Friday 29 May 2009

HOME - A film to be released 5th June

HOME is a feature film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand shot from above in more that 50 countries.

HOME addresses our impact on the planet and sets out our current situation but keeps the faith that a solution exists. More than a movie, HOME will be a major event all over the globe. On June 5th, World Environment Day, HOME will be released in over 50 countries and on every format : movie theatre, TV, DVD and Internet.

The above preview helps to set the scene, come back here on the 5th to see the entire movie.

For more information about the HOME, click here

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Thursday 28 May 2009

Eton shut for a week, time to plan your gap year!

Eton College is the latest place in the UK to suffer from swine flu. After confirming one student tested positive for the virus, they have decided to close the school for a week as a precautionary measure.

As this is one of the finest schools in the country, we are sure that the boys won't be taking this week off to party all night and lie in til late, rather it is the perfect time to revise for exams, or maybe plan for your GAP YEAR!

To help you with this, here are a few tips to get started. Quest Overseas is of course one option for your gap year, but to find out about some of the other established organisations out there, take a look at the Year Out Group website, where you will find links to all different kinds of structured placements.

If you are thinking of volunteering, the Ethical Volunteering website gives you an excellent set of questions to ask any volunteer placement organisation, to make sure the work you will be doing is truly worthwhile.

All being well though, the school should be open in time for the Eton College Gap Fair, on Saturday 20th June, from 10.30am to 12pm. We will be there, as will a number of other organisations. Make sure you stop by to learn about the wealth of options available to you!

Any other questions, feel free to contact us.
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Wednesday 27 May 2009

Brazil Project Close to Fundraising Target

Although the team's time at the Rio project in Brazil over for the year, their work is far from done. They have set up a fundraising page to help support some fundamental needs which came to their attention while at the project. They are so close to their £4,000 target, if you feel you can help them please dig deep.

Our project is based at Casa Lar in the Mangueira favela, a home for mentally handicapped children and young people. The campaign is to raise much needed funds to pay for new wheelchairs, medicine and sheets for their home. Every penny raised is going directly to support the project in Brazil.

To donate to the Brazil project, click on their Justgiving page here

To learn more about our project in Brazil, click here

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Money saving tips for gap year students brought to you from today's Telegraph

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service says that about 33,000 students are currently on gap years before they take up their university places in the autumn, and a similar number are expected to defer their entry this year.
Many students are now using this time off to earn money to put towards higher education costs.
With a typical three-year degree costing in the region of £42,000, according to the Children's Mutual, and many parents less able to help out with costs due to the recession, this is likely to prove a sensible option.
Younger people often earn poor rates of pay, but the good news is that this month the Government announced that the minimum wage rate for 18 to 21 year-olds will increase marginally from October, from £4.77 an hour to £4.83 an hour.
Employers will also be banned from using tips and service charges to "top up" staff pay to meet the minimum wage from October, which should help those working as waiters or bar staff.
However, if someone leaves you a tip by adding it on to their debit or credit card bill, this money can still be used to pay restaurants' other expenses and so may not be passed on.
It is worth making sure that if you are using your gap year to work, you don't end up overpaying tax.
If you work and pay tax during the year, but earn less than your personal allowance, which is £6,475 for the 2009-2010 tax year, you could be eligible for a tax refund.
You can complete a P50 to claim a tax repayment if this is the case. You will need to send it to your tax office with your P45, which you should have been given by your employer when you left your job.
The time limit for making a repayment claim is five years and 10 months from the end of the tax year. So, for example, you must make a claim for repayment of tax paid in the tax year that ended in April 2004 by January 31 2010.
For more information, HM Revenue and Customs has a website designed to make dealing with tax easier for students at The site also has a calculator to help students work out if they have overpaid tax or not.
Students who want to spend part of their gap year travelling will also have to do plenty of financial planning.
Comprehensive travel insurance is vital so that you will be protected if anything goes wrong, and gap year travellers need special cover which lasts the length of the trip. If you are planning to go away for several months, then you will need an extended travel policy rather than an annual policy.
While annual policies provide cover for a year, each trip is usually limited to a set number of days.
Comparison websites such as and can enable you to compare the cost of extended policies, but make sure you compare cover limits carefully, because cheapest is not necessarily best.
If you are planning adventurous activities while you are away, such as scuba-diving or white-water rafting, check the small print on your policy to see if you are covered. As well as insurance, anyone travelling for a long period of time needs to work out the most cost effective way to withdraw cash while they are abroad.
Most students wouldn't be eligible for a credit card, and should avoid them anyway to prevent running up debts before university, but for those wanting a debit card that doesn't charge over the odds for use abroad, Nationwide's Flex Account Visa Debit card is the best one to use.
However, remember that from June 1 a 0.84pc fee will apply to worldwide debit card transactions, excluding Europe, rising to 1pc from July, so you won't be able to completely escape foreign usage charges.
Another option is to take a prepaid card. The idea is that you load it up with money before you go and then use it to pay for things and withdraw cash whilst abroad.
FairFX is one of the best-value prepaid cards and you can load it with either US dollars or euros. There is an initial application fee of £9.95, but after that the only charge is either €1.50 or $2 each time you withdraw cash.
You can top up the card by bank transfer and you can only spend what is on it, so it can be useful for budgeting. The card can be used at any retailer with an electronic terminal that accepts MasterCard.
Whatever post-exam plans A-level students might have this summer, and as boring as it may seem, a bit of careful financial planning is always wise, especially as every penny will count when it's time to start higher education.

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Tuesday 26 May 2009

Thank you Zoe, Villa Maria will miss you!

Zoe McGivern, pictured above sharing her fantastic cooking skills during the first cake making lesson at our Villa Maria school in Lima, Peru, has been supporting the teaching programme out there since September last year. Her main work has been teaching English to the school kids, aged 3 to 7, but that has been far from the full story of the help she has given. Building houses for single mothers, working in the community nurseries, helping in after school homework, sport and dance classes, helping to raise over £5,000 to pay for a young girl's life saving operation, and keeping the school dog Nena fit with her daily runs around the nearby track are just a few of the achievements she can boast.

She has unfortunately had to cut her time there short by a couple of months, due to a family illness back in the UK, but thanks to the tireless effort you have put into your time there Zoe, you have a home and a family waiting for you in Peru whenever you have the chance to go back - thank you!

This does mean however, that we are in need of an English teacher at our project in Peru. Whereas we normally put together teams of volunteers for our projects, this is a bit of a one off for us, so we are keen to find the right person. If you think you can help, have a look at the details of our Villa Maria Project and contact us with any further questions.

Here is a video the kids put together for Zoe to say goodbye - very sweet!

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Holiday hustle

Check out the new series of 'the real hustle' on BBC3 and find out how to avoid the con abroad. Episode 1 includes 'the teddy bear', 'fake taxi driver' and learning how to rip a phone book in half!
Catch the programme on Mondays at 8.30pm or on BBCiplayer.
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