About Projects Abroad
Where it all started
In the early 1990s some students wanted a break from study – a "gap year", although the term wasn't yet in common use. They approached their geography professor, Peter Slowe, about travelling and working in Eastern Europe. It was hard to find opportunities for travel combined with work experience, so Peter set about arranging for the students to go and teach English in Romania where he knew some fellow geographers. This was how Projects Abroad began in 1992.
Until 1997, we were a small, family-run organisation with just two part-time staff sending university students to teach English in Eastern Europe. But with more and more people taking time out on academic and work-related breaks, and with many developing countries in need of self-funded volunteers, our organised volunteer programmes started to mushroom around the world. Our volunteers can still teach English in Eastern Europe, but can also do many other types of work in many other places.
Projects Abroad today
Projects Abroad is still a family-run business, but twenty people now work in our office in Sussex, not far from the university where Peter Slowe used to teach. With over 600 trained staff in our destinations, and offering over 100 generic placements and a wide choice within these placements, we are now the world's leading overseas volunteering and gap-year organisation.
We also have recruitment staff working around the world, including offices all over Europe and further afield, from Tokyo to Toronto and from Adelaide to New York.
Projects Abroad volunteers are aged from 16 to 75! Gap year volunteers and recent graduates still make up our largest numbers, but increasing numbers of volunteers join us in the summer holidays before starting university or while still in the 6th form at school or college. Many career breakers join us to take some time out volunteering and increasingly retired people also choose to spend some time on our projects.
"Last year, we channelled into less developed countries the energy, skills and commitment of some 8,500 volunteers, not to mention over £12,000,000. This is a major achievement."
Dr Peter Slowe
Founder and Director of Projects Abroad.
Projects Abroad in the global economy
We help to create local employment wherever we send volunteers. We employ many people directly and provide plenty of work indirectly through the services we provide for volunteers. We have also devolved various "Head Office" functions, such as management accountancy which is done in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and Design which is done in Mexico.
Having so many colleagues around the world means that we have an extensive network of local knowledge, enabling us to channel the skills of our volunteers to places they are really needed.
Cultural exchange and freedom of choice
Volunteers learn from their chosen placements and from the people they meet and vice versa. Mutual learning and mutual respect is what cultural exchange is all about.
We are truly global in our outlook. We welcome approaches from potential partners – schools, orphanages, hospitals and so on – from across the developing world; wherever they are or whatever they do, we will try to meet their needs. And we welcome ideas from potential volunteers too; if a volunteer has an idea for a new programme or a new destination, we will do everything we can to enable them to work in their own way. We will cherish their ideas and we will meet their requirements. We believe that flexibility on our part is a necessary consequence of our respect for our partners and our respect for volunteers.
The Projects Abroad Group
Projects Abroad (UK) Ltd, Projects Abroad (Europe) Ltd and Projects Abroad Travel Ltd are all members of The Projects Abroad Group and are all companies registered in England.