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There is no typical volunteer! Schoolhouse offers a range of placements and welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds.You should be aged 17 or over and in good health. Whatever your role, we expect all Schoolhouse volunteers to approach their placements in a professional manner. As volunteers will probably be working with children and young people a check of criminal records for offences against children is required.

Perhaps the last thing you thought about when deciding to volunteer was changing your own life. Perhaps you were driven by a desire to give something back, to make a difference and yes, you can and will do that. You'll touch individual lives, creating change in individual futures, contributing on a daily basis. But every day, with every new experience and every new word you learn, you'll be changing. You'll be living a different life, responding to different challenges. You'll be learning new skills and becoming more resilient, more self-reliant and more able to think on your feet. You'll be learning to make do with less.

Click on the links below to see some of the reasons why you would be a good volunteer - and why volunteering might be good for you!

I'm a school leaver

OK - you're considering taking a step away from home and family, a big step away from everything that's familiar, a huge step towards independence and the future. Scary for you - terrifying for your family!!

That's why Schoolhouse offers a uniquely personal approach to school leavers and their families. Alan and Cathy have excellent local connections in the areas where volunteers work , so there's a network that the volunteers will be plugged into, right from the start, making the experience as safe and as authentic as possible.

The preparation and training are excellent and include a session for parents as well. Alan and Cathy have long experience in working with young people and expertise in getting the best out of them. They passionately believe that young people can be guided towards achieving their full potential in a volunteering situation in a developing country whilst making a valuable contribution.

Alan and Cathy are regular visitors to the projects and will be there at designated start times to deal personally with each young volunteer, ensuring a good settling-in and ironing out of any initial difficulties. A personal approach to each young volunteer means that the right placement will be found for each individual and the right programme of work will be designed to suit the capabilities and interests of each young volunteer. If the original placement is not right, an alternative will be offered.

There's excellent, ongoing local support. Not only that - volunteers can make use of the support line. So, if there's a problem of any kind - from homesickness to difficulty with a lesson plan - just a text, call or email is all it takes to get the support that's needed.

You'll gain valuable experience of living in a new and fascinating culture. You'll travel with a real purpose, one which will help you learn and grow as a caring individual. One which will allow you to give something back as you try out a range of possible future careers - teaching, social work, nursery nursing or development work.

It's not all about work -there are beaches with opportunities to snorkel, surf and sunbathe, there are amazing sites to visit and potential for weekend tours to special places and local

festivals and events.

Schoolhouse supports and encourages fundraising efforts for placement costs and you can also apply to the Schoolhouse Trust fund for top-up funding.

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I'm a student

For an experience that makes really effective use of your time and provides a whole new insight into life, a volunteering placement might be the best way of spending your summer holidays. In fact, you might be ideally suited to volunteering in the Schoolhouse summer camps! (see home page).

Schoolhouse can advise and encourage fundraising efforts for your placements costs and you can also apply to the Schoolhouse Trust fund for top-up funding.

You'll be well supported and enabled to have an authentic experience living as part of the community in the developing world. You値l develop skills, work experience (in a variety of fields) and build your CV. You may even find some of your experiences directly relate to your course.

And don't worry - you won't be working all the time. Many Schoolhouse placements are in great locations, with opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, sun bathing and exploring national parks, rain forests and bustling towns and villages. You値l meet lots of people - locals and holidaymakers as well as other volunteers and combine your authentic experience with a fantastic holiday.

Potentially the best summer holiday you've ever had!

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I'm a graduate

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I'm unemployed

In the current economic downturn, there's a lot of unemployment about. Why not turn your unemployment into an opportunity to volunteer, to travel and to develop a whole new set of skills. These skills will be valuable throughout your life and they will certainly be very attractive to future potential employers.

You'll build a more interesting CV and gain a new outlook on life. Perhaps you'll find a whole new future direction - you may think about training as a teacher or going into care or development work. Schoolhouse can also provide a reference to help with future job applications.

You'll be a respected and integrated member of your host community where your contribution will be valued.

OK - you need some money to get started but you'll be able to fundraise for this and Schoolhouse is happy to help with ideas and encouragement. Schoolhouse is also in the process of establishing a trust fund to which volunteers can apply for help with placement costs. If you live in Scotland, you could qualify for a grant towards an additional course in teaching English as foreign language. This could lead to a whole new career in teaching English. Once in placement, your overheads will be minimal.

One thing's for sure - you won't be a statistic on the lengthening unemployment register. You'll have a memorable experience and you'll make a difference to the people you work with - giving yourself and them the chance of a better future.

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I'm thinking of becoming a teacher

A chance to dip your toes into the wonderful world of teaching may be just what you need to help you decide whether or not to take the plunge. Volunteering to teach English is a fantastic way to gain teaching experience in a pleasant environment with pupils who are respectful and keen to learn.

The Schoolhouse training course will give you the confidence to tackle teaching English as a foreign language - a teaching field in it's own right with excellent employment opportunities around the world and at home.

You'll get a feel for being in a school, being around teachers. You'll have a chance to develop lessons of your own and you'll gain an understanding of the many responsibilities of being a teacher. Indeed, if you池e willing to take on responsibility, there are opportunities to assume sole responsibility for classes quite soon. All of this will greatly enhance your CV and any application to teacher training at a later date.

And if you do go on to train as a teacher, you'll have a valuable insight into a different education system and understanding of life in a developing country. And as you learn, you'll be helping to improve the lives of the children you teach.

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I'm a teacher

Then, you're in for a treat! Teaching in these countries will challenge but re-inspire you. Students are highly motivated, full of respect for their teachers and work extremely hard for them. In these countries, education is the top priority for many families and children are keen to do their very best.

You may have extensive experience of primary or secondary teaching but you may not yet have taught English as a foreign language. Should you wish to volunteer in a teaching placement, then the Schoolhouse training programme will build on your many skills within education, allowing you to make a highly valued contribution. Most schools teach English and you'll complement this provision with more communicative lessons.

You'll meet dedicated local teachers who will be inspired by your presence in their schools. They are keen to learn about western teaching methods and will be delighted to discuss their own. Your experience, knowledge and understanding of life and education in the developing world will be of value in many ways when you return, re-energised to teaching in the west.

Volunteering can also be a great way to ease yourself back into teaching after a career break.

If you're newly qualified and haven稚 managed to find a suitable teaching post at home, then volunteering in a school can be a wonderful way to add to the breadth and depth of your classroom experience.

And of, course, you'll be contributing to the lives of children who see education as a route towards abetter future.

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I'm having a career-break

People take time out for different reasons and many employers encourage career breaks. While utilising existing skills, you'll gain new ones, such as adaptability, resourcefulness, cultural awareness and the ability to think on your feet. You値l find imaginative ways of working with limited resources.

At the same time you値l be inspired to challenge yourself and take problem solving to a new level. You値l return to your work situation with a mind broadened by the experience and be in a better position to contribute. If your career involves doing business in Asia or working in public services, your new cultural insights will be invaluable.

You may also need to recharge your batteries. You'll find a range of authentic relaxation therapies - from yoga and aruyveda to meditation and massage. Perhaps you値l spend quiet afternoons in sleepy villages or enjoy moonlit evenings on tropical beaches. You'll have time to catch up with yourself and re-evaluate your life. And you'll touch the lives of the people you work with, giving them a better chance of a better future.

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I'm at a Crossroads

Sometimes life leads to us a point where we want to stop and take stock. If you're in that position, perhaps the best thing you can do is have a complete change. Get out and see what else the world has to offer. Break the cycle. Travel. See new things. But do it with a purpose. Do it within a supportive framework that will provide focus. Do it with a mission in mind - do it to help others, including yourself.

You'll receive excellent training and preparation for your trip as well as excellent ongoing support.

Volunteering with some of the world's poorest people will help you to have a new perspective. And you'll be welcomed and accepted into these communities where your contribution will be greatly appreciated.

You'll find smiling, friendly people and if you're feeling disillusioned with life, they'll help put a smile back on your face. If you need to recover, to heal, put your life back together, you'll find healing therapies which you'll be able to tap into - massage, meditation, aruveyda.

If you want to talk about moving on in a way that will allow you to help others as you help yourself, then consider taking up a Schoolhouse placement.

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I'm retired

Then, you have a lot to offer! With your maturity, experience and work skills, you'll be a highly valued member of the community you volunteer in. Furthermore, in these cultures, older people are highly respected.

Perhaps you have always wanted to travel but never got round to it. Perhaps you have traveled extensively and want to get back to it. Perhaps you've never considered doing this sort of thing before but now feel this could be a step you壇 like to take. Whatever your circumstances, Schoolhouse offers a well-supported route into volunteering abroad. You'll find a sense of purpose and a fresh perspective on life.

You can escape long, cold winters (and high fuel bills), rent out or close up your home, take the car off the road and enjoy life in a warm, tropical climate, where it's not too hot and can even be pleasantly cool with sea breezes and mountain air.

The food is good with an abundance of fresh fish, fruit and vegetables. Access to top quality health and dental care is readily available and very affordable. The crime rate is low, the pace of life is slow and the people are among the friendliest on earth.

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I'm part of a family

Want to take your family and step outside the constraints of 'normal' family life? Want to take your family into an exciting new world that will open their eyes to a different way of life, open their eyes to a whole new set of reference points?

Do you want to have an adventure together, to offer quality time to your children, to have an experience that you'll remember for the rest of your life? Do you want to be challenged, to escape the familiar and the routine, do you want to contribute to children who through no fault of their own, have very little in their lives?

Then - go for it! Just because you've got kids, this doesn't need to stop you heading out to volunteer.

We'll support you, we'll make all the arrangements, we'll get the visas, the right accommodation, and the right placement in the right location at the right time for you and your family.

As a family you'll be a great attraction and will be warmly welcomed into the host community. Every family is different and depending on the ages and personalities of your children, there will be many different ways of absorbing them into their new lifestyles. You may want to share the volunteering role to allow for one adult to look after the children or, if you're a single parent, there are nurseries and local childcare solutions. Older children may like to get involved in your volunteering placement themselves. Depending on the duration of your placement, children have a choice of enrolling in a local international school or being home schooled. If you would like advice and support to home school, we can provide links to excellent home school organisations.

Family placements are in south Sri Lanka, giving wonderful opportunities to live life at a slow, relaxed pace, a life spent out of doors. It's a wonderful way to spend time together with your children - allowing everyone to grow and develop. Together, as a family.

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