Thursday December 21st, 2017
So here we are again, trying to summarise the year of 2017, while most of us already are rushing into the next year. But it is important to look back and acknowledge the amazing year we’ve been having; for our volunteers, both veterans and new, who went abroad to support communities and our partners through volunteering actions. Also highlighting the great experience and personal growth we seen in the international volunteers joining us here in the UK, and of course the wonderful journey the leaders and young people from NCS have undertaken with us over this summer.
We have all of you to thank for what we have achieved this year, and I believe that we deserve having the last days of this year spent together the best way we redeem fit. At Concordia, we got our gift a week early as we are now proudly mentioned in “A Traveller’s guide to making a difference around the world” by Lonely Planet (2017).
2017 in a glance
2017 has been an amazing year for the International Volunteering. Our volunteers went to 14 different countries across Europe, Africa and Asia, and joined a variety of projects around the environment, manual and construction, teaching and care home. Friendships were made, memories were created and fun, oh yes, they all had!
Looking through the volunteers’ lenses, we saw the life and the spirit of international volunteering in pictures. We published the finalists’ entries on our Facebook page and left for the public to decide… and Amy Hunter was crowned the winner with the picture featuring herself, another volunteer and a young lad building a toilet in Nepal.
Barney Smith is a veteran when it comes to volunteering internationally. He has joined quite a few projects in the past with Concordia and this year in addition to renovating an old mill in France, he became a coordinator for our UK project in the Manjushri KMC Buddhist centre. His picture of two volunteers removing weed from the garden was the second most liked picture. We will see you again next year Barney with a 40% project discount!
Emily Matthews inspired us with her true sense of solidarity when she joined the Asylum Seekers Centre in Belgium to help build a BBQ area. The picture featuring the whole group dancing gave her the third place in the competition and a 20% discount on our project for the next year.
Our long-term volunteers Ashleigh, Jamal, Gina, Pepe and James are taking a short break from their EVS projects in Germany, Spain and Romania and coming back home for a well-deserved break to spend the Festive period with their families and friends. They have been busy supporting projects in schools, youth and community centres and learning the local costumes and language of their hosting countries.
Since joining Concordia in July, I have had the amazing opportunity to meet extremely motivated volunteers and was moved by their commitment to work together to support communities. I have exciting plans for 2018, but first I will recharge my batteries and spend the Festive period with my extended family in London. Have a wonderful time everyone!
A successful year of volunteering in the UK
It’s been an amazing year for Concordia and our UK Programme! We hosted over 80 volunteers on 19 community projects. They joined us from Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, USA and Vietnam. We would really like to thank all of them for the amazing contribution to our local projects and communities in the UK!
Nothing is better to summarise this summer than the words of the main protagonists, so here is what some of our international volunteers say about their experience: “It’s been a great experience for my personal growth”; “multicultural and rewarding experience to meet people you would not have known in your life” and “I learned a lot on the camp. I wanted to be more eco and this project opened my eyes! I will be talking about this experience when I get home!”
We would also like to thank our project co-ordinators who supported the international volunteers on their project working hard to give them the best time of their lives. Without our co-ordinators it would be impossible to do what we do, so we are happy that they get a lot out of this experience. Here is what they say: “I chose to co-ordinate to broaden my volunteer experience and meet people and have fun in the summer. My experience was amazing!” (Alex, co-ordinator at Green and Away Set up), “The experience and skills I obtained from my first coordinator role are invaluable and will be of great use to me in my future career” (Hlanganiso, co-ordinator at Patchfest). If you are interested, read more here about how to become a Concordia coordinator in 2018.
Finally a big thank you to all our hosts and local organisations who are working with Concordia to create a world that fosters friendship and intercultural understanding. We look forward to another successful year of volunteering in the UK in 2018!
Review of the year
The Concordia NCS team have had an incredibly busy, productive and rewarding year.
The Meet Up events for the summer programme start early and from February to June we hosted events around Worthing and Shoreham for the summer sign-ups to get to know each other. From fun team challenge games to circus skills sessions, we had more young people than ever before getting to know their NCS family before starting the summer 2017 programme.
From January to June we’re also focused on one of the most important aspects of NCS, recruiting and training our amazing NCS staff. We hosted several group interviews in March and ran a big weekend training and final selection weekend in May. If you’re interested in joining an incredible team of staff in summer 2018, find out more here.
We had a fantastic turn-out for the 2 Summer programmes, exceeding our target and carrying out two very successful waves. The first wave started at the beginning of July and the young people went to Devon for their first week of jam-packed adventure and fun. For the second wave, the young people were based in the beautiful New Forest and stayed at the Avon Tyrell centre where they spent 5 days building rafts, canoeing, climbing and doing many other fantastic activities.
In the blink of an eye, summer was over and we were straight into preparing for our Autumn programme. This programme runs for 10 days over the October half-term holiday and provides the young people with a very intimate NCS experience which is a joy to work on. The young people headed to the Isle of Wight for their residential phase where they enjoyed abseiling, zip wire and spotting the red squirrels.
With both summer and autumn graduation events now over, our attention has turned to summer 2018! We’re also developing the graduate programme for the class of 2017. Read more about NCS here.