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Putting something back
  1. Gill Harris

Abstract

Vodafone World of Difference UK offers successful applicants the chance to make a difference in their community by receiving a two-month paid placement with a charity of their choice. Gill Harris reports

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VODAFONE World of Difference UK is a programme that allows people to work for a UK charity of their choice for two months – and be paid to do so. It is delivered and run by the Vodafone Foundation, which aims to place individuals in charities all over the UK, making a real difference to communities.

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Up to 500 placements will be available in 2011, and will allow successful applicants to work in a charity of their choice from March 2011. The scheme is open to anyone who will be over 18 by that time, is resident in the UK, and has the passion, drive and commitment to donate themselves to a charity. They could be a recent graduate looking for a challenge, a professional seeking a meaningful sabbatical, or a homemaker who wants to give some of their time.

Under the programme, the Vodafone Foundation will pay the charity selected by winning applicants a total of £2500. The balance will be paid to the individual once all taxes and National Insurance have been deducted. Winners will also get a new mobile phone and pre-paid credits so that they can contribute to the scheme's blog and share their experiences via Facebook and Twitter.

The website http://worldofdifference.vodafone.co.uk explains that the Vodafone Foundation aims to raise awareness of the work that charities do, in a way that's more meaningful and rewarding than simply writing a donation cheque. ‘We want to introduce passionate people to great causes and vice versa. The skills and experience of a World of Difference winner should be of far greater value to a charity than a donation of the same value. We also want to encourage people to think of the skills that they have – even if they aren't successful in their application; we hope it'll encourage people to think about volunteering for their favourite charity.’

Finding the right charity

The Vodafone Foundation points out that it is important to find the right charity: ‘If you are thinking of applying you need to consider your interests, skills and experience – what could you offer the charity? Are you an IT whizz? Are you good at building or making things? Whatever your skill set, it can most likely be applied to meaningful charity work. Next, think about what causes are close to your heart. Find out if there's a charity in your area or nationwide that matches your interest.’

Whether it's helping to protect abused animals, planting trees in urban areas, working with homeless outreach or providing essential assistance for those with mental health issues, the only criterion is that the organisation has to be a UK-registered charity.

For their applications to be considered, candidates will have to have approached the charity, gained its support and agreed a work plan. The website gives full details of how to apply. ‘The first thing to do is to contact the charity to see if they're interested in being involved with the programme. It's worth having a chat about how best you could assist them, as well as directing them to the charities page of the website so that they can fully understand the benefits of being involved.’

The charities will receive an extra employee for two months – and get the bene-fit of a skilled person joining their team. For small charities with only three workers, for example, that extra pair of hands could make a big difference.

Benefits

From the applicant's point of view, the Foundation points out that ‘As well as the chance to enhance your CV with some charitable work, World of Difference offers a potentially life-changing experience and a chance for you to apply your skills and learn new ones in a new environment.’

Applicants will need two referees and must provide their names and contact details on the application form. For applicants who already have a job, it will be up to them to make sabbatical or other arrangements with their current employer.

Applications can be made online and the closing date for entries is November 23. The successful 500 applicants will be contacted by e-mail during the week commencing January 17, 2011. Charity placements begin during March 2011, with an induction day on February 28.

International programme

World of Difference also runs an inter-national programme, where eight people win the chance to spend a year working abroad for their chosen charity. Details are available from the website.

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