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AfiD - Duncan Jackson

AfID Case Study

Duncan Jackson was recruited by Sellick Partnership to volunteer on an AfID programme at a disability charity in Cambodia, where he used his accounting skills to mentor the local finance staff. Duncan also helped improve the charity’s end of year accounting, and mentored the local accountant’s budgeting skills.


Q: Tell us how you found out about your position with AfID

A: I found out about AfiD through the advert placed on GAAPWeb by Sellick Partnership.

I was looking at taking time out of work to do some travelling overseas and was thinking of mixing this in with volunteer work. I had done some volunteering work before, teaching English in South America, but AfiD seemed like a great way of using my accounting and finance skills to help a charity in a developing country.

It's a great way to use the skills and experience you've developed in your career in the UK to help other people."


Sellick Partnership put me in touch with AfiD who sent me loads of information about their organisation, the types of charities they worked with overseas, the different sort of placements they did - from short term for a few weeks ranging up to 6 months for long-term positions.

AfiD gave me three different placement options to choose from based on the preferences I gave them. They were very helpful in explaining the different options open to me and the pros and cons of each one. For example, did I want to be out in the sticks or in one of the towns with more access to facilities? I attended a day workshop in London with AfID to find out more about what was involved and speak to some previous volunteers to get a feel of what it was like on the ground.

Everyone at AfiD was very helpful and the positive reaction I got at the workshop made me decide to go for it.

I decided to do a placement in Cambodia mixed in with doing some travelling in South East Asia. I thought this was a good way to see the region as well as get to understand more about the local people, rather than just passing through as a tourist.

I would recommend AfID to anyone thinking about doing some volunteer work overseas. It's a great way to use your accountancy/finance skills to help local charities manage their finances."


Q: Where and what did the position involve?


A: I worked for a charity called Epic Arts in Kampot in the south of Cambodia for 3 weeks in Feb 2013. The charity works with deaf and disabled children in the local community, also helping to educate the parents about how to best help their disabled children. I worked with the local accountant, mentoring them on the preparation of the year-end accounts. I also helped out with improving their processes and controls around the finance systems, and with monthly budgeting and reporting to the local board.

The atmosphere in the office was very relaxed, everyone was really friendly and enthusiastic about their work. Quite different from the UK!

Q: How has this experience contributed to your CV?

A: It showed that I would do things outside of the normal day to day of working in finance/accountancy in the UK, demonstrating that I can work with different sorts of people and adapt to a range of situations.

In South East Asia, things don't always work out the way you expect, so it’s important to keep an open mind and not get too stressed!"


Q: Have you found a position since you returned to the UK?


A: Yes, I was doing finance contract work before I went away and have since found another contract since I returned.

Q: Would you recommend AfID services to a friend?

A: Yes, I would recommend AfID to anyone thinking about doing some volunteer work overseas. It's a great way to use your accountancy/finance skills to help local charities manage their finances.

It is key for charities to show to their donors how their funding is being spent, and to make sure they can secure funding in the future.
AfiD provided support before, during and after my placement. Before I went AfiD gave me lots of information on my placement, including details of accommodation options in the area, what there is to do outside of work, etc.

AfiD kept in touch with me whist I was on my placement to make sure I was ok and getting the support I needed. I didn't have any problems during my placement but you felt that the support was there if it was needed.Q: What advice would you give to someone looking to broaden their experience by volunteering overseas?

Q: What advice would you give to someone looking to broaden their experience by volunteering overseas?

A: It's a great way to use the skills and experience you've developed in your career in the UK to help other people.

The finance and accountancy skills are often quite basic so although you may feel you don't have much to contribute, you'll be surprised about how much you have to offer.

AfiD is a good way to start volunteering as they give to lots of support and information about the charity you are working with and the area you're going to. They also help out with the administration - visa, flights vaccinations etc. So it's a great way to dip into volunteering to decide if it's for you.

For more information, please speak to your consultant or visit the AfID website at www.afid.org.uk.
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