Our volunteers' health, safety and security is our first priority.
Before placing volunteers into projects we take a number of steps to minimise the risk of placements, from assessing the locations we work in, to training our volunteers and staff to know how to keep themselves and others safe. Accidents and incidents can still happen on placement, and below are the steps that ICS takes to reduce the likelihood of these, and to respond quickly when necessary.
We begin by ensuring that we select appropriate places to work. ICS partners conduct risk assessments at a country and community level for all placements, including every host home that volunteers live in. These assessments are conducted at least annually and cover all aspects of our volunteers’ life on placement including where they will live and work and how they will travel to and from their placements.
We have incident and crisis management plans in place so we are prepared to respond to unexpected situations, and we regularly carry-out internal assessments of our preparedness.
Our staff visit all relevant medical facilities in advance to ensure that we know what options are available should an incident occur.
All ICS partners have a permanent presence in each of the countries they are working in, which includes full-time staff, an office and vehicles. This ensures we have access to the most up-to-date information, and can respond quickly to changing situations. ICS partners maintain good relationships with national governments and local authorities, as well as with local medical facilities to ensure we can react quickly in the rare occasions this is necessary.
If you wish to keep up to date yourself on the latest travel advice for the country you intend to volunteer in, visit the FCO advice page.
All ICS volunteers receive comprehensive safety and security training before their placement, and when they arrive in their community. This includes understanding the steps they can take to keep themselves safe on placement, knowing key do’s and don’ts in the communities we work in, and the support that is available to volunteers throughout their time on placement.
All ICS agencies have a code of conduct, or volunteer agreement that all volunteers sign and must follow during their time on ICS. These have been developed to help keep volunteers safe and to set clear boundaries of what you can and can’t do on ICS. When incidents do occur on ICS, agencies reflect on what they can learn from them to make sure the volunteer agreement is appropriate, proportionate and effective in keeping volunteers safe. For example, when joining ICS all volunteers are agreeing to not drink alcohol while on placement, keep to a locally agreed curfew and remain in the community throughout their placement, unless travelling for placement purposes. These regulations are in place to keep volunteers safe and are discussed in detail in safety and security sessions during volunteer training.
We provide comprehensive medical and personal accident insurance cover for all volunteers. In addition to providing the sort of cover you would expect from standard medical insurance, this gives ICS agencies access to a medical assistance company that works with us to manage any serious medical issues, using local medical infrastructure and, if needed, repatriation to the volunteer’s home country.
All ICS agencies operates a 24-hour on call system to support our country teams but also for emergency contact by volunteers’ next of kin, while they are on placement. Should an emergency arise that means you need to contact your friend or family member while they are volunteering you can do this through the ICS partner they are volunteering with. This system can also be used to contact volunteers’ emergency contacts in the unlikely event we need to.
When applying for a place on ICS we ask all volunteers to give the contact details of two people who are responsible adults, able to take important calls in case of an emergency.