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Raleigh International

About

We believe young people everywhere are able to change the world. So we create youth-driven change that lasts. We empower young people with the skills, experience and connections to be leaders of change.

One of the first Gap Year Association accredited UK programs, our Expeditions engage you in long lasting change on community, environmental and adventure leadership projects. These programs help tackle environmental issues, access to education for all, and alleviate poverty.

Live and work alongside local communities in Costa Rica, Nepal and Tanzania. Help find solutions to tackle some of the world’s problems together. Take on new challenge and learn skills that will stay with you for life.

Change Starts Here.

Founded
1984
Headquarters

52 Horseferry Road
Third Floor, Dean Bradley House
London
SW1P2AF
United Kingdom

2020 Programs now recruiting

Have a real volunteer experience you will never forget. Real people, real projects, real change.

We are now starting recruitment for our 2020 programs departing in February and June. Get in touch today to find out more.

Reviews

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Kate
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had such an incredible time on Raleigh. I met people I didn’t think I’d ever meet and did things I never thought I’d get the chance to do! Honestly, couldn’t recommend enough! Working in an NRM project was so beautiful and trekking across Costa Rica was challenging but so rewarding! Working with indigenous communities was so eye opening and I’m so grateful to have had the chance to go there. I have made incredible friends that I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life and I really hope that many more people will get to have the experience that I have had! The support and learning you receive throughout your Raleigh experience is invaluable. I feel I have developed so many different hard and soft skills, few of which I would ever have had the chance to develop had it not been for Raleigh. Thank you all so much!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
How much I learned in three months! I now know more about who I am and what I want to achieve in life! The most surprising thing was really how much you can be pushed to your limit and still succeed.
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Katya
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I went out in 2017 January to volunteer with young people and develop their leadership skills as well as try working in a different environment to that which i am used to. I learned lots about the Nepali culture, cuisine, language and way of life. Living in a rural community for 6 weeks and trekking through the Ruby valley for 3 weeks are among the best experiences of my life.

In the community we worked alongside qualified masons and trainee masons to build earthquake resistant homes for the community. Who received the homes was decided within the community. I was lucky enough to develop a positive relationship with one of the recipients of a home. She and her family were also involved in the building and learning how to build an earthquake resistant home. Hopefully they will take this knowledge and the skills forward and help others build their own homes built to resist destruction from an earthquake.

Seeing the young people develop over the 3 months was wonderful too. Some arrived shy and under confident and as they left they had gained positive skills enabling them to find employment or increase their social circles. This could be anyone with the support Raleigh offers to all the volunteers.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Listen to the host country volunteers, they have a wealth of knowledge and information to share.
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Sophie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I first heard about Raleigh International through school and as soon as I decided to take a gap year following school, I knew I wanted to embark on a Raleigh expedition. It was the best decision I have ever made!
Spending 10 weeks in Costa Rica and Nicaragua with Raleigh allowed me to experience new cultures, learn valuable communication, problem solving and organisational skills and meet a whole host of people I would never otherwise have met. To say that I was taken out of my comfort zone during my expedition would be an understatement- a Raleigh expedition will completely propel you from your comfort zone!!! From reinforcing paths and fixing bridges in the heart of a national park to making dream comes true for the local people with the addition of a gravity water system to hiking across breathtaking landscapes, every day on Raleigh is different. Some days will be harder than others and everyone will likely be affected by illness and feeling home sick at some point but the support and safety in place mean that sooner rather than later you will be feeling elated and in awe of the experience you are living! The projects take venturers and volunteer managers off the beaten track and allow you to experience parts of the country you would never be able to experience if you were travelling on your own or with a tour company. In addition the projects present the unique opportunity to live and work alongside local people to contribute towards the UN sustainable development goals.
I had always been very shy and reserved at school and I lacked a significant amount of self confidence but following my Raleigh expedition I arrived home a completely changed person (for the better!). Although vastly different it equipped me with so many of the skills I needed to completely my pharmacy degree and go on to begin my career as a pharmacist and I’m sure the same would be true regardless of the sector that you go on to work in. I guarantee you will absolutely not regret choosing Raleigh International.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Embrace every moment- take pictures and live in the now. Use your time on Raleigh to reflect on the things that matter and to grow yourself as a person- write in a journal, say yes to any new experience, put maximum effort into every project but most of all; don’t forget to look up and realise where your are! Costa Rica is full of some of the most amazing landscapes and people you will ever see or meet and you will sorely miss them when you are back home!
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Megan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This experience for me came when I needed it the most. The experience in leadership and team work that I gained on expedition I could take with me back into my day to day life.
The friendships I built through out this trip were life changing everyone had a different impact teaching me something new and helping me develop as a person. I felt safe though out and all of the instructors where amazing. The amount of effort put in to make sure we were safe and enjoying are experiene was above and beyond what I expected. I pushed my self mentally and physically at times especially during trek. However your group was always there to support you though the tough days and where there to celebrate the wins. Would definitely recommend Raleigh international (I want to do it all again)

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Ella
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Undertaking a 7 week expedition with Raleigh to Costa Rica and Nicaragua was the best thing I could have done with my year out. It not only gave me the chance to give back in some way and create lasting positive change, but also took me on a journey of personal development.

I lived and worked alongside the community of Los Llanitos in Nicaragua, to help them create a 7 km gravity-fed water system. Being fully immersed in the life of a rural Nicaraguan community was one of the best parts of my expedition, allowing me to build friendships and learn about a completed new culture, diversifying my knowledge and improving my Spanish to no end!
Although one of the most challenging experiences of my life to-date - expedition helped me develop a new confidence and willingness to challenge myself and others everywhere I go. I would recommend Raleigh expedition to anyone.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would stay for the full 10 week expedition - wouldn't want to miss a thing!

Programs

Displaying 1 - 3 of 3

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Sophie Rhodes

During a trip to Malaysian Borneo in 2012, Sophie fell in love with travelling and has since developed a passion for seeing parts of the world less often sampled by tourists. She relishes the chance to learn about new cultures and customs in every place to which she travels and has developed a particular love affair with Latin America thanks to its vibrant cities and rich history!

Why did you choose this program?

I already had experience with Raleigh International following a 3-week expedition to Borneo with them while I was still at school, so I knew that their expeditions were well structured and organized. When I decided to travel during my gap year between school and university, I knew I wanted to do something worthwhile that would also allow me to see parts of the world that were off the tourist trail, as well as push me to do something that was out of my comfort zone - Raleigh was perfect, and from my previous experience with them I knew that I would be supported and kept safe the whole time.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

As soon as my application to join an expedition was reviewed and accepted and I had paid my deposit, I was sent an information pack by Raleigh International which contained all of the information I needed to know about how to prepare for my expedition.

The guidance touched on everything, from which vaccinations I required and what kit to pack to how much money to take with me and when and where to book my flights to and from. I was given the contact details of a member of staff at Raleigh head office who could help me with fundraising ideas and provide me with support in the lead up to my expedition. Raleigh also set up a Facebook group for all of the volunteers that would be traveling on my expedition so that we could get to know each other beforehand and coordinate our flights so we didn’t have to travel alone.

Raleigh covers all in-country expenses, including travel insurance for all volunteers, so the only things I had to organize myself were vaccinations and flights, but as mentioned before, Raleigh was on hand to offer guidance on this where required.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Try and make the most of every single day on the expedition! Accept that, just as in your day to day life, some days will be better than others and realize that the highs and lows you experience will be heightened but don’t forget where you are. You may never again get the opportunity to have those experiences and they only make you a stronger and more rounded individual. It’s so easy to trek for 19 days and stare at your feet the whole time but remember to look up because the views will take your breath away! Play with the local children, try the food you’re not sure about and embrace the adventure!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

No two days are the same on a Raleigh expedition and the structure of each day is dependent on whether you are on your environmental, community or adventure (trek) phase. Typically, days on expedition start early so that you can avoid the midday heat whilst working on the project sites or trekking. Breakfast will consist of porridge or rice pudding (or whatever else you can concoct from the ingredients provided to you by the Raleigh team) or, if you are sleeping in a homestay, maybe more traditional local food. Lunch and dinner will also be cooked by yourself and your fellow volunteers so try and get creative where you can!

During your downtime, when you are not working on the project sites or trekking, you can choose to do what you like, although most volunteers opt to play card and other games together in the evening. Some use this as an opportunity to write in their journals or take some time alone or reflect on their day. If you are staying among the local people, you may have the chance to attend church services, teach English and even play a game of football with the children during your time off. Days on Raleigh are tiring and more often than not quite physically demanding so most of the time you will find yourself tucked up in your sleeping bag well before 9 pm!

The projects themselves involve a lot of manual labor such as digging trenches, mixing and laying concrete and occasionally carrying heavy loads but guidance is provided throughout and Raleigh works closely with the local people and cooperatives to ensure that everyone is supported and knows what they are doing.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear before going away on the expedition was that I would feel really alone and homesick and wouldn’t make any friends. Once I arrived, however, I quickly realized that everyone else shared my fears and we were all in the same boat, and from that point onwards, my worries disappeared.

Nobody knew me beforehand; therefore, no one had any preconceptions about who I was and I was free to be myself without people judging me for the shy, somewhat guarded girl I was at school. This helped my self-confidence immensely because I was able to see that I could make friends easily and I did have a good sense of humor or I was likable (which I had never fully believed when I was growing up).

Because of Raleigh International, I am so much more confident in myself now and whenever I travel now, one of the last things I worry about is whether I will make friends because I know that I most likely will.

Any last thoughts?

A Raleigh expedition is a challenge and most volunteers are tested mentally, physically and emotionally at some point during their time away. However, my expedition was undoubtedly the most rewarding thing I have ever done.

I will never be able to shake the pure unadulterated joy and excitement I felt when I turned on the taps outside of our host family’s house (following the construction of a gravity-fed water system) and was told that it was something that they had waited their entire lives for, something they considered to be a dream come true. Raleigh expeditions not only have a lasting impact on those who volunteer: they also have a lasting and established impact on the communities involved in them and that is what I love the most about this charity.

My expedition was over 5 years ago now, but I still speak at information events for prospective volunteers in London because I still remain so passionate about what they do and the experiences they offer through their programs. It’s safe to say Raleigh International was and still remains a big part of my journey!

More Interviews

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Georgia Walkden

Job Title
Events, Recruitment and Marketing Coordinator
The Events, Recruitment and Marketing Coordinator is responsible for hosting the information events, visiting schools to deliver presentations on gap years and helping anyone who is thinking of applying to go on a Raleigh International Expedition.

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favourite travel memory has to be from my Raleigh Expedition to Tanzania. My favorite phase was by far the trek. It was something at the beginning that I was so nervous about. I am not a trekker, but I loved the opportunity to see so much of Iringa, while meeting new communities everywhere we went. I did get quite bad blisters on trek but my team really helped me. We really worked together and I remember at one point they took everything out of my bag so that I didn't have to carry any weight. I was so thankful to them for that.

In order to get to our trek route, we had to travel through a national park. As soon as we entered the park, we saw elephants, giraffes and zebras! It was amazing to see the animals in the natural habitat and something I will remember forever. We had guides with us on our trek who were amazing. They were pointing out weird and wonderful things that we otherwise wouldn't have even looked twice at.

Overall, trek really helped me develop as a person and it is something that has changed my life.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I have definitely grown since working for Raleigh International. Before my job here, I had some experience of public speaking, but I had probably never delivered a presentation to more than 50 people.

At Raleigh, this is something I do on a weekly basis to groups as big as 200. It has helped my confidence grow massively and each time I can feel myself growing even better.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

The best story I have heard from a returning student was from one of our Dutch volunteers. She went to Tanzania and had an incredible time and had an amazing bond with her home stay family. They welcomed her in with open arms. The following year after Expedition, she independently travelled back to Tanzania to visit her home stay family again.

She told me that Raleigh has changed her life, and going forward she wants a career focused in sustainable development. What an amazing thing to come out of a 10 week Expedition.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I have already been on a Raleigh International Expedition to Tanzania before I worked for them. I had such an incredible time that it lead me to apply for this job so I can share my experiences with as many people as possible.

If I was to go on another Expedition, I would chose Costa Rica. The opportunity to work right in the heart of the national parks would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I'd also really love the opportunity to speak with the communities members about organic composting, including how they can make their own organic composting patch at home.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Being a part of Raleigh International is being a part of a family.

Because we have been running our Expeditions for 35 years, we know what we're doing and safety is still to this day at the heart of everything we do.

When our volunteers go on an Raleigh Expedition, they're living right in the hearts of the communities. They also get the opportunity to visit incredible parts of the countries that we work in that aren't accessible to tourists.

We offer a number of different projects to our volunteers, including community, environment and adventure. The community and environment focus very much on the sustainability of the countries that we work in, and then there's our adventure project. This is all about the volunteers personal development. They will work in a team navigating their way across stunning landscapes. They will also get the opportunity to be the leader of the group for a day. They will decide things such as how far they plan to walk, where it is they want to set up camp and once they have arrived, who's doing which jobs. Who will be cooking that evening, collecting the water, putting the tents up etc. There is a lot more to trek than just trekking.

Another thing that makes a Raleigh Expedition unique is that it is available for people all over the world. As an international organisation, we have volunteers come from the UK and we have volunteers come from each country that we work in. We also have volunteers from the US, The Netherlands, Germany and Australia, to name a few. It is an incredibly international programme.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Safety. As I previously mentioned, safety is at the heart of everything we do. Volunteers go on our Expeditions knowing that they will be safe and will have an amazing experience.

I also think that offering a variety of lengths for our Expeditions is a great factor. Sometime volunteers want just a couple of weeks away during the summer months and we can provide them with that. I personally would always recommend going for 10 weeks if they can. Then they have the opportunity to get involved in everything.

What's great about Expedition as well is that the volunteer have the opportunity to travel before and after our programs too. Most often, they will do it after; they will make such incredibly friendships on Expedition that they will spend their time after Expedition visiting neighboring countries with each other, creating even more memories.

More Interviews

Professional Associations

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