What’s new at WWOOF UK?

May 1, 2024

As you’ll probably be aware WWOOF UK has just been through an exceptionally difficult time with regards to new National Minimum Wage legislation introduced on 1st April (apparently it was no April Fools’ Day prank). We can assure you that we’ve taken all of the actions we deemed relevant and necessary in response to this unexpected challenge to our operations and are happy to be up and running again after temporarily putting new memberships on hold until we had a better idea about the implications for WWOOF.

Many of you attended the Zoom meeting we held on the evening of 4th April and we are grateful to everyone who took time out from their no doubt busy lives to share their thoughts, feelings and energy with us. Some of you volunteered to help as part of a working group and we’d like to thank you for your incredible commitment. If you weren’t at that Zoom meeting and would like to join a working group with the aims of helping hosts become a Community Interest Company [CIC] then drop us an email to: info@wwoof.org.uk and we’ll put you in touch with the rest of the group.

We’ve given serious consideration to your comments, spoken to ‘legal eagles’ regarding UK law and had meetings with global colleagues to learn more about the way other countries operate. Happily, between these things, we’ve now found a pathway to take us forward. We are now saying that WWOOFing visits can continue for all hosts, not just those which are charities or CICs. We will be in touch in the near future with more details, and guidance as to what will be required to be a WWOOF UK host moving forward.

In the meantime we continue with our mission to make the world a better place through helping people connect, share and learn from each other. We believe this objective is of the utmost importance to a planet undergoing severe challenges and therefore we are accepting new memberships again (after the brief and regrettable pause) facilitating WWOOFing in the UK to the best of our ability.

Thank you so much for your continued support.

The WWOOF website is at the centre of how WWOOF members connect. Built and managed by the Federation of WWOOF Organisations (FoWO), the website is an online platform shared by WWOOF groups around the world. The Common WWOOF Platform, as we call it, unifies the WWOOF movement by bringing together all of the WWOOF communities in one place.

What is the new feature?

The WWOOFer community list will allow hosts to actively search for and contact WWOOFers who might be a good fit for their farm. Before this feature, hosts could only receive Visit Requests from WWOOFers who found their profile on the host directory.

This will be useful to hosts who are located in less popular regions of the UK, hosts looking to set up a specific type of learning exchange, and hosts who want to find WWOOFers who are a best suited for their farm.

How to use this new feature

From the WWOOFer tab in the main menu, hosts will be able to view WWOOFer profiles in a directory and filter their profiles by variables such as language, diet, availability, and the farming practices that they’re interested in. When a host finds a WWOOFer who they are interested in connecting with, they can click on their profile, view their description and reviews, and then send a message to them.

The WWOOFer can then view the host’s message and profile and, if they are interested, can turn the message into a Visit Request.

N.B. Not all WWOOFers will be listed in the directory. Only those WWOOFers who opt-in will be listed.

The history of the WWOOFer community list

This feature will be new to some, but familiar to many. A similar feature was present on the old WWOOF UK website.

In November 2022, when WWOOF UK moved to the new website without this feature, many hosts were surprised to find that they could no longer search for WWOOFers. We did our best to explain, but the reasons that this feature did not appear at launch were complicated.

The short answer is that we, along with the many other WWOOF groups investing in this feature, wanted to ensure that it would not be used as a tool to seek “workers” with certain qualifications, instead of WWOOFers looking for educational opportunities. We understand that our hosts appreciate the help that their WWOOFers provide, but in the end WWOOF is an educational organisation, not a labour organisation, and the tools we provide must support that.

That said, we knew that a WWOOFer community list feature would also have many benefits. We see this feature as integral to WWOOF’s long-term vision. We want a platform that builds a greater sense of community, that creates opportunities for two-way connections (Host-to-WWOOFer and WWOOFer-to-WWOOFer), and empowers hosts to find WWOOFers who are the best fit for their farm.

This feature has been built specifically to curb those concerns, while still allowing our hosts the freedom to set up enriching WWOOF exchanges. We think that we’ve done that. We hope you enjoy it!

P.S. This is just the start. We expect to see many more exciting upgrades and improvements to this feature in the coming months and years.

WWOOF UK is going through a period of transition as we adjust to new contextual challenges. This has give us the opportunity to revisit whether we are making the most of the amazing network we are part of. 

Do you want to be part of this next chapter? 

We are particularly keen to hear from anyone with skills in promotions and marketing or with a legal background. We want to represent the diversity of the WWOOF community and encourage applications from all ages, ethnic and class backgrounds, people with disabilities and who identify as being LGTBQIA.

Full details about the role can be found here.

Keep in touch with us

We’ve created a page where you and your friends can sign-up to receive our newsletters as a way keep in touch with us. Those with an active membership will receive our newsletters automatically but we also produce a non-members’ edition to help those thinking about joining and for staying in touch even when your membership has expired.

Share this link to sign-up to our newsletter.

And last but not least….

We’d love to hear your stories, your events, your news! It’s you who make our newsletter the colourful, relevant and engaging read that we all enjoy at each of the seasonal festivals. You can send your valuable contributions to: editor@wwoof.org.uk Also, as you know, social media is a great way to help promote WWOOFing and show the world what we do – if you have the time to take some photos (or videos) and share them on your socials please use #wwoofuk and/or @wwoofuk

Many thanks for being part of the vibrant and buzzing WWOOF community in the UK.

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