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Sally Too

Helpx / Wooff hosts. How do you choose?

I've notice a few others on here Helpx hosts etc. and I was wondering... We have been on the go for a year now and it has been a great experience for all of us.

I tend to go for folk who say plenty about themselves, and who I think have thought carefully about what their visit here would mean to them.

I have had queries from folk with empty profiles or who say little concrete about themselves (things like: I'm willing to learn & I'm enthusiastic, mean little by themselves so I tend to want to read these statements alongside their other life experiences.)

I often email back to those folk with an empty profile and suggest what they could add. Only one couple made the changes and emailed me back to say thank you. Sadly I was unable to host them, but they let me know that they had found a great stay as a result of my suggestions. (These are the sort of folk I would want to host! Wink )

What are your experiences? .....

So far I have hand only good experiences with the visitors we have had.
T.G

we offered to host on helpx, i soon realised the mention of horses had a host of young girls wantign to come out and ride, so we decided to reword it to remve the obvious major attraction. since then we've had some very good experiences.

whats wooff?
Sally Too

Wooff is the organic farm thing... can't remember what exactly it stands for, but we are not an organic farm! Also I think the Helpx site is easier to use....

I agree about the horses thing. I've had some very wishy washy lovey type responses and to be honest I don't want any highly idealistic folk here telling me how I should look after my horses.... Rolling Eyes

So, like you, I don't emphasis that angle too much and anyone that talks only about horses and not about the help they can offer in the house/garden doesn't get much response. I really don't need to know how much folk have "loved horses all their lives" etc. etc.

In reality we do try to get helpers that show some interest up onto a horse during their stay ( and a couple have even come out and ridden in forest parks etc with us) but it is a "special" rather than a given. As yet we have had no-one that we would allow to exercise unsupervised.
T.G

aha - you've had the same responses as we have Laughing

just for safety really not being mean, I wouldn't want someone riding my horses, to me they are all donkeys (cus i know them inside out Very Happy) but to an inexperienced rider who thinks they are experienced some would be a little challenging, not in a negative way because I wouldn't allow it, but in a 'I know you can't ride so i'm going to demostrate just how exactly you can't ride' way Rolling Eyes

and then we have the cob who would just stand and eat all day long regardless of having someone sat on her back and a whole marching band wandering past her .. whats the saying never work with animals and children??? Laughing
Green Rosie

I tend to get a gut feeling about people who contact us. One we did get very wrong but others have been either excellent or at least not a pain in the backside. I tend to be less keen on following up helpers who have emailed loads of people and prefer people to indicate a real interest in coming to us, rather than a general email to everyone they have contacted.

We also have a "contract" we give helpers when they arrive which explains about us, the work we want people to do and the fact that if things are not working out we can ask people to leave. (Thanks for that BulgarianLily)
SK

Been reading the forum for yonks - but living on the other side of the world haven't contributed before.

I'd love to know your attitude to 'mature' WWOOFers and HelpX helpers - briefly I'm in my mid 50's - and my husband (of over 30 years) has recently chosen to trade me in for a younger model. Sad Instead of getting bitter and twisted about it - I've decided to see it as a positive opportunity to do some things I never had a chance to when I was younger - and conversations on a recent YHA trip up the coast reminded me of both these organisations

I'm still pretty fit (can lift 20kg chook food bags!) and have plenty of experience of vegie growing, chook keeping, general work around the property (we have lived on 25 acres the last 11 years) , household type chores, cooking, baking, preserving etc etc and did some horse keeping while dear daughter was busy with exams and then went travelling. I've also owned long haired slobbery dogs since the mid 70's who have always been welcome inside and have plenty of computer, admin and hospitality type skills from my working life. I consider myself honest, reliable, friendly and happy to try most things

I was born, grew up and married in England and still retain my UK Passport and I'm seriously considering trying this type of exchange next northern spring/summer (if not before) in Britain (if I can reprogram my body to handle the climate again after nearly 30 years out here) or France

Sorry - I'm waffling - do those of you who host generally prefer exotic young things - and think I'm wasting my time - or do you think there would be people prepared to take me on

Look forward to hearing from you

Sue
woodsprite

When we were hosts we tended toward young, strong types because that was the sort of work that we wanted covered but our son had a year helpxing around Europe and worked with others of all ages. He's still in touch with an older gent whom he worked with on a goat farm in Italy.
We never had a bad experience hosting, a good long 'chatty email or two always seemed to work and both sides knowing exactly what was expected. Mind you this was way back when help x was very new, I was never willing to jump through all the hoops the woof insisted on and hated the idea of volunteers having to pay to join
edited to add
Sue your post is exactly the sort of thing that would have made me chose you. All the very best I'm certain you'll make a great volunteer, I'd have you here like a shot if I was still hosting.
Green Rosie

So Sorry Sue to hear about your OH and well done for putting all that behind you and getting on with life Very Happy

Our HelpXers have mostly been younger because that is who has contacted us but as OH is in his early 50's we do not have a problem with mature helpers - a long as they can keep up with him (and our chook feed sacks are 25kgs Wink )

I also agree about chatty emails to get a feel for some-one (which we didn't really do with the one person we had a problem with). However leave phone/SKYPE contact until you feel you really do want them to come as I find it is harder to say no to them once you have that direct contact. A HelpXer cold called me yesterday and I have to say I was very cautious. I like to read profiles and reviews initially. One Helper contacted me via email, sounded really nice then I read her reviews - 3 bad ones.

I don't know anything about WWOOF but HelpeX have recently improved their website and you can report concerns about problem helpers and hosts.

Hope that helps.
T.G

Hi there Sue,

I prefer older than younger, I've had both, but the older folk seem to be more agreeable to the idea that they are here to swap a bit of work for accommodation and snap. I value age as it generally means a level of normal understanding and not daft scatty ideas, roll in drunk and Id guess less likely to fall for a summer fling with one of the village lads Rolling Eyes - mind you, you maybe after a toyboy who knows Laughing plus with age comes a wealth of experience you just cant have when youre young.

Age wouldn't be anything that put me off an individual, unless they were under 25... Then Id be more inclined to move on to the next helpx respondent.
Went

SK wrote:
Been reading the forum for yonks - but living on the other side of the world haven't contributed before.

I'd love to know your attitude to 'mature' WWOOFers and HelpX helpers - briefly I'm in my mid 50's - and my husband (of over 30 years) has recently chosen to trade me in for a younger model. Sad Instead of getting bitter and twisted about it - I've decided to see it as a positive opportunity to do some things I never had a chance to when I was younger - and conversations on a recent YHA trip up the coast reminded me of both these organisations

I'm still pretty fit (can lift 20kg chook food bags!) and have plenty of experience of vegie growing, chook keeping, general work around the property (we have lived on 25 acres the last 11 years) , household type chores, cooking, baking, preserving etc etc and did some horse keeping while dear daughter was busy with exams and then went travelling. I've also owned long haired slobbery dogs since the mid 70's who have always been welcome inside and have plenty of computer, admin and hospitality type skills from my working life. I consider myself honest, reliable, friendly and happy to try most things

I was born, grew up and married in England and still retain my UK Passport and I'm seriously considering trying this type of exchange next northern spring/summer (if not before) in Britain (if I can reprogram my body to handle the climate again after nearly 30 years out here) or France

Sorry - I'm waffling - do those of you who host generally prefer exotic young things - and think I'm wasting my time - or do you think there would be people prepared to take me on

Look forward to hearing from you

Sue


Hi Sue - El Paraiso del Burro here in Asturias takes volunteers from all age groups and all walks of life - there is always plenty of work to do - physical and admin type work - IT skills are welcomed and attitude is far more important than physical ability, cooking and housekeeping is also helpful especially when there are many volunteers. Dog walking is a daily chore as there are 6 dogs, vegetable gardens to maintain and donkeys to groom - you name it there is always a range of work that is available. Marleen who owns and runs the Donkey Sanctuary has a personal philosophy of letting volunteers decide how they can contribute and make choices on what they wan t to do whilst they are visiting. Not everyone's approach but it works for her.

The link to the English blog is below - welcome to the site by the way.
Sally Too

Our helpers have all been between 19 &32. I suppose just because that is the age folk travel at. I currently have a query from an 18 year old girl, but I'm going the route of not promising anything until we talk a bit more....... she actually sounds nice and might fit in well, but 18 is very young I think.

I did have one older lady contact me (late 50s I think) She had a very bland review left for her. I made contact with that host and was advised that she was unlikely to suit. I don't think that was an age thing though!

Sue,
I think you have taken the right tack with your intro. You have explained a bit about yourself and most importantly you have given the reason that you want now to Helpx. (I'm 24 years married - I don't want to even imagine what your experience might feel like! Sad However I do admire your spirit. Cool )

Have you joined helpx yet? If or when you do, give me a PM and I'll give you a link to our listing. I'm in N.Ireland.
Bulgarianlily

We have had helpers from 18 to 63. All except one, who told a lot of lies on contacting us, have been great (returned firmly to bus station on third day). So far this year I think we have had 18 volunteers, from wwoof, helpx and workaway. I prefer the helpx site for ease of use and the amount of information you get. We have had 6 french, 2 israeli, 1 dutch, 2 americans, 1 south korean, 1 uruguean, 1 irish, 2 english, 1 bulgarian and 1 Russian.

We send our information sheet out when they first make contact, many people say that swings their desire to visit. We are more than happy to have older people here. Unless it is a very brief visit, we take time over the first three days while they work along side us, to get to know people before suggesting a project or some aspect of life here that they can take hold off, to make a good match between skills. That doesn't mean we expect people to have skills, sometimes we find that there is something they need to learn, like power tools and we set up work that we need that will emphasise this and give them lots of practice. Sometimes people are happy to work in teams and sometimes they are better being given a clear idea of what we want and then being left to get on with it, it all depends! Our visitors stay between five days (too short!) and three months. We are proposing to take one long term volunteer for 9 months to a year so they can manage a complete growing season here, maybe someone that doesn't have this experience before but wants to make it their life work...?

Lily
Sally Too

Sally wrote:
I currently have a query from an 18 year old girl, but I'm going the route of not promising anything until we talk a bit more....... she actually sounds nice and might fit in well, but 18 is very young I think.


I asked this potential helper a few challenging questions this morning, to check whether she'd thought all this through, and got a lovely chatty and mature reply. I think she's a go-er. Very Happy
Chez

As a host, what do people provide? Accommodation and food - but do you pay the helpers?
woodsprite

I never did, we just treated them to days out.
Sally Too

woodsprite wrote:
I never did, we just treated them to days out.


Ditto.

I treat them like they are some distant relative's kids who want to travel. They join in all we do and are a part of our family for the time they are here. We lay on some special days out too - which actually my family love - and have found that helpers are appreciative. I like the fact that no money changes hands.

We did once slip a young long term helper 20 as she was going into Belfast with a short stay older couple who we thought might do the bus tour etc. and we wanted our young helper to be able to afford to do that too.

I guess if hosts were doing this just for the work that helpers provide, then it doesn't really always balance...... but we enjoy the company and the buzz of having visitors and that is what makes the whole effort worthwhile. And now I look round my garden and remember helpers by the various things they achieved for us! Very satisfying.
Chez

It's something I am vaguely interested in pursuing for Ma's place. But she will loathe the idea because it involves talking to people Smile.
Sally Too

Chez, I'm not sure how well that would work.......
Chez

Quite Laughing
Jamanda

I am being a wooffer's day out on Tuesday - a friend from work has them and has asked that I show her and them how to make soap Laughing I'd better make a cake (or will toast and my own honey do?)
Chez

Toast and your own honey. It's delightfully British. And get Sean to dress entirely in tweed.
Sally Too

Laughing Tea toast and honey on the lawn with a man in tweed..... Cool Laughing

What fun. And just totally normal of course too... Wink
sean

Chez wrote:
And get Sean to dress entirely in tweed.


Is casual clothing OK for this sort of event then?
Jamanda

It being Yo, she'll probably be in a flowery dress and Hunter wellies Laughing
Sally Too

Very jolly. Can I come too?
T.G

Jamanda wrote:
It being Yo, she'll probably be in a flowery dress and Hunter wellies Laughing
sean? never had him pegged for a floral print man more a twinset and pearls
Bulgarianlily

We make sure they get to see the local attractions, go out of our way to find events or village happenings that they can be involved in, and have recently bought two bikes for them to get off into the forests paths on. We plan some sports equipment like a table tennis table or such at some point.
Green Rosie

We don't pay them but likewise take them out and about to local attractions and usually pay for a meal for them on their last day. One did ask of they could do some extra work for pay but they turned out to be the Helper from Hell who didn't even manage to do the work they were supposed to let alone any extra Rolling Eyes .
Sally Too

Green Rosie wrote:
We don't pay them but likewise take them out and about to local attractions and usually pay for a meal for them on their last day. One did ask of they could do some extra work for pay but they turned out to be the Helper from Hell who didn't even manage to do the work they were supposed to let alone any extra Rolling Eyes .


I always think the "extra for pay" throws up a load of dilemmas. Really because as a host you then would have to define exactly where their help for their stay ends and the pay for the extra starts.

I like to think that if folk appreciate what we are doing for them then they will do a little "extra". We certainly give "extra" to just board and lodging. So if we were paying helpers more then we'd have to put a value on the extras we give them too.

Considering most get: to ride horses, a bike for their own use, use of trampoline, trips out and lifts when they ask, and generous servings of wine etc. in the evenings. I think it could only become an awkward arrangement.
woodsprite

I agree. We provided a bike, use of all of our sports equipment and in the helpxers room there was a small fridge stocked with beers ( not masses) and milk etc, a kettle and tea/coffee making stuff, chocolate/crisps and a portable TV.
Some prefer to be slightly independant from the family, some were with us 24/7. One New Yorker who was with us for 3 months bought his own games machine to hook up to the TV. I'd say that you have to be prepared to have them with you 24/7, if you cant face that, dont do it. Having said that we only had one who was truely like that and she was ridiculously homesick, poor kid.
T.G

we board ours in the SC we tell them this is where they will be staying and we've not had any issues or them changing their minds. It sleeps 8 and at most there are 2 helpx folk at a time. It has a large seperate livingroom with tv/dvd double bedroom, twin bedroom and a seperate shower so its rather nice.

It has a fully fitted kitchen which we stock with a weeks worth of shopping, and then they have meals with us if they so choose. The horses can be ridden, if they seem capable, we also take them into town if they request it and fetch them back - buses and taxis are far too expensive - they appreciate the efforts we go too.

If they are here for a 7 day stay we only ask work for 5 so they have two days to do as they please. That way they can explore the local area, have a choice of going near or far. It works for us, and I think that's the most important bit, you have to set up the exchange so it works for you, then the people who choose to come already fit into your plans, and you don't have any issues, we certainly haven't as yet.
Green Rosie

Sally wrote:
Green Rosie wrote:
We don't pay them but likewise take them out and about to local attractions and usually pay for a meal for them on their last day. One did ask of they could do some extra work for pay but they turned out to be the Helper from Hell who didn't even manage to do the work they were supposed to let alone any extra Rolling Eyes .


I always think the "extra for pay" throws up a load of dilemmas. Really because as a host you then would have to define exactly where their help for their stay ends and the pay for the extra starts.

I like to think that if folk appreciate what we are doing for them then they will do a little "extra". We certainly give "extra" to just board and lodging. So if we were paying helpers more then we'd have to put a value on the extras we give them too.

Considering most get: to ride horses, a bike for their own use, use of trampoline, trips out and lifts when they ask, and generous servings of wine etc. in the evenings. I think it could only become an awkward arrangement.



Exactly - we just leant that the hard way with a particularly difficult helper. All the others have helped far more than we ever ask.
Cobnut

Although Im not ready to volunteer just yet [domestic situation] I recently put a profile up on Help Exchange to get a feel for how welcome Id be and in preparation for emailing hosts. (All being well) Id be travelling the UK with my dog in a caravan, so I need to find hosts who would allow me to park and could also work something out with the pooch. Ive tried to make the profile informative and say what experience I have and what Id like to get out of it, and so far Ive been contacted by 4 hosts in as many weeks which is great! Provided Im taught some skills as well as just getting on with jobs I know Id be happy.
Jamanda

Just had three very pleasant, enthusiastic young people round. They made vanilla soap, ate lots of bread and honey and helped Sean setting off a batch of mead.

They took lots of photos and then charged around the commons with the dog who thought they were wonderful Laughing
SK

Apologies for being so late in coming back here - a bit of "stuff" going on - then we lost phone lines for a couple of days so no internet - aah - the joys of country living!!

I wanted to say thank you so much for the really kind words about my situation - and also for such encouraging responses.

I want to try some short term wwoof/helpx experiences here in Australia fairly soon - then once the loose ends are sorted, head out into the big wide world - and I have to say I am really excited about it.

Glad your day visitors went well Jamanda - and again many thanks to everyone

Best Wishes
Sue

PS - wonder if it would be a good idea to ask about toyboy availability locally in my initial contacts?? - shucks probably not - but I can always dream!!!! Wink
Went

At the Donkey Sanctuary we also encourage volunteers to contribute to the blogs (Spanish and English) about their experiences. I think this helps as some volunteers we have seen have had poor experiences in other placements.

It is a two-way choice I believe. Having volunteers talk about their experience helps others to make the right choice for them. It also gives them an indication of what day to day life is like.
Chez

SK wrote:
PS - wonder if it would be a good idea to ask about toyboy availability locally in my initial contacts?? - shucks probably not - but I can always dream!!!! Wink


Perhaps you could make enquiries about that once you had found a placement you liked? Laughing
London10

Re: Helpx / Wooff hosts. How do you choose?

[quote="Sally too:972576"]I've notice a few others on here Helpx hosts etc. and I was wondering... We have been on the go for a year now and it has been a great experience for all of us.
Hi sally there is also workaway the same , you can talk to the people before you go helpx is good as is wwoff I think have a back up incase it goes wrong but usually ok .
Sally Too

Hi Zamira, This is a rather old thread now. Sadly we've taken our listing on Helpx down now, due to my reduced health at the mo. We do still keep in touch with past helpers and a couple call in when they are passing .....
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