Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) | Mission Direct

Are any locations dangerous?

No. We undertake clear health and safety risk assessments. We would never take you if we believed there was any foreseeable danger and we regularly check with the Foreign Office for the latest travel advice. Please contact us if you have any concerns at any time leading up to the trip or contact your volunteer manager.

How are you funded and how much goes in administration costs?

We are primarily funded by volunteers making contributions which cover all the trip costs.  In addition our volunteers raise funds for the projects.  We also rely on kind donors like you, who want to make that personal difference. Our Overseas staff cover all their costs personally and several of our UK staff offer their services for free or a small stipend.

Our projects are funded as 100% of all money volunteers raise goes to the project they are visiting. Where funds allow, the management team also allocate some undesignated funds to projects so as much as possible goes to help those we serve and we seek donations from individuals, trusts and others. We strive to be completely transparent about our finances. Our approach is set out in our accounts and summarised here.

How do you select your partners and projects?

This is the subject of careful thought and prayer.  The countries we work in have come through our leaders relationships.  In determining a suitable project we have key criteria we apply as to whether we can be of help.  This is linked to our values.  Typically we look for a group doing a great job and then look to join them in what they are doing.  For example, if a school is operating effectively under a mango tree, is well constituted and has land, we may be able to build a school.

If you would like more detail, then please ring us on 01582 720056.

How much spending money should I bring?

This is difficult to answer and depends on your personal circumstances and preferences.  The only things you really need additional cash for are buying souvenirs, certain drinks and for giving away.

At the end of your trip, we will provide you with a form that helps you consider if you wish to make any additional donations to any of the partners you have met on your journey.  Often volunteers are moved by one thing or another and want to contribute in a sensitive way, facilitated by our staff.  You may want to have some cash for this or simply make a pledge to give it or raise it on your return.

Where will we stay in country?

It is important to us that you get a good night’s sleep as the schedule, at times, can be busy. We look for good quality, clean and appropriate accommodation.  Depending on which country you visit, it can vary from a modern hotel with facilities, to a basic guest house. On occasions there may be no running or hot water and you may find showers are just a bucket of warm water and a jug! At times there may be limited electricity too.  If the standard of accommodation is important to you, you may wish to discuss which trips would be suitable for you with our volunteer managers on 01582 720056.

When in transit, we try to put married couples together but it may not be possible for a night or two. Where possible we will also try and accommodate children (18 and under) with parents, where requested.

What should I wear on my trip?

Different countries and cultures have different views about what is and is not acceptable to wear. We ask that all volunteers respect these sensitivities in their choice of clothing. You will be given detailed information about the dress code for your trip in your country handbook, and the topic will be discussed on your orientation day.

In general cool, comfortable, loose fitting clothing is advisable. Remember you may be doing such practical – and messy – tasks as painting and building, and so dress accordingly. Do not buy new clothes; rather we recommend you pack old ones you will not miss. Some people acquire appropriate clothing from their local charity shops. Many volunteers leave much of their clothing behind for the local community.
Your feet must always be fully covered on the work site, while open shoes or sandals are acceptable at other times. In some countries, jumpers may be needed in the evenings. You will be advised about expected temperatures for your trip, use your common sense and pack accordingly.

Can I opt out of prayer times, church visits or other Christian activities during the trip?

Mission Direct is a Christian charity and there are some elements of the trips which incorporate this. However, we are committed to ensuring that are trips are accessible and fully inclusive of anyone and everyone, from differing faiths to those who don’t follow a faith.

As a team, we meet each morning to discuss the day, and as part of this we pray as well as before meals and at other times during the day. We are often asked to attend the community’s church services as guest too. These are an integral part of building relationships, as well as an important part of the trip and although you do not have to be a Christian yourself to join a team, we do ask you to join us as a part of the team, be open minded and tolerant of these practices. We will not embarrass you or ask you to pray out loud, as we are sensitive to the fact that everyone is in a different place on their personal spiritual journey. 

Non-Christians who have come with us are often surprised how inclusive and enjoyable these experiences are, often quite different from what they expected. If you are bringing a complete non-faith team, we can create bespoke options which remove some of the faith-based practices. Please contact us.

Can I make personal visits to friends, family, sponsored children or plan my own visits during the trip?

You are joining a team. We want work together, laugh together, cry together, pray together and stay together. If you are missing from the team, the team is missing you and you are missing the team’s experiences. Therefore we ask you not to make arrangements for personal visits and meetings during the trip. However we are happy to change your personal flight so that you can make use of your time in the country to visit friends, family, sponsored children or personal visits outside the trip dates.

Do I need a visa?

It depends on the country. We sort the cost of visas and departure taxes within the contribution and will advise what is needed for each country.  Mission Direct will apply for your visa if required. For Sierra Leone we will advise you in good time and will need your passport in advance.

How can I raise the money?

In our surveys we found that about 40% cite the concern over raising the money as a reason not to come.  This is a pity as time and time again, when people decide to come on a Mission Direct trip, they discover how remarkably easy it is to raise the necessary money.

Please don’t let the fear of not having enough money stop you from committing to come.  We have developed an outstanding fundraising toolkit, complete with numerous fundraising tips. You can receive a copy by contacting us or registering for a free downloaded copy.

Do I need a reference?

On our application form, we ask for a church leader’s signature because we hope this will help you to engage your church family in getting behind you in this way. On rare occasions, a church leader may have concerns and this process will facilitate any necessary discussion.

If you are not a Christian or in a church, we ask that you provide a simple reference from someone like an employer or friend who knows you well.

How can I encourage my church to support me on this trip?

If you are a churchgoer, you will often find that your church is keen to assist you in raising your trip contribution and keen to support you in prayer.

Like most things, we find that great personal communication and a good relationship with your church leaders and where appropriate, mission committee members will make a difference. We can provide you with the information and material that will help.

Why not ask your leaders to invite us to speak at a Sunday service, or specially arranged meeting for those interested in learning more.

Hopefully there will be an opportunity to share with your church and other community groups, about your Mission Direct outreach experiences. If you require material or speakers to encourage others to join you on a trip, please contact us.

Are there any age-related issues?

The oldest person to join a Mission Direct trip so far has been in his late 80’s and there are many volunteers in their 70’s.

Age is not necessarily a limiting factor, although there are some issues you may want to consider. The pace of the journey is not slow, and tropical, humid heat can be a factor in some countries. Please call the Mission Direct office for specific information on climate or accommodation if you are unsure.

Everybody is encouraged to contribute at their own pace; in consultation with your in-country staff it may be appropriate to opt out of a particularactivity to rest, and there are always less physically taxing activities available.

The youngest child to have come on a Mission Direct trip is 7 years old. Please do call to discuss the suitability of a destination for younger children, as we love families to come. If you are over 80 please check with us about health insurance.

Are families, single parents, and children encouraged to come?

The oldest person to join a Mission Direct trip so far has been in his late 80’s and there are many volunteers in their 70’s.

Age is not necessarily a limiting factor, although there are some issues you may want to consider. The pace of the journey is not slow, and tropical, humid heat can be a factor in some countries. Please call the Mission Direct office for specific information on climate or accommodation if you are unsure.

Everybody is encouraged to contribute at their own pace; in consultation with your in-country staff it may be appropriate to opt out of a particularactivity to rest, and there are always less physically taxing activities available.

The youngest child to have come on a Mission Direct trip is 7 years old. Please do call to discuss the suitability of a destination for younger children, as we love families to come. If you are over 80 please check with us about health insurance.

How do I apply?

You can choose a trip to apply for here!

Complete the form and press submit – your space on team will not be reserved until you contribute the non-refundable £150 deposit required. You can send this either through the online payment prompt for deposit, or by cheque to: 27 Bury Mead Road, Hitchin, Herts. SG5 1RT. Alternatively you can call us with your card details on 01582 720056.

If you can’t complete an online application for any reason, please contact us for a paper form.

Any advice on smoking and drinking?

We aim to be sensitive to all people, including the Mission Direct team members and the local community. We recognise that we are ‘guests’ in the countries we visit.  They will have a different culture and we need to be respectful of their differing expectations and views. We hope most of our volunteers will be able to refrain from smoking. However, for those that do smoke, we ask for the utmost discretion and to discuss where best to do it with our in-country staff.

Equally we are sensitive about drinking alcohol in some countries. You will find many Christians in Africa, for instance, struggle with a culture that accepts drinking alcohol in moderation. If in doubt it is best to go for soft drinks, especially in the company of Christians from overseas. Our in-country staff will give you more specific advice on these matters depending on where you are visiting.

What medications should I bring?

Mission Direct has a first aid kit on site at all times but it cannot cover all eventualities. Please ensure that you bring extra supplies of any medications you are taking as these will not be available locally. We expect volunteers to bring their own medication for ailments such as stomach upsets, diarrhoea, colds and headaches. Some choose to leave these supplies in country at the end of their trip.

When you buy anti-mosquito spray or roll on, ask the pharmacist about sprays containing Deet which tend to be more effective.

We recommend that you consult your GP before applying if you have any significant health issues. You are also welcome to ring and ask questions on 01582 720056. Your application form asks for medical details and if we have any questions we will contact you – in some circumstances we may ask for fitness to travel certificate from your GP. Our overseas staff will advise you on keeping healthy – both physically and spiritually. Please come if you are healthy, no matter how old you are.

What vaccinations do I need? What medications should I bring?

Vaccination requirements vary from country to country and as each person is different, and may face varying health issues, we will not provide specific advice. We strongly recommend that you seek the advice from your doctor or health clinic as soon as possible. Some doctors offer injections free when they hear what you are doing, others charge.

Yellow fever vaccination is a legal requirement for some countries and your yellow fever certificate may have to be shown to the immigration officials to gain entry. It is also vital that you take anti-malaria advice from your doctor and where appropriate, bring the prophylaxis with you.

Am I covered for Medical Expenses/Travel Insurance?

Absolutely – The cost is included in your contributions. We have insurance settled for those under 80. If you are older please discuss with one of our volunteer managers. To read full details, you can download a full copy of the policy here.

We use or as requirements do change for each country

What does my trip contribution include and exclude?


  • Return flights from the UK
  • In-country transfer and transport
  • Accommodation
  • Travel insurance
  • All main meals and bottled water
  • Standard excursions
  • Reunion day


  • Extra snacks and drinks outside of main meals
  • Donations to a specific project or cause in-country
  • Overseas staff salaries as they self-fund
  • Full project costs – Many of our volunteers fundraise past the trip contribution total as any and all additional funds raised go directly to the project/programme costs. On average, our volunteers raise £600 over the required contribution – it amazes us and is such a blessing!

Our programme costs are difficult to estimate accurately in advance with major fluctuations in sterling, airfares, oil prices and the cost of living in unstable economies. Mission Direct is a charity and does not make or distribute any profits.

Your contribution also excludes Gift Aid. If a gift aid form is signed, the Government will give 25p for every £1 you raise to Mission Direct. This means that every time a UK tax payer makes a gift to us, there is a multiple ready to be collected. Please do all you can to get gift aid forms signed, as the financial impact is huge.

What is a reunion day and why should I attend?

Returning home to ‘normal life’ can be challenging after everything you experience overseas. For this reason we run a Reunion Day after each campaign to help you make the most of your experiences. It is the chance to get together with all your fellow volunteers, along with the other teams that have been working on your project.

There will be joy and tears as people share moving stories of what God has done in their lives and you will hear all the latest news from the partners. We encourage you to consider what is next on your own journey and offer the chance to write a sealed letter to yourself that we post to you 6 months later.

Volunteers are so positive about their Reunion Days and we consider this session to be an integral part of the trip ‘experience’. For this reason we encourage you to make every effort to attend both the orientation and reunion days.

The reunion day will usually be held on a Saturday in Luton and we provide lunch and refreshments.

What is an orientation day and why is it important to attend?

This is a day enabling you to get personal answers to any question and provide appropriate expectations. You will get to know your fellow team members, learn in detail about the trip and how to prepare for it. It is an integral part of the volunteering ‘package’ helping you to prepare both practically and emotionally for the trip you are about to go on. Amongst other things it helps in the following ways:

  • It allows you to meet and bond with your team, preparing you to work together more effectively with our partners and one another.
  • We provide you with a detailed handbook covering all aspects of the trip.
  • It helps volunteers to come with appropriate expectations of the trip and what they will be doing.
  • You will learn more about how to raise further money for your trip, and discover how your fellow volunteers have fundraised.
  • You will learn the practical issues, from what to pack, baggage allowances and airport details.
  • We provide the latest details about the project you will be working on and what we hope you will be able to do.

As we share vital details, we find those few who do not attend really miss out and often find acclimatising at the start of their trip harder. Whilst we accept there are sometimes diary clashes, please, if at all possible, give this your highest priority to attend. The orientation day will be held on a Saturday in Luton and we provide lunch and refreshments throughout the day.

Are there any time commitments beyond the 2 week trip?

You are requested to join us at an orientation day, after the trip we hold a reunion day.

If you feel you want to do more, you could always consider joining us for two or more teams as overseas staff. See our vacancies page for more details.

Why don’t I just give money and not waste it on going?

Volunteers travelling with us to join these communities is at the heart of our vision and mission. Thousands of volunteers have been transformed through their volunteering – and this can be your story too. Local people do not want your money, or charity, they want relationship and support in what they are already doing to defeat their circumstances. Over and over again, they tell us that what means the most to them is the fact that our volunteers give up their time to come and help them – to come into their communities and live among them, when many people in their own country wouldn’t.

At Mission Direct we have faced the issue of mission tourism head on and believe passionately that going is vital. Our model of operating addresses many of such people’s concerns.

This is a really important question and has a number of perspectives:

  • The fact of the matter is that the money would almost definitely not be raised if you were not going in person. Friends are far, far, more likely to give to a project that you are involved in.
  • As well as transforming the local community, this trip is likely to transform your outlook. By seeing the effects of poverty first hand – and seeing it alleviated – your attitude towards poverty and materialism is likely to be transformed along with your long-term giving. This, in turn will impact the wider cause as your passion and testimony will be infectious.
  • Often the biggest contribution you make on a trip is a completely unplanned act of kindness or generosity; there are countless stories of these on our trips; from a woman who bought a wheelchair for a housebound girl, sponsorship of children to go to school, to another who ended up singing in Spanish to a dying woman.
  • Mission Direct trips are all about direct relationship. Time and again locals tell the teams ‘we can’t believe that you came in person to help us.’ We can assure you that you too will be glad that you made the effort.

If you want to discuss this further, please ring us on 01582 720056.

Why should I join a Mission Direct trip?

All-inclusive mission – We arrange everything for you: Return flights, visas, insurance, accommodation and more. Before you go we also brief you thoroughly about your trip on an orientation day.

No specialist skills required – or superhuman strength! We work with local builders and tradesmen, so ask you to just come willing to lend a hand. If you have any specific skill you would like to utilise, please contact us.

You can watch every penny make a difference – Once you’ve raised you trip contribution, which is easier than you would think, all further money you raise goes direct to the project and the people – and you’ll be there to see it being put into action.

See the lasting impact your work has made – Imagine the smiles of a family moving from the slums into a home that you have helped to build, or a child able to attend school without walking miles each day. The gratitude of the people you go out to support will overwhelm you, and we’ll keep you update on the project once yo’re home so you can see it through to completion.

Change your life – As one volunteer put it: “I thought I was going overseas to give to others; in fact, they gave back so much more to me.”

Share your faith with actions as well as words – During projects we regularly show The Jesus Film, pray for the sick and invite people to discover Christ for themselves. We are living out the words of Jesus, serving others in love.

Joining a Mission Direct team will not only allow you to make a direct personal impact upon the lives of the vulnerable, it is likely to alter your whole outlook on life. Below are just a few comments from former volunteers providing insight:

  • “I had a sense that God was calling me to go. I did not have any money but knew He would provide and He did!”
  • “I was bored with holidays on the beach with no purpose; I wanted to do something that helped someone. Mission Direct not only enabled me in this, but the insights I gained will always be with me”.
  • “I’m retired and have time on my hands and I was looking for something to do with my time that mattered.”
  • It’s been so nice to get to closely know such a wide variety of people.
  • “I wanted to take my skills overseas to people who desperately need them” (Teaching, I.T and Medical volunteers)
  • The afternoon visits with the home-based care teams are what stuck. That’s when I realised the meaning of “Mission Direct”.

A cry has gone out to “make poverty history” and there are many ways to help make this a reality. Our focus is on the people behind the statistics. We offer you the chance to make a visible and significant difference to one specific community. And by meeting and serving real people, you have a chance to be transformed yourself.

If I’m not a Christian, what can I expect?

Our trips are open to people of any faith or religion and you will not be asked to subscribe to our beliefs. However, as this is a team experience, we do ask you to join us in all activity – some of which include church services, prayer and worship, though we don’t expect you to contribute. These experiences immerse you in the local community and give you a further insight into their daily life. They can also be very bonding for you with your team.

Can I bring a group or take a whole team?

Yes – see more information on group bookings.

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