Mary this is so depressing to hear! There is growing interesting in volunteer tourism in the UK at the moment and Tourism Concern has been fielding a lot of questions from the media since we had the conference last year. It is a rapidly growing market and I suppose was always in danger of losing touch with its values and purpose because of this.
I just wanted to make a distinction between Gap year volunteers and older volunteers, I think they are very different groups of people with very different reasons for volunteering. Gap year volunteers are predominantly students taking time out before or after college for some excitement and new experiences.
On the other hand there is a growing number of professional people who genuinely want to contribute their labour to people less fortunate than themselves. Of course, they will also have more selfish reasons for volunteering but, mostly, they just want to help. There has been an explosion of operators to service this market and the prices some of them charge are incredible! At the moment there is no way of knowing whether the volunteer or the community they are meant to be helping is being ripped off. This is why Tourism Concern has started to look at codes of practice.