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Who We Are

Indigo Volunteers was founded in 2012 to challenge the exploitative practices of for-profit volunteering agencies.

These companies, otherwise coined as ‘voluntourism’ agencies, charge extortionate fees and seem primarily concerned with selling exotic experiences, rather than considering their actual impact on those in need.

 

We want to ensure that volunteering remains true to its core humanitarian purpose: people helping people. That’s why we partner with grassroots, non-profit charities that are positively dedicated to supporting displaced communities.

 

Read our full story below.

Our Story

Founded in 2012 by Holly Penalver, Indigo Volunteers came to be in response to the steep fees, dubious marketing practices, and questionable projects she had encountered whilst volunteering abroad. Holly was keen to find a more ethical way to get involved in volunteering since first coming across these malpractices back in 2009. While working as a paediatric nurse, she identified a small health clinic in Malawi and organised a non-profit volunteering placement for her and her colleagues. The trip confirmed two things: 1. Local grassroots projects had great interest in the assistance of independently placed volunteers. 2. Holly’s colleagues and friends were inspired by her experience and wanted to get out on the ground to make an impact for themselves. Back home, she realised that the core way she could influence the volunteer sector was to start a matchmaking organisation for volunteers and organisations built on responsible principles and ethical engagement. Thus, Indigo Volunteers was born. With the support of Holly’s dedicated friends and family, Indigo Volunteers identified several projects across East Africa and started organising placements for a handful of volunteer applicants. Gradually, more projects in more countries were added to the website and more aspiring volunteers signed up. The 2015 refugee crisis caused a sudden growth spurt and change in focus, yielding an unprecedented demand for immediate independent emergency aid on European soil. As a response, our team moved out to Greece in 2016 to provide on-the-ground volunteer coordination and project support at several crisis hotspots in Greece, Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Indigo has been present on the ground ever since, placing over 3000 volunteers to well-over 80 partner projects along the refugee route. Today, our team of volunteers and staff continue supporting over 50 grassroots organisations across Greece, France, Serbia, Poland, Moldova, Slovakia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Lebanon and Cyprus.

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Our Team

The world is our office. Our small charity is run by a passionate group of volunteers from several different countries and a handful of full-time staff.

We coordinate our day-to-day operations from behind our laptops, enabling us to work alongside our partners in the field and onboard an ever-growing number of projects and volunteers.

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Marina Kokkinou
Interim CEO

After two years of managing and coordinating Indigo’s volunteering, wellbeing and organisational development programmes, I am now leading our incredible team into its next chapter. A priority for me is to make sure that our wonderful team, partners and volunteers are well taken care of. It's been a joy to work in such an impactful organisation and within a committed team. After a long day, a walk in the city or playing the piano will always recharge me.

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Holly Penalver
Founder and Advisor

My initial volunteering experiences - after completing my degrees in Psychology and Nursing - showed me the importance of responsible volunteering. I founded Indigo in 2012 to make volunteering abroad more accessible, ensuring that each project we support benefits the people it's intended to help. I'm now attempting the classic juggling of advising a charity whilst being mother to a 1-year old!

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Seb Dempf
Project Manager

I manage Indigo's digital workspace, work with our board on compliance questions and generally support our team to make sure we work as effectively as we can. I first stumbled upon Indigo when working as a Volunteer Coordinator in Serbia. Fast forward two years and I decided to join this wonderful bunch of people myself!

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Flo Krauer
Marketing Manager

I take care of the social media strategy and its implementation. I also participate in the general marketing strategy and try to find synergies between the different channels. One of my great passions is discovery, whether it's new food, interesting cultures or new ideas. I am an enhusiast by nature and am extremely excited to work with this wonderful team.

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Serena Toscani
Volunteer Coordinator

After experiencing Indigo's excellent work both as a volunteer and a coordinator in Greece, becoming part of this team was an incredible opportunity for me. I feel passionate about volunteering and enabling connections between people willing to donate their time and skills and organisations that work in the humanitarian field. As a volunteer coordinator, I take care of each volunteer journey ensuring that anyone is given the best support and care. I'm also a new mom and a passionate baker!

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Liv Quick
Tech & Systems Coordinator

My role within Indigo includes managing the digital workspace, exploring new ways for our systems to run smoothly and supporting the fantastic team to keep doing what they do best! I have over five years experience working in the charity sector and many more years volunteering!

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Chloe Harris
Research & Marketing

Throughout my MSc, I focused my research on the intersection between refugees and the media, and how to forefront the migration stories that truly matter. I am extremely excited to be working with the incredibly welcoming and dedicated Indigo team, and to be gaining corporate and marketing experience as I support Indigo's fantastic work. In my spare time, you can find me either walking in the woods, baking or attempting to climb a bouldering wall!

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Sophie Pearce
Fundraising Support

After focusing my university studies on supporting refugees and asylum seekers, followed by volunteering for different charities around the world, I am excited to be working in the Indigo team. Indigo is an organisation I see as making a vital impact across Europe for refugees, and is a community I am honoured to be a part of, as refugee numbers unfortunately continue to rise globally. I love to fuel my mental health with outdoor activities, so am looking forward to taking part in any upcoming fundraising sport events!

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Molly Hanson
Fundraising Support

With my background in global health, I have an interest in how our social and physical environment plays such a key role in our wellbeing. Being part of Indigo as a research and fundraising volunteer is really exciting as I get to support the organisation development and see the awesome benefits for partners, volunteers and refugees. I am usually full of energy so in my free time you can find me outdoors and I love all adventure activities.

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Cem Auchinleck-Onal 
Fundraising Support

I am really excited to be the new Research and Fundraising volunteer at Indigo. I have long held a strong desire to volunteer, especially overseas but have always found the extraordinary costs involved to be a barrier, and I know that I am not the only one. Indigo's commitment to providing an ethical alternative to for-profit volunteering is a breath of fresh air and makes me feel proud to play my part in such an organisation. Outside of work I usually spend my time listening to music and discovering new artists and styles. I enjoy travelling and discovering cool hang out spots and good food.

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Manon Vérité
Fundraising Support

Graduate from an International Cooperation master's program, I am glad to work back with an international human rights oriented charity after a few experiences focusing on the environment protection. Strong of this diversity I am looking forward to help Indigo maintain their great work supporting volunteers and charities around Europe.

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Nancy Susan Emina
Content Creator

Having been involved in volunteering most of my adult life, I wanted to find a way to continue my passion for helping others after relocating to Europe from the US. I was thrilled to learn about Indigo Volunteers and all they do to ensure responsible volunteering opportunities for the communities in need and their volunteers. I am delighted to use my experience in interpersonal communication and advocacy in the role of Community Engagement. I aim to keep the bridge between our communities open, transparent, and connected. I am a lifelong learner and could spend all day in a museum or reading. I also enjoy taking long walks, singing, creating art, and traveling with my family.

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Clara Chisi
Content Creator

Having volunteered in several organizations during my undergraduate studies where I majored in Media for development, I aspired to work with an organization committed to making a global difference. After discovering Indigo and its enthusiasm for Responsible volunteering, I knew this was the perfect fit for me. As a Content Creator and Community Engagement volunteer, I love that I will be able to use my Media and Digital Communication skills to assist displaced communities worldwide. I believe that I will learn a great deal from this diverse team and contribute to making a positive impact. In my spare time I double as a Bookworm, I love crocheting and baking as well as struggling through long walks.

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Alyria Salazar
Strategic Advisor

Having been involved in volunteering most of my adult life, I wanted to find a way to continue my passion for helping others after relocating to Europe from the US. I was thrilled to learn about Indigo Volunteers and all they do to ensure responsible volunteering opportunities for the communities in need and their volunteers. I am delighted to use my experience in interpersonal communication and advocacy in the role of Community Engagement. I aim to keep the bridge between our communities open, transparent, and connected. I am a lifelong learner and could spend all day in a museum or reading. I also enjoy taking long walks, singing, creating art, and traveling with my family.

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Sophie Elliott
Corporate Marketing

I began my university studies in Politics and Philosophy in 2019. This quickly became a turbulent time in global affairs, meaning that I benefitted from learning about political issues, their triggers, processes and consequences as they panned out. This led me to develop a particular interest in international relations, public policy, and social justice. I hope to bring the skills I obtained from my degree to my role within the corporate team and have a positive impact on Indigo’s valuable mission. I came across Indigo when looking for opportunities to develop my existing skills and I was immediately drawn in by their approach and commitment to ethical volunteering. I am so excited to be working with such a friendly and passionate team and also to gain experience of corporate operations within the non-profit sector. In my spare time I enjoy running, cooking and spending time with Lola, my springer spaniel puppy.

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Hannah Manning
Corporate Marketing

After volunteering myself in Northern Greece (placed by Indigo Volunteers), I’ve held an unwavering passion for the humanitarian sector ever since. With an extensive background in the corporate world, I reached out to the team to see if they could make use of my skillset remotely (as I’m currently in the midst of motherhood with a 3 & 1 year old). I’m honoured to be assisting with the guys in building & implementing their Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy.

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Tom Dean
Strategic Advisor

Coming from a background in business and recruitment, my aim is to draw upon previous experience to assist Holly and the team with marketing and strategic planning, and act as a general sounding board as / when needed. Indigo’s incredible team, my history volunteering in the refugee sector and an ongoing desire to help improve the situation makes indigo the perfect fit.

At Indigo Volunteers we see our differences as our strength.

We are committed to cultivating an equal and fair working environment free from discrimination on the grounds of gender, marital status, race, ethnic origin, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, mental health, religion or age. We are a non-governmental charity organisation and do not align ourselves to any political party or subscribe to any particular religious belief system.

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