with.
My placements with SLV.Global have given me a real opportunity to explore a massive variety of different areas of interest, whether that’s teaching, activity support work, global mental health, cross cultural psychology, positive psychology or so on. This is NOT just a psychology obsessed company, but a company that places enriching the lives of both its service users, community members and volunteers in a positive way at the centre of what it does. Volunteers continually promote positive mental health whether that’s during projects or even in the community.
Despite what people may think, NO level of qualifications in the west entitles you to dictate how another country or culture should approach their mental health issues. This is what is so refreshing about SLV.Global, as they attempt to shift the focus away from the ‘west is best’ mentality and onto supporting the local communities to grow and develop in their own organic way. It is for that reason that volunteers joining the SLV.Global placements do NOT practice complex therapies, irrespective of their level of training. Volunteers work as activity support workers, helping members of the local community and service users gain vital and useful skills to use in every day life.
In my experience there are no other companies that offer the unique programmes SLV.Global offers. Despite all this however, the programmes may not be for everyone. If, however, you decide to apply, gain your place, pay your fees and attend placement and then realise that it is not the programme for you, then perhaps a certain level of research was not conducted first. My biggest advice to any future volunteers is read the website! There’s information about costs, how the money is spent, what SLV.Global offers and what to expect all on the website, whether that’s in the info packs, general info, FAQs, blogs OR vlogs there is definitely a lot of info out there! By the time I had read all these various things I had definitely got a clear idea of what SLV.Global stood for and what they offered, and if anything I underestimated just how amazing the experience would be.
All in all, I would not be where I am today without SLV.Global and I am extremely grateful for the experience, life-long friends I have made, and for the opportunity to get to know myself that little bit better!
I can’t wait for the next adventure!”
“I completed the 12-week placement In Sri Lanka some time ago and having since qualified as a clinical psychologist. I am writing this review to highlight what I now reflect was an incredibly concerning experience. I was told to write a good review in order to get a reference, subsequently the reviews on here are highly likely to be biased. The expense appears to have increased exponentially over the past few years - it would be fine if this went to support the local communities however there is no evidence that this is the case (projects apparently get 15% of what is paid, homestays approximately cost £5 per night) and we stayed in a home with up to 20 people, having paid £1500 to go. There was a complete lack of transparency about where the money goes. There was very little care or concern about the safety of volunteers (my friend was pickpocketed and provided with no follow-up support) or the impact they are having on the communities they go into. Despite advertisements that indicate otherwise, this a FOR PROFIT TOURIST COMPANY. It was NOT Psychology or even psychologically informed - there was no serious consideration or exploration of the impact we were having on the placement and the organisations we worked in. The actual activities were predominantly arts and crafts or teaching. In some cases even teaching swimming without any qualifications. Much of what went on was unsafe and unethical. Psychology graduates can get much better experience in the UK without contributing to a company whose primary concern is making money and not the communities they are working into.”
Posted 1 year ago
Hi Lesley, thank you for your valuable feedback. We appreciate you taking the time to reflect on your experience, but we do wish you’d passed along your concerns in 2014 when you joined us, as things within the organisation have changed significantly since then. We no longer run the volunteer placement in Sri Lanka you are talking about.
We’d like to clarify that everyone who successfully completes a placement gets a reference, which is available automatically for download upon placement completion, not upon receipt of a positive review.
We’d also like to highlight that we have never claimed that joining us is superior to getting experience in the UK. It’s not an “either or” situation. In fact, all volunteers need to have worked in their home country to qualify to work with service users on our placements. We fully believe the biggest benefit to joining us is for participants to experience the mental health sector abroad to increase cultural competencies and cross-cultural awareness in addition to having the opportunity to live and work in another country and culture.
As I mentioned before, we have developed significantly as an organisation in the last six years and now, although we still do not stipulate what volunteers do at projects, volunteers are guided by experienced staff who help to plan psychologically beneficial sessions that prioritise the wellbeing of the service users. Sure, sometimes these involve creatively-centred activities, but these modalities have proven benefits, which you as a clinical psychologist will surely be aware of.
As far as the outcomes of our work abroad is concerned, our five-year report, which was published in 2018, clearly evidences the impact made in Sri Lanka was positive for service users, project staff and the community alike. Please do take a look! It was, after all, your teams who helped lay the groundwork for this and we remain very grateful. (https://slv.global/blog/2018/3/20/our-five-year-evaluation-report)
We understand that you have objections to the fees, but these are used to provide a safe environment for our team members and also a competitive wage for our staff and homestay families, who are all local.
We wish you all the best with the work you are currently doing and want to congratulate you on your role as a clinical psychologist!
“I took part in the SLV.Bali placement in July this year. Originally planning to go on the 8 week Sri Lanka placement, but due to cancelation SLV.Global were amazing in moving me over to another placement, around the same dates I was originally meant to be away. Once I had arrived in Bali all the support given whilst there, in ideas about how to plan projects, or where to get certain items to make things for projects, and even if you just needed a chat. The wide range of projects which I was placed on were all lovely, and the experience I gained from this placement and working in a different culture, with a language barrier will really help me in the future.
My homestay family was lovely and extremely welcoming, leaving on the last day was incredibly emotional as they really do treat you as one of the family.”
Posted 1 year ago
Hi Aeonie! We really appreciate that you took the time to write a review for us. We were so happy that we were able to find another placement that works for you in a different destination 😊You were an amazing volunteer in Bali, so it is great to hear that you felt supported, and enjoyed your time there. Thank you for all of your hard work!
“Avoid avoid avoid ! They refuse to give me back my deposit though they cancelled the placement! Now I am out £250 which they claim covers the amount of times they have emailed me. Pathetic.”
Posted 1 year ago
Thank you for taking the time to write your feedback, Jay. As you know, the events in Sri Lanka this Easter were unexpected and devastating, and we are sorry that you and your team were not able to join the placement in Sri Lanka this year as planned because of it. Our main aim has always been to be fair to all our volunteers and to offer everyone the chance to join an alternative placement so they can get the experience they were looking forward to.
We have always been clear and transparent with the fact that the Placement Acceptance Fee is a non-refundable fee. The Placement Acceptance Fee is not only to secure your place on a team, but also for costs associated with aspects including but not limited to all marketing, pre-departure support, and administration, communication via phone, email, social media and also checking and collating pre-departure information to send to our teams overseas; all of which has been provided by the SLV.Global London team despite the placement not going ahead as planned.
We are sorry that you were unable to join us on an alternative program this summer but if your future commitments allow, as a gesture of goodwill we would be more than happy to move your placement acceptance fee to one of our alternative programs in India, Bali or Europe. Furthermore, should we resume our work in Sri Lanka, we would be more than happy to have you re-join the team there in the future. Thank you again.
“This summer I participated in the SLV.Bali placement. From the moment I arrived in Bali the support from staff was incredible, all the coordinators and supervisors were especially friendly and helpful, whether it be helping plan and run sessions or just having a chat. The other volunteers were also amazing, making the four weeks a lot of fun. The entire placement was impeccably organised, making the whole experience run very smoothly.
The placement has provided me with more valuable experience than I could have imagined. I worked with a huge range of service users and developed my own skills and confidence.
Living in a homestay with a local family was a great experience. The homestay families were lovely and welcoming. I learned a lot about the culture and religion in Bali and it was amazing to experience cultural celebrations first-hand.”
Posted 1 year ago
Hi Bridget, thank you so much for taking the time to write a review about your time with us! It is lovely to hear that you felt supported by the team and other volunteers during your placement in Bali, and that you gained some valuable experience whilst you were there too. Thank you for all of your dedication and hard work on the placement, you were an amazing volunteer this summer, and we are so happy that you are becoming an SLV.Global Ambassador at Lancaster Uni! 🙌
“Very disappointing behaviour from SLV Global. My daughter booked a placement in Sri Lanka for August 2019 and paid the £250 ‘Placement Acceptance Fee’.
Due to the situation in Sri Lanka the placement was cancelled by SLV, quite rightly. However, SLV will not refund my daughter’s £250 fee which they describe as ‘non-refundable’ even though they have cancelled the placement. There are no suitable alternative placements.
She is a student and her resources are very stretched so this mean and petty policy of SLV is quite a blow to her.
I cannot think of another business that takes payments from customers, then fails to offer the product or service but keeps the customers’ money.
Dreadful treatment of student customers. To be avoided.”
Posted 1 year ago
Thank you for taking the time to write your feedback, Mr. Morris. The situation in Sri Lanka this Easter was horrific and unexpected. We are saddened that it happened and that your daughter and her team weren't able to join us in Sri Lanka this summer as planned. Our main aim has always been to be fair to all our volunteers, and we are proud that despite the events that took place in Sri Lanka this summer we were able to offer everyone the chance to join an alternative placement in either Bali or India.
We are always explicit and transparent that the Placement Acceptance Fee is non-refundable, as this fee covers all the pre-departure support and administration required to make the placement preparations for the team. The Placement Acceptance Fee does not make up part of the costs of her time abroad, but was used to support her from the time she joined our team in January. This includes all the correspondence we had with her, all the advice provided to help her prep for her placement, and all the subsequent support offered after the tragedy to try and find a suitable alternative for her and her teammates. We were sorry to hear that other plans had been made for your daughter and that she wouldn't be able to join us in another destination, but we did agree that as a gesture of goodwill we would be very happy to transfer her Placement Acceptance Fee to an alternative placement in the future.
We are sorry that your daughter was unable to join us this summer, but we would still love for her to join us on one of our teams if her future commitments allow it. Thanks again.
“Support from the SLV.Global staff throughout the placement was exceptional, the homestay facilities are fantastic and very homely. The food prepared for us everyday was delicious and the village that you stay in feels very safe and welcoming.”
Posted 1 year ago
Thank you so much for taking the time to write a review! It is great to hear that you not only enjoyed living within the local community on your placement, but also that you felt supported by the SLV.Global overseas staff too. Thanks again! 😊
“Are you looking for some professional experience working in mental health? Then this placement is for you, it allows you to gain valuable experience in mental health that is not possible to get in the UK. From living in a traditional Balinese village with a Balinese family to leading yoga and psychologically themed sessions, it was a really rewarding experience and I really recommend it.”
Posted 1 year ago
Thank you for your feedback, Estella! We loved having you on the team in Bali and we're so glad you enjoyed your time on placement. We wish you the best of luck for the future, keep in touch!
“If you are thinking about SLV.Global, stop thinking and book your placement now! I promise you, you will never regret it! Over my one month placement I acquired invaluable practical psychology experience, I made friends from all around the world, I learnt a language I never thought I would learn, and I fell in love with a culture, its people and... its food! Thanks SLV.Global and bon voyage to those reading this :)”
Posted 2 years ago
Thank you so much for your lovely feedback, Gabby! We are so glad you enjoyed your time in Sri Lanka and that you recommend the placement to others looking for similar experience. We're so grateful for your hard work and we wish you all the best for the future. Please keep in touch!
“The most life changing cultural and rewarding experience having the opportunity to work within an amazing team and in a field thaI I am most passionate upon. I did not realize how powerful non-verbal communication is until I joined the SLV.Global in Bali with the language barrier and the individuals who have severe mental health issues or hearing impairment; this is one of the valuable skills that I have developed for my future career in mental health A lot of the team had graduated or were graduating in psychology however this placement is beneficial for all areas working within mental health or individuals with learning disabilities. The weeks were occasionally challlenging, yet it was definitely worth every minute of it by making that small yet significant differnce on the individual and I would do it 100 times over if I could. SLV.Global were very supportive during the four weeks and I cannot thank them enough for the inspiring cultural experience outside of the westernised world. Not only has this developed my skills for my career yet I have gained amazing friends and memories that will last a life time!”
Posted 2 years ago
Thank you for writing a review, Sioned! We loved having you on the team in Bali and we are so glad you enjoyed your time. It's great to hear you gained valuable experience from your placement and that you felt supported by the team. Best of luck with everything, please keep in touch!