Expedition COVID-19 update

Last updated 05/01/2020

As the world continues to respond and adapt to living with Coronavirus, we are continuing to plan to run COVID-adapted Raleigh Expedition programmes in Costa Rica and Nepal from April this year and throughout 2021.

As you can appreciate, the situation in the UK and the countries we operate in continues to change on a frequent basis. We constantly monitor the advice provided by the World Health Organisation, UK government, and relevant authorities in our countries of operation as we continue to prepare to restart our programmes.

How we responded in 2020

In March 2020, we suspended our spring international volunteering programmes as a result of the global pandemic. We are proud to have successfully and safely returned over 500 volunteers home from their various programme locations. In April and June, for the safety of our volunteers, staff, partners and the communities we work with, we also made the difficult decision to cancel our summer and autumn international programmes.

Our staff teams continue to work remotely at home or to a limited degree in each of our offices. Throughout we have remained fully connected and focused on restarting our international volunteering programmes and continuing to deliver our national volunteer programmes, where safe to do so.

Please see below the current answers to some frequently asked questions. Get in touch if you can’t find the answer you need.

Covid-19 Related FAQs

How is the Expedition programme being adapted to be Covid-secure and to keep volunteers and communities safe?

We are constantly monitoring and assessing the situation, here and in our countries of operation. We have permanent staff in each country that are in contact with local governments, embassies, and other authorities. We’ll only go ahead with our programmes when we know that we can maintain our high standards of safety and risk management. We continue to review and update our operational protocols to ensure we can work safely. Although these changes have yet to be finalised, they are likely to include:


We will give full detailed guidance prior to departure but for your safety and that of others, the measures are likely to be:

  • Enhanced medical screening protocols to ensure those more vulnerable to the virus are not unduly exposed to health risks.
  • Requirement for all volunteers to maintain strict physical distancing for 14 days before departure for the airport.
  • Declaration from volunteers that they have not had any COVID-19 symptoms prior to or since arriving in the programme country and agreement that they understand that if symptoms emerge, they will need to isolate in country prior to joining the Expedition.
  • Any other requirements imposed by the Expedition country local immigration, which may include completion of a COVID-19 test pre-departure and/or on arrival in the programme country; and in the case of Nepal an in-country quarantine period, if still in place by April 2021.
  • Requiring volunteers to bring at least 7 reusable fabric face coverings.


Overall, our principle will be to adapt programme delivery to a physically distanced model, being creative to ensure as few of the key ingredients of the Expedition experience are compromised as possible. However, the fundamental principles are to:​

  • Stagger arrival dates into ‘waves’ and place each volunteer team into ‘bubbles’ for the Expedition
  • Maintain 1metre physical distancing for the duration of the programme in addition to creating independent Expedition groups, limiting contact between other groups which will reduce the risk of transmission further. Individual responsibility will be key and acknowledged in protocols​ and training
  • Our travel providers will ensure physical distanced seating in vehicles throughout the programme ​
  • Identify isolation areas at all sites for those who may show symptoms of COVID-19 to rest and recover without risk of transmitting to others
  • Increase the proportion of medics available on our programmes​

In addition:​

  • More physical separation of Expedition participants from communities​
  • Use of dedicated accommodation – these might be community centres and tents, but not homestays​
  • Briefings for community members and partners so they can understand and support our protocols​
  • Implement our own enhanced mitigation protocols (e.g. use of PPE) to enhance existing local govt. requirements
  • Continue to run with high standards of hygiene and handwashing
  • Require volunteers to always wear their reusable face coverings when not eating, drinking, sleeping or washing. And when interacting with those outside their Expedition Group, while also being sensitive to local contexts ​
  • Monitor the way we and they will work with local communities to ensure we do not put them at any risk and review protocols as appropriate.

What happens if I were to sign up now to volunteer and Raleigh are forced to cancel the programme due to Covid-19?

You will be able to secure your place with confidence. If we have to cancel the programme in advance due to Covid-19, we’ll offer you an alternative programme so you’ll be able to defer your place to a future Raleigh Expedition. If you are unable to defer we’ll make sure you get fundraising contributions appropriately returned as per our Terms and Conditions. If you can’t travel due to travel bans or quarantine restrictions, then we’ll offer you the free option to defer to an alternative programme within the next 12 months.

What happens if I get Covid-19 just before departure date?

Please get in touch and let us know. It is essential you do not join if you have Covid-19. Depending on timing/ availability you may be able to join a later ‘wave’ a few weeks later, or defer to any Expedition over the next 12 months. If this is not possible, we may be able to return some of your fundraising contributions, pending medical evidence of the diagnosis.

Is Raleigh delivering any programmes that may help respond to the Covid-19 outbreak?

Our water, sanitation health and hygiene (WASH) programmes are already closely aligned to the type of projects that will be valuable in a post-Covid world. We will be working with project partners and communities to better understand how the needs may have changed and how we can tailor our projects and activities to support even more. More broadly, our non-Expedition programmes that work with national volunteers only are also being redeveloped to respond to this global issue.