Loughborough Alumni


Holly Penalver

9 Apr 2019

Charity founder seeks volunteers to support refugee projects

Holly Penalver (Psychology 2008) is the CEO and Founder of the charity Indigo Volunteers, formed in 2012 in response to a series of projects she had encountered when volunteering abroad.

In the seven years since its conception, Holly (pictured above) has been working to find ethical ways to organise volunteering. Indigo Volunteers matchmakes people with grassroot humanitarian projects around the world and removes the fees usually charged for this service. They also support these projects with materials for best working practice.

The organisation currently works with 75 projects worldwide. Since the Refugee crisis began in 2015, the offering has included refugee and migrant related projects and in 2016, Indigo Volunteers collaborated with the charity Help Refugees in this field. Together they work to provide on-the-ground volunteer coordination and project support at several crisis hotspots. 

There are currently 45 refugee & migrant projects on offer along the European refugee route in Greece, Bosnia, Serbia, France & Lebanon. Since 2015, Indigo have placed 1700 volunteers to over 80 partner projects along the route.

Volunteers on-site

Indigo have clear aims, led by Holly’s passion for ethical practice. Eliminating corruption, removing barriers to volunteering and encouraging new volunteers to get involved are just some of these.

Working alongside alumna Holly is a large team of volunteers and a Board of Trustees. Three other Loughborough alumnae are involved. Camilla Thurlow, former Love Island contestant and humanitarian worker, is a member of the Indigo Board of Trustees. She studied Sport and Exercise Science at Loughborough, graduating in 2010. The charity's Head of Social Media is Communication and Media Studies alumna, Josephine Rains, who graduated in the same year. 2018 Psychology graduate Sophie Rihm is also involved as a Volunteer Coordinator in Greece as part of the Refugee and Migrant team in the area.  

Holly said:

"I never thought I would set up a charity. When I discovered the terrible practices that were happening within the volunteering sector and how it affected the charities and volunteers alike, I did not even see it as a choice; I had to act.

"Our goal is to help as many charities as possible by finding them the volunteers they need to keep their activities running, be it a hospital, refugee camp, school, food project or otherwise. Over the next couple of years, we hope to keep gradually expanding as it is clear how much our services are needed!"

If you are interested in finding out more about Indigo Volunteers, visit their website.

+44(0)1509 228497

Hazlerigg Building
Loughborough University
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