Lattitude COVID-19 Update

Posted on the 18th March 2020

Over a short period, COVID-19 has rapidly progressed from an isolated health concern to a global pandemic, and the situation is changing by the hour. It’s an uncertain time to be sure, but Lattitude Global Volunteering has been working hard to stay abreast of the situation as it unfolds.

As a registered youth development charity, we are taking the spread of this virus very seriously, and the health and safety of our young volunteers abroad is of paramount importance to us.

Our dedicated global team have been in regular communication with our current volunteers around the world. Due to the unique nature of our host family arrangements in several of our countries, some of our volunteers have been able to stay on placement and are being well looked after by our amazing hosts. However, many more have needed to return home early, and we thank everyone for their understanding and resilience as we all grapple with these extraordinary times. We are pleased to inform you that to date there are zero reports of Lattitude volunteers contracting the virus.

We know that many people back home have plans to volunteer abroad with us in the future, and while there are still many unknowns, we have tried our best to address the most common concerns here.

Is Lattitude still accepting applications for 2020?

We have put a hold on all departure groups scheduled to depart before July 2020. Due to government border closures, all departures for at least the next 8 weeks have now been postponed.

Currently, we are operating under the assumption that July groups could be affected also, and are preparing for alternative options should that be the case.

Lattitude is optimistically planning for a return to normal programming from September 2020, but, of course, we will be constantly reassessing as the year goes on.

I am planning to apply with Lattitude to head overseas in 2021.
Should I still apply?

The short answer is – YES!

With all the coverage of COVID-19 in the media at present, we understand that considering international travel in the future isn’t everyone’s priority right now.

However, it’s important to keep perspective and realise that 2021 is a long way off. Although the World Health Organisation and the scientific community are unable to pinpoint at this stage when the virus is likely to reach its peak, we (alongside all other organisations and businesses) are certainly operating under the assumption that things will return to normal with time.

Please be aware that the only financial commitment required to get your application underway is to pay our online application fee.

Will my interview still go ahead?

Of course! All our applicants are guaranteed an interview. To assist government-led “social-distancing” initiatives to curb the spread of the virus, we have implemented a few new organisation-wide policies to be as responsible as possible towards you and also our staff.

Interviews will now take place via video conferencing – a great alternative as we make responsible moves to help “flatten the curve.” Interviews will still run for approx. one hour, and of course your parents/guardians are still able to join in at the end – and now, you will be able to do so in the comfort of your own home. You will be sent an invite link to join the interview as part of our initial email shortly after we receive your application.

What happens after my interview?

Business as usual so far! You will have a secondary interview, again via video conferencing, with our staff in your chosen destination. Once you have been accepted, you will be emailed an official offer letter, along with an invoice to pay your deposit to secure your position in our programme.

Is my deposit refundable if COVID-19 issues are on-going?

Under normal circumstances, this is a non-refundable deposit. However, due to the uncertain timeframe of COVID-19 travel restrictions etc, we have adopted a more flexible approach to ensure there is no financial risk to our volunteers proceeding with their Lattitude travel plans.

Your deposit will be refundable if: You have paid your deposit after 11 March 2020 (the date WHO declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic) and if nearing your scheduled departure, government advice deems that your destination country is still unsafe to travel to.

The remainder of the Lattitude fee will not be due until 60 days prior to your scheduled departure.

Will my preparations continue as usual?

Once you have accepted your offer, you will be assigned a Volunteer Coordinator who is there to guide you through all your preparations. They will be constantly monitoring government advice on your behalf, both at home and in conjunction with Lattitude staff based in your destination. They will keep you informed of new developments such as changes in flight availability and border restriction changes as they occur, as well as other developments unique to the COVID-19 situation.

Most of our standardised processes will take place as per normal, with briefing documents supplied to you, and advice given on completing administrative tasks such as police checks, medicals etc. Flights, insurance and visa application details will be outlined to you when available and required.

All previously scheduled events will now be conducted via video conferencing and other online methods until further notice, including information sessions, interviews and pre-departure briefing seminars.

Can I alter my travel plans due to COVID-19 issues?

Lattitude is planning for a return to normal programming from July 2020 at the earliest. We will be constantly reassessing as the year goes on.

With our wide range of destinations, all with locally-based staff,  Lattitude is able to be flexible and adapt to situations quickly. We ask on your application form for you to choose your top three destinations – now more than ever, it’s a great time to have a “plan-B” should the unlikely need arise.

If you are still unable to travel to your first-choice destination, we can work with you to look at alternative destinations at short notice. In the unprecedented scenario of no appropriate departures being available, we will look to reschedule, offer you the opportunity of deferring, or refunds will be made available.

 


 

We hope this provides some reassurance that, with several viable alternatives open to you, you’ll still be able to depart on your year-of-a-lifetime overseas. We plan to continue recruiting for future departure groups to ensure we have Lattitude volunteers available for our hosts. Our partner organisations will be more reliant than ever on the assistance Lattitude provides when the situation returns to normal.

With a new, more flexible approach and our ability to pivot quickly when needed, our ultimate goal is to provide you with the confidence you need to look positively to the future. We look forward to having you join our team of over 47,000 young volunteers who have successfully navigated an ever-changing world under our pastoral support and guidance.

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