Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Preparing for placement

I thought it might be useful to creat a log of the things I needed to do before leaving the UK.

  • Banking - After chatting to the account manager at Lloyds-TSB, I will be setting up an international account into which I can transfer funds to use while abroad. This account could be in US dollars, EUROs or Sterling depending on the country the placement is in. The advantages seem to be ease of access to funds where ever you are on the planet and there are no charges to use cash machines overseas.
  • Renting - I am using an agent to manage renting my bungalow. They charge 10% of the monthly rent but they do accept responsibility for finding tenants and making sure the property is looked after and maintained. The agent works on an average of 10 months rental in 12 months and does charge each time they need to find a new tenant. The fees the agent charges can be set against the taxable rental income. Every little helps!!!!
  • Morgages - I have informed the morgage company that the bungalow will be rented. They were quite happy with this as long as I had a professional agent managing the property in my absence. This made the morgage one that covered "renting" for which they made no charge. This also means that I can set the morgage repayments against tax as well as any repairs the property might need including replacing wornout items such as washing m/c's etc.
  • Attorney - W H Smiths sell a do-it-yourself kit, £17, covering a General Power of Attorney and a Living Will. They also do other similar documents, such as ordinary wills,etc. This will be useful if I have forgotten to do anything that might require my signiture/permission after I have left the UK .
  • Medical - Medical and dental checks are manditory before the placement begins as are injections against common ailments. Not my favorite part of the process I have to say!!!
  • Car - I have decided to sell the car. Using the Power of Attorney, my daughter can do the deal after I have left. Over the 2 years it would depreciate so much anyway, and the cash could be useful!!!


Having been accepted as a volunteer by VSO, I took part in the Preparation For Change weekend at Harborne Hall , Birmingham. And what a great weekend it was. The event was geared to checking whether either you or VSO had made a mistake in thinking you could be a volunteer!!!!! It worked. The workshops, case studies and roll plays pulled no punches and I really felt that my resolve had been tested. I still very much want to go out as a volunteer.

I spent some time in the resource centre following up on my possible placement in Mongolia. Apart from the 'standard' books covering the different countries, it was fascinating to read the volunteer accounts of experiences, as well as the VSO briefing sheets. A gold mine for any traveller!!!!

A unexpected benefit from the weekend was meeting and spending time with so many bright and positive people. It was a joy.