How it all started
Concordia first started in 1943 during the Second World Ward when young people were encouraged to support the war effort by gathering fruit and crops in the fields. After the war young people from Europe were invited to take part in a scheme in order to rebuild international friendships and to promote peace. Today, the scheme is known as the Seasonal Agricultural Work Scheme (SAWS) and offers foreign students the opportunity to do paid seasonal farm work in the UK.
Concordia’s mission statement is:
“Fostering cross-cultural understanding and friendship by providing young people with quality opportunities for international volunteering, work experience, education and training”
For nearly 70 years now, we’ve provided volunteering and work opportunities overseas and here in the UK. Today we work with 80 partner organisations from 60 countries. Each one is either a member of the Alliance of European Voluntary Services or the Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service (CCIVS).
We each organise projects in our own countries, and then ‘swap’ the volunteer places. So every project ends up with a rich mix of nationalities. You’ll learn stuff you could never get from reading or the internet, not just about the place where you volunteer – but about the different habits, attitudes, foods and ways of life of many countries. We believe there’s no better way to promote real, lasting understanding across cultures, continents and political divides.
This system of exchange, relies on the mutual trust that has been established over many years of working together. Because we are all non profit organisations, it means we can keep volunteer costs to a minimum.
All of the members of the Alliance of European Voluntary Services, Concordia included, work to minimum standards set out in the Alliance’s Quality Charter.