Expedition COVID-19 update

Last updated 27/02/2021

Expeditions – we are very excited for our Expeditions to start again in Costa Rica and Nepal this year, with the first to run in summer 2021.

As positive news continues around lockdowns being eased and vaccinations being received, we will continue to prepare COVID-adapted programmes to best ensure the safety of our communities, staff and volunteers.

We are continuing to review and monitor advice provided by the World Health Organisation, UK government, and relevant authorities in our countries of operation, our operational plans and protocols, how international travel resumes, and local contexts over the next few months and will keep everyone up to date with any changes / adaptations we may need to make to ensure safe and impactful Expeditions.

Re:Green UK – This programme will start this summer after restrictions are eased.  We will ensure that all relevant Covid protocols at that time are followed to enable a safe and impactful programme.

How we responded so far

In March 2020, we suspended our 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.  For the safety of our volunteers, staff, partners and the communities we work with, we also made the difficult decision to reschedule our international programmes later in 2020 and in early 2021.

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 – Expedition

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.  We will give finalised, full detailed guidance prior to the upcoming Expeditions, but for your safety and that of others, the measures are likely to be the following:

Before Expedition

  • 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 the programme country before 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 June 2021.​
  • Requiring volunteers to bring at least 7 reusable fabric face coverings. ​

During Expedition

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 ‘groups’ for the Expedition.
  • Maintain 1 metre 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 volunteer accommodation – these may be community centres and tents, but not homestays​.
  • Briefings with 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 government requirements.
  • Continue to run with high standards of hygiene and handwashing.
  • Require volunteers to always wear their reusable face coverings, especially when interacting with those outside their Expedition group.
  • 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 International are forced to reschedule the programme due to Covid-19?

You will be able to secure your place with confidence; if we have to reschedule 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 can’t travel due to travel bans or quarantine restrictions, then we’ll offer you the option to transfer your place to an alternative programme within the next 18 months.

What happens if I get Covid-19 just before Expedition 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 18 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 International 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 Covid and 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.