With Lattitude, You are Never Alone – The Lattitude Ladder of Support
Challenge comes in many forms and there is one thing that is for sure, you will encounter some over the course of your placement. Facing these challenges and getting through them is where real personal growth happens. What seems insurmountable at the time, can be an opportunity to prove to yourself that you are more than you thought you might be. We expect that many of our volunteers are able to resolve issues on their own, but, even the most self-reliant and resilient ones need help sometimes!
As a youth development organization, Lattitude prides itself in providing supported volunteer placements abroad. The Lattitude ladder of support is designed to help volunteers with any degree of challenge from minor issues to something on the level we are seeing today with the COVID-19 pandemic. Generally, our ladder of support starts with those who are physically closest to you, then moves on outward as the amount of support needed increases. Most issues can be dealt with at your placement, but for those that can’t, we are here for you! With Lattitude, you never have to go it alone.
Level 1 – Fellow Volunteers & Placement Staff
All of our Country Immersion placements require volunteers to attend an orientation on arrival. These can range from a few days to a few weeks depending on location. Arrivals happen on the same day so volunteers can attend this orientation together. This is not just so you can meet our staff, adjust to your new surroundings, get over jet lag, learn about your new country’s culture, laws and customs, and complete visa, banking or other requirements – though these are huge benefits. One of the most important reasons for this orientation is for you to get to know your fellow volunteers. If you’d like to learn more about what happens at orientation, check out these recent blog posts detailing orientations in Canada, Poland, New Zealand, and Australia.
Your intake group provides a built-in network for you while you are on placement. Many of you will have met during your pre-departure briefings, on social media individually, or through our Facebook groups before you depart. Attending orientation together gives you a chance to make face-to-face connections, exchange information if you haven’t already, have some fun together, and continue building those friendships before you move on to your placements.
Many of you will go through similar experiences over the course of your placements. Most of you will feel homesick at some point or will have to deal with a bit of culture shock. You may have difficulties adjusting to your new surroundings or settling in. Having new friends in the same situation, experiencing many of the same things as you, will make these sharing and overcoming challenges that much easier.
Level 2 – Host Mentor at Placement
Every placement has a dedicated member of staff who is tasked with taking care of our volunteers and acting as their mentor. Your host mentor is your first point of contact for any issues that arise at your placement. You will have day-to-day contact with them and they are available to you for support and guidance.
Examples of things your host mentor can help with:
- Settling into your accommodation and making any adjustments
- Orienting you to the expectations of your role and rules at the placement
- On-the-job training and setting daily timetables
- Mediation in the unlikely event of a dispute with colleague or volunteer partner
- Scheduling time off
- Assistance with daily life and tips on things to see and do in your area
Level 3 – Lattitude Local Rep
In many countries, your closest Lattitude representative will be a part-time or volunteer member of staff allocated to a placement as a local point of contact. They will be based near the placement and will have excellent knowledge of the region. Your Local Rep will be your first point of contact at Lattitude for logistics or if there are practical difficulties at the placement.
Examples of things your Local Rep can help with:
- Logistical things, how to get around, banking, transport and local customs
- Assistance if you are feeling homesick
- If you need help with the local language or translation
- If you need in-person support or help resolving a dispute at your placement
Level 4 – Lattitude Country Manager
You will first meet your Country Manager early on in your Lattitude journey, as they conduct the second part of your two-step interview process (via video conferencing). Your Country Manager will get to know you in order to match you to your specific placement. They will also lead your incoming orientation on arrival.
Your country manager has overall responsibility for all the placements and for all of the volunteers in your host country. They will have vetted your placement and often they will have visited your placement many times. They are a paid Lattitude staff member and are based in the country itself.
Examples of when to contact your Country Manager:
- If the Local Representative is not available
- For larger issues or difficulties
- Any visa issues or delays in travel
- When you have scheduled a trip during holiday breaks, especially out of country
- When you are feeling homesick and need extra support
- If you are having issues with your physical or mental health
- If there is an issue with your placement that cannot be resolved through your Host Mentor
Level 5 – Lattitude Volunteer Coordinator
Your first direct contact with Lattitude is often during your first interview. This is usually held by your Volunteer Coordinator. Your VC is a paid member of staff who is the primary form of support and information pre-departure. They will help you prepare for your placement, gather all required documents, guide you through the visa process, lead your pre-departure briefing and keep you on track for departure. They are also responsible for supporting the Country Manager while you are away, and supporting volunteers if they are unable to solve an issue when overseas.
Examples of how your Volunteer Coordinator can help during your placement:
- Point of contact for parents
- If there is some issue at home you need support with
- If you have any trouble reaching your Country Manager or if they are unable to find the solutions you need
- If you would like to extend or take on a second placement
- For all other issues or if you are unable to contact any of the above
Level 6 – Lattitude Global Directors
Lattitude has a Senior Leadership Team that include Global Directors who manage programmes and operations on a higher level for the organization. They are based in the UK and New Zealand but support volunteers globally, no matter where those volunteers are from. The Directors will step in if their help is needed and have the authority and knowledge to make decisions on behalf of Lattitude. They are familiar with all country programs and government advisories in those regions.
In the unlikely scenario of volunteers facing a serious issue, our Directors are available to you. If you ever need to file a formal complaint these are the people you should reach out to. When the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic was realized, our Directors mobilized to provide round the clock support for our volunteers from liaising with embassies to working with travel agents, Country Managers and hosts.
24 Hour Emergency Line
Lattitude employs a 24 hour emergency line for volunteers and parents around the world. This line will reach one of our staff 24 hours a day. If you cannot reach any of the above or your parents need to reach someone immediately this line will connect you with help.
As you can see, our approach as a youth development organization is balancing volunteers’ independence with our duty of care. We know that traveling and living abroad is one of the most exhilarating and eye-opening experiences one can have, but it does come with a unique set of challenges. So instead of tackling this on your own, heading abroad with Lattitude gives you access to our caring and committed services to give you all levels of support you need to enjoy an enriching and independent experience abroad.