How it works

How it works










The “Living and Learning Abroad” project has been coordinated by BET since 2008 and
is the basis of the current Transfer of Innovation (TOI) “Mutual Assistance” project.

The very ethos of “Living and Learning Abroad”  
is mutual assistance.

The results are very promising -  82% (2009)  and 84% (2010 and 2011)
of the disadvantaged Young People that participated  have now entered in to
Education, Volunteering or Employment.


While information about the “Living and Learning Abroad” can be derived from other sections of this website, here we will look at the different phases of an actual mutual assistance mobility in much greater detail and from a more practical perspective. Please note all this information is specific to the “Living and Learning Abroad”, but it can be easily adapted to suit other country and NGO
specific requirements.

 PHASE 1: Research and Partner Matching


This phase can be split into two in light of the activities that take place simultaneously in the SENDING and HOSTING COUNTRY . 

In the SENDING COUNTRY it is imperative we enlist the appropriate UK partner. We use referrals from existing partners, including such sources as the Charity Commission, the YMCA network, and organisations that provide supported accommodation for homeless young people. If the potential partner is interested – we would arrange for a representative of ours to visit them, where possible it is best to also have the chance to meet with a sample of the young people they work with.

On this visit the suitability of the UK partner is assessed; also the UK partner checklist is completed by the BET representative undertaking the visit.

A Letter of Intent and an Organisation Profile are compiled, and constant contact is kept between the UK partner and BET.

The UK Partner Information Pack is a useful document which we advise our partners to read carefully. We would also provide the sending organisations with links to our website and information regarding the necessary paperwork; please find here an example Step 1.

Evolved through previous projects is a large network of partners who do re-occurring team challenges due to the benefits received from the project.

From the outset UK partners are made aware of our ethos & modus operandi. The duties, rights and responsibilities of both BET and the UK partner are clearly identified in our UK Partner Information Pack. Should it be considered that the UK partner or their prospective young people would not benefit - other areas of cooperation are explored i.e. UK volunteering, etc.

After matching with a suitable UK partner the next important step is recruiting suitable participants through the UK partner. We assist the UK partner with advise, guidance as well as materials such as Presentations and Recruitment Posters and links as indicated above. Once the UK partner is fully aware with the regulations and the project we ask them to sign an agreement .

The selection of young people is in close cooperation with the UK partners and aided by an application form to determine their suitability; selection days and short interviews are often organised. It is important young people feel they have been selected & demonstrate the required motivation to warrant this selection.

If the project is not suitable for the prospective young people they are sign posted onto another organisation, i.e. UK volunteering, rehabilitation.

A further important element is to ensure the prospective participants are familiar and fully accept the objectives and ethos of the project, they are required to sign an agreement, which clearly identifies BET’s and the participants rights, obligations and duties.


During the same phase in the HOSTING COUNTRY our host partner (an organisation that works with a number of social institutions in their country – currently a large NGO in Bulgaria and a local authority in Turkey) would research a number of social institutions and arrange to visit the ones that have been assessed as appropriate. Choosing the most appropriate social institutions and where to host a future group is a comprehensive process, which involves analysis of a number of factors, including: target group, motivation of staff and director, living conditions, location, infrastructure in the area, distance to accommodation, etc. We have found that the orphanages requiring the most assistance are often rurally located which naturally leads to logistic problems, with reference to locating suitable accommodation that complies with our health and safety requirements and also arranging suitable transportation.  All these however can be resolved with appropriate planning. During the visit to the social institutions a number of forms is also completed, including: Orphanage Initial Questionnaire (including details about the institution and the type of activities participants could undertake there. The form is completed for you as an example), Overseas Risk Management Form (Health and Safety),Accommodation Checklist.
It has also proven useful to have
an agreement signed by the Host Partner and the actual hosting social institution – this does not need to be in any specific format, but it is good to have it for both parties – the social institution can show higher authorities that they take care of the legal side of things and the interests of their target group, from the NGO side this is also beneficial as it documents the right and responsibilities of each party (Orphanage Agreement).

During the visit to the social institution our host partner would also take plenty of pictures and videos, which would later contribute to the resource centre. Please refer to the link TurkishStep 1  (or Bulgarian Step 1)

PHASE 2: Preparation

This is a crucial element to the overall success of the project as this stage fully acquaints the participants with the project, familiarizing them with the host country, preventing premature returns to the UK.

During this phase to assist with the SENDING country participants recruitment, we continue to direct the organisations to the following  link (taking Turkey as an example) TurkishStep1  in order to minimize the steps necessary all the initial information they require are contained  in the link including:

  • Links to our resource centre and the actual project (Videos, pictures etc are uploaded)
  • Do you need to fundraise
  • Invitations to our facebook (groups so communication can take place at peer to peer level)
  • Information packs
  • BET policies
  • Posters
  • Insurance policy

Once the organisation have confirmed they are interested if they have not already done so will at this stage complete and send to us the following documents:

  • Letters of intent
  • Organisational profile
  • Basic Enrolment forms

Once we receive the completed Basic Enrollment forms allowing us to then agree the dates
with the hosting partner and book flights and transport to the airport. We book flights using a travel agency, as this minimizes certain risks and also we can obtain proper financial documentation from them such as invoices, confirmation of bookings, etc.

Our next step is to consider the reservation stage, again and in order to minimize administration we have used a link for this please refer to the following Reservation for further details here we include the following:

  • A guide explaining all the forms, if they are mandatory and how to send back
  • The learning record the participants will need to complete (please refer to 2.2)
  • Signed agreements (confirming individuals commitment to the program)
  • Full group details (Helping produce their profiles, also indicating such issues as medication)
  • Further policies such as drug policies
  • Details regarding criminal records
  • Check list

Risk Assessments and CRB checks (where necessary) are left to the discretion of the UK partner, furthermore the Full Enrollment Forms however are crucial for creation an individual profile of each young person not only this, the forms inform us and the host partner about any medical or health issues pertaining to the participants and provides information about their socio-economic background, but also it assist the preparation of their CVs, also their expressed aspirations and desires can indeed lead to project adjustments including the contents of the careers seminar, introducing topics and activities that could be more suited to the participants. Finally the Checklist should be received  as confirmation of the readiness of the UK partner.

Consequently the initial preparation is adaptable to the needs and ability of the group. A minimum of 36 hours with support provided by the accompanying people within  the participants’ own community, including: self assessment to identify individual needs and preparing for the placement experience, encompassing inter cultural games, action planning, researching the host country customs and traditions, language learning, living in the UK & what is Europe? A complete learning exercise - forms the first part of our Learning record in preparation for the nationally recognised qualification. A visit is again arranged by a BET representative to give talks to the participants and answer queries, also young people taste the cuisine of the host country, learning in an entertaining way, furthermore, they learn from peers who have already visited and are encouraged to join our internet peer –peer forum (Facebook group). The pictures and videos prepared by the host partner (as indicated in the links above) about the project and surrounding areas help to fully acquaint the young people and give them a sense of reality; comprehensive info packs on each project and hosting country are accessible through the internet from our resource centres, which also include video language lessons. Please follow the links:

Resource center Turkey

Resource center Bulgaria


It is also during this phase where we strongly advise the UK partner to organize activities and raise
a minimum of £100 in sponsorship per member of the team, including the team leaders (e.g.10 young people + 2 team leaders = £1200) which they will use to purchase the materials for the placement. This not only provides the budget for materials, but has numerous other benefits including ownership of the project, makes the young people plan ahead , encouraging the young people to take their participation on the project seriously, nurtures skills such as budgeting, action planning and entrepreneurship. The fundraised budget remains with the team leaders at all times and it is
totally at the discretion of the team how they will manage it, more information in our Fundraising Guide.

If deemed necessary the UK partner can also organise a residential – a 2 or 3 day seminar involving all participants and team leaders, having this seminar totally dedicated on preparation activities.

Simultaneously in the HOSTING COUNTRY our partner would be communicating with the social institution that is to host the participants, book accommodation, local travel and make all logistical
arrangements for the placement, including study and presentation rooms, excursions, research places for purchase of materials, etc. Welcome packs with essential information and  a timetable
included would be printed, in readiness to be distributed to participants upon arrival. The host partner also prepares the budget and emails it to BET.

In our back office the resource centres and welcome page for this specific group would have been finalized, and work starts on preparing the CV for each participant in conjunction with their full enrollment form, Europass Mobility Documents and Bhagavat Certificates would be generated and printed and in general the Recognition Folder that is awarded at the end of the placement would be
ready.Participants would have also been registered online to the EC Mobility Tool; and indeed reminders sent to join the project Facebook group.

The budget once agreed is also transferred to the host partner no later than 10 days prior to the placement.

Please keep in mind that the preparation phase is absolutely crucial for the project. BET recommends that you pay special attention to it. Weak preparation can lead to many problems including unhappy participants, lack of discipline, drinking problems, early returns culminating in an unsuccessful project.

PHASE 3: Placement

As soon as the group arrives to their HOST COUNTRY they are picked up from the airport by the Host Partner and taken to the accommodation.

“This is an incredible opportunity for anyone, you will learn so much
  in such a short space of time and it will really open your eyes to other
  lifestyles and cultures. It also really helped me with my confidence in work
  and communicating with people.” Billy Kilpatrick, 04/09/2008 to 17/09/2008

A word about practicalities….The accommodation and meal arrangements vary according to the placements time and location, but in the general case participants are accommodated in at least a 3* hotel chosen by the host partner and on which they undertake a comprehensive risk assessment and an accommodation checklist; ensuring that such accommodation adheres to our minimum standards.

Due to the nature of the placement. i.e. “Team Challenge” we felt it was best that the whole group stay in the same hotel, rather than accommodating the participants in different flats around town. This would also not be possible due to the vulnerable nature of our participants and the need of supervision and support by the team leaders. Furthermore we always try and ensure the participants are on the same floor, with a member of BET staff remaining with the group 24/7. To ensure safety the fire escape instructions are provided in the sending countries language, ashtrays and telephones are removed.

The team of participants and accompanying people eat together during meal time in order to catch up and socialize. During the project we also provide the participants the opportunity for eating out, which many of them have not experienced before due to their disadvantaged socio-economic background. Lunch is normally organised at the social institution itself, allowing two different
participants  to be in charge of the preparation, purchasing and budgeting every day contributing to the smooth running of the project itself, thus re-enforcing participants’ empowerment. 

"It was my first time abroad without my mum, which is a massive step for me- I have cerebral palsy and use a wheelchair. I feel more confident, the things I worried about before turned out not to be a big issue, I can now work better with other people and I can voice my opinions and needs much better now. This will be really beneficial in my future life and profession in animal care." 
Lauren Armstrong, June 2012, Bulgaria

Apart from the mandatory logistical elements such as food, accommodation and transport, BET also provides all it’s participants with a personal allowance (pocket money) which varies according to the country of the placement and the overall placement budget. Allowances are handed over to the team leaders, who would than distribute them to the participants on a daily basis, ensuring a signed copy for receipt is retained.

The first day of the placement is dedicated to welcome meetings, orientation in the local area, reinforcing the rights and responsibilities, team building and activities exploring the issues of inter cultural communication and identity. Language Learning is also an important topic of that first placement day.

The following day the group makes their first trip to the social institution hosting their placement, after an introduction by the director they would meet the residents (typically – orphaned children in Bulgaria or street children in Turkey) and have a thorough inspection around the place.  After consultation with the director, priority areas of work are identified, through a team meeting the actual work to be done by the team during the two weeks is identified. Typically in the past such jobs have included painting and renovating common areas such as corridors, entrances, stairs, playrooms, libraries and dining rooms – after some skimming a fresh lick of warm, cosy paint would be put, followed by murals, wall stencils and cartoon pictures. Other jobs have included gardening work, renovation of benches, gazebos and outdoor playgrounds. The interaction with the residents is also a central theme, several sports events or picnics are organized where everybody has fun together. Often we find that the staff of the institutions are enthused by the project and continue to paint morals on the windows to brighten the institutions.

A recent development has also been to introduce the concept of SME’s (small managed enterprises), where by BET with aid of the UK teams and the cooperation of the Hosting organization establishes workshops such as candle making, these items are produced and the items sold and the funds reinvested in the project.

BET provides a representative that speaks the host country language accompanying the group 24/7; acting not only as interpreter, but also mentor, social worker and coordinator, this person has a wealth of experience and is totally familiar with the needs of the participants.

Debriefing sessions are held at the end of every day, this allows discussion of events, progress and work distribution, but more importantly it allows participants to raise issues and concerns, preventing little problems growing bigger.

Excursions are organised so participants can learn more about the host country, for instance to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Rila Monastery in Bulgaria or the magnificent historical Istanbul in Turkey.

Please refer to the Model Timetable of a Placement for further details.

From educational perspective we have adopted the “BLENDED LEARNING” approach as it gives participants an environment to learn more effectively. Taking into account the needs of the young people we mix different learning environments including face-to-face instruction (one to ones), group
activities, work placement & vocational tasks (learning by doing), peer-to-peer learning as well as computer-mediated instruction (online researches & resource centres) & individual assignments 
to complete. Time is put aside for qualification work on regular intervals. As most of the participants are NEETs (Not in education, employment or training), we embrace their enthusiasm while on placement and this manifests itself in the participants completing a comprehensive learning record.


In the middle of the stay the careers seminar is held, where the participants not only learn about job searching, interview techniques and career progression, but also identify their desired next steps after they return home. Typically these have included joining a college or vocational course, finding employment in a certain sector or continuing with overseas or UK based voluntary work (as an opportunity to learn and gain experiences). Alongside the relevant learning record units the young people complete the following questionnaires: Bright future, Career Questionnaire and “Next steps Questionnaire and Feedback” which our experts (a psychologist and a career advisor) at the back office utilise to make enquires and schedule appointments for them after returning home.


Dealing with problems…. Due to the nature of our target group we have experienced
some problematic situations with participants in the past – alcohol
consumption, problematic behaviours, homesickness, etc…. Advice and guidence
on how to deal with these can be found in our Dealing with Problems section of
Host Partner Information Pack.

Towards the end of the second week the work is usually
completed and a small celebration is organised, handing what is done to the orphanage, who in turn organise a little farewell show for the UK participants, this is quite an emotional moment, media and local VIPs are often present.

The same evening in the hotel the final evaluation takes place (this is done in a variety of methods varying as the group specifics and dynamics are taken into consideration; but also on this evening the mandatory Participant Report that needs to be sent to the National Agency together with the final project report is completed), also during that night the Recognition Folder is awarder to each participant, containing the certificates and documents already mentioned, plus the summary of appointments made for each individual participant. It is also at this point where participants sign the Allowance Sheet.  After emotional speeches the farewell feast begins.

 The next day the group are taken to the airport and depart home.


PHASE 4: Post project

In the HOST COUNTRY within 10 days of the group departing the host  partner would fill in the Final Statement of Expenditure and email it to BET UK, who would than authorize payment of a balance if needed. All host partners are required to store the original invoices, receipt, tickets and all financial documentation relating to the group for a minimum period of 5 years  (in case of an audit).

From the participants perspective – the placements are 2 weeks long. However – the actual
duration of the project for an individual is indefinite, the support and advise offered in post placement phase is indefinite and this will continue regardless of future Leonardo funding. An experienced member of staff assist with the post project phase and often becomes their mentor.

The follow up phase focuses on participants:

  • Reflecting on their European placement
  • Gaining accreditation
  • Following up on the next steps identified
  • Attending appointments in the UK and starting employment
  • Volunteering, education, employment or apprenticeship.

Back at BET UK an evaluation meeting is held to assess the placement and the lessons learnt identifying further improvements; furthermore all paperwork is scanned to our secure server.

At relevant interval team leaders are contacted to provide updates with regards to participants’ outcomes and status post placement, evaluation surveys including soft skills are completed, contributing to the final project report.

 The qualification certification; the career seminar 

The idea for the present qualification was born many years ago when Bhagavat Educational Trust realized how much the work skills are important for the participants in the project for building a career and also for making progression in the right direction. The lack of well-developed work skills is the barrier to further progress on poverty not only in UK but all over the world.

The target jobs for the young people that Bhagavat Educational trust is recruiting before the project are usually low –paid, low- skilled and insecure jobs just because they couldn’t find the possibility to spend time developing their work skills and therefore gain better paid job positions. The relatively
high concentration of such “job openings” offers very little hope for individual progression. 

Bhagavat’s strategy was to encourage the young people in the right direction and help them to understand what the most suitable job opening is for them.  The best possible way of doing
this was to include a career seminar in the middle of the project (the beginning of the second week). The seminar developed into a qualification giving credits to each participant, and often being the first step of the academic ladder for the majority of them. Often these participants being
NEETs had dropped out of education at an early age so it is crucial we embrace their enthusiasm while on placement and nurture their academic abilities adopting a blended learning approach. After the introducing of the qualification – 100% of the young people enrolled have completed it successfully.

In the 21st century the natural resource is the people, especially the young people.  Bhagavat
Educational Trust believes that their potential is untapped and vast and that helping those people to develop the work skills will only unlock this potential. The prize for this will be phenomenal- higher productivity, creation of wealth, social justice. Without increased skills we are hindering the
economic growth and declining the competitiveness. This is why Bhagavat believes that the case for action should be compelling and urgent.  The work skills are in every single person and therefore they can be developed, practised and used. Therefore the career seminar and the further qualification can be considered as a huge step in the right direction not only for the young people but for Europe as well.

The career seminar and the qualification are not only part of the project today, they are also a tool the young people can use to find better paid position and therefore a tool to further progress on poverty.

The career seminar…

On returning home I was able to gain job interviews and at those interviews was more confident. I was able to sell my abilities of team work and motivation through talking about the project. I now work full time a my local supermarket.
John Pasthletwaite
12/10/2008 to 26/10/2008, Bulgaria

 The careers seminar at the beginning was all about the possibilities that the young people have back home for employment or for volunteering in UK or Abroad. The role of the Bhagavat team was to show the options and try to make appointments for every participant for a job or for a volunteering program.  Soon we realized how much more these people could be helped and along with the options for employment we started to discuss with them the interview, the interview skills and play mock
interviews at the end of the seminar. The results were very promising. The young people not only helped those in need but also started to realize that finding a job is not  simply something
you do to pay your bills, but also a big step that leads to a career.


After extensive research in the field it was decided to offer to all participants in
the “Living and Learning Abroad program” the possibility to undertake a City
and Guilds Qualification.

Why delivery Abroad?

The project requires participants to spend two weeks abroad, it is the desire of BET to put the young people in a fresh new environment, where they have better chances to develop their skills,
study and gain confidence without the burden of negative past associations. While aboard, the participants are working with a Psychologist, Career advisor, Project Coordinator, qualified teachers and trainers, and personal guide- translator who are at their disposal while on placement. The experience that BET has in the field exceeds 10 years, accordingly over 80% of the participants upon their return enter into employment,training or volunteering. These facts can only motivate Bhagavat Educational Trust to continue sending participants abroad and not only hat, but also enrol them on a
course that helps them build a better future.   

 The learning process abroad we believe is more successful for the young people for several reasons:

  • The young people are in a new environment; they don’t have any distractions and are helped to focus on the subject studied
  • The project itself is an activity adapted to the course they are taking, which motivates them to practice what they have learned in real time
  • They are surrounded by professionals in the field who are helping them nurture their skills and start to build a career in the area the area they desire
  • The participants are put in a non- formal environment, but still academic in nature, where they feel relaxed and supported by their teachers,trainers and peers. The result of this way of delivering is phenomenal. The results are actually what motivated BET to support this way of
    learning and working with the young people
  • The different atmosphere, the different culture and the different style of living the young people are placed in are motivating them to give a new meaning to their lives. They are in a position to help those that need help, while being helped, and this is what BET calls Mutual Assistance!       

“I think the certificates were very good and all people on the trip
  are very proud of them. I also found the possibility of further work abroad
  interesting. I hope to put the certificate to good use in the future”
Darren Hill, 20/04/2009 to 02/05/2009 Bulgaria


Although Bhagavat has been running this project for over 10 years, it is still innovative in its field and gives tremendous results. However we are developing and improving after every challenge and
therefore we welcome everyone to share ideas, improvements and comments.

 The SME

 A further development of the project ‘Living and Learning Abroad’ has been to introduce business ethics in to the organizations. Capitalizing on earlier experience gained from running the ‘Help Today Hope Tomorrow’ project, SME’s (Small Managed Enterprises) are being introduced, and the idea is for the enterprise to emulate a business.

Typical examples of such SME’s include Candle making in the Bulgarian Orphanage in Elin Pelin and also with the Roma community in Izmit, Turkey. 

The young people from the sending organization and the hosting organization are encouraged to participate in making the candles and encouraged to participate in the costing and pricing of the items after considering all costs both variable and fixed overheads.

A further element will be to assist with the marketing of the items, packaging and presentation will need to be considered along with the most appropriate outlets.

Planning will also need to be given to production of the items for instance in the run up to Christmas, appropriate items will need to be made such as Christmas cards etc.

Once the items are sold, the income will need to be reinvested in to the project in order to cover future materials and contribute to overheads.

Each organization will have the opportunity to retail the items on the mutual assistance website.

Thought will need also to be given to the organization and its young people, their resources, abilities and time availability of the staff. When the ‘Help Today Hope Tomorrow’ project was run, the young orphans would take every opportunity to participate in the project, nurturing their artistic abilities, several organizations reported that the project had a calming effect on the young people; often they would participate in selling the items themselves and even set up their own stalls.