Friday March 4th, 2016
March is the month when you truly can see what Concordia is all about!
The NCS team out and about meeting future participants, technical meeting in Estonia together with international partners, and the co-ordinator weekend coming up for our UK programme, we are ready to say that March is the month of meeting and preparation. Read more further down.
Fiona, Aisha, Francesco, Hannah, Karen & Victor
Countdown to Summer Programme
It’s March already! And Francesco, our International Volunteer Programme Co-ordinator, is spending a week in Estonia right now to meet with our international partners of the Alliance of European Voluntary Service Organisations to discuss the new volunteering programmes for summer 2016. On the 22nd March we will have over 1500 volunteer projects listed on our online database! This means that we can finally start the countdown to our new summer programme! T -18 days!
During this international event, Francesco is taking part in short speed date meetings with each and every organisation participating, plus a one day of workshops dedicated to improving the quality of our volunteering projects. Working days are long, you start at 9am and you end around 11pm, but it’s an amazing opportunity to talk to all our partners to evaluate the previous year’s cooperation and plan for the coming summer. We can’t stress enough how precious this event is to consolidate our Network of organisations and friends worldwide.
On another note, at the beginning of February we welcomed Maxime, our new Medium Term Volunteer from France, who will spend 8 months at our office as part of our team. His role will be to look after the applicants who want to go to volunteer projects with our East West programme, providing any support and information is needed, and he will also help us with the placement of international volunteers on our projects in the UK. Thank you Maxime!
Finally, at the end of March, Francesco will make another trip abroad, this time to Italy, to visit two host organisations that will host two groups this summer. This trip is all about carrying our health and safety checks on the projects and finalising the programme of activities for the volunteers. To reach one of the project sites Francesco will have to walk up a mountain trek for about 2 hours! This is going to be exciting!
Concordia is looking to recruit new groups for our Group Volunteering programme in 2017. If you are a leader of a group of young people and want to organise a group volunteering experience during the summer 2017, please contact us as soon as possible via email, and we will be happy to send you more information and discuss options available. You can also read here more information about our Group Volunteering programme.
UK projects, International groups
We have wonderful news to share with you. After many hours of collaborative work with all our projects across the UK and choosing the best photos from our past project Coordinators from last year – we have completed our UK Programme. It is all shiny, bright and ready for you to see. This really showcases all the potential exciting experiences you could have over the summer, either by working as a Coordinator or joining as a volunteer. International volunteers will be able to start applying on 29th March when we go live with our programme to our 80 global partners. For this reason, our weekend in Estonia is essential to publicise all our great projects in the UK from the Lake District to Cornwall.
One of the most enjoyable aspects about joining a UK project is to be a part of the group of enthusiastic individuals sharing their stories, working together and cooking up your favourite recipe in the kitchen with willing mouths to feed. We try to make sure that within every group there is a diversity of nationalities, languages and motivations to be involved. We also work hard to support the Coordinators (add link to website Group Coordinators) to provide clear leadership which draws on people’s strengths, manages expectations and enables everyone to get stuck in.
We spend a long time developing training resources about group dynamics and how to manage and improve situations if personalities clash or expectations are not clearly met. Aisha is going to share with you a couple of key things to bear in mind. One really useful activity to bring in every day is to provide an opportunity for reflection. This is where the whole group can identify what went well, what was challenging and what they have learnt. We have a huge array of resources for running reflection activities and making them a way of valuing other members of the group, identifying people who have showed leadership or generosity or providing ways of enabling change to make things better. Having a regular opportunity to air concerns, and share ideas and learning, makes for a really strong team dynamic and fosters a sense of community.
Secondly, when we look at common aspects of group development they identify five stages to the evolution of a group. One such aspect that it is natural for any group to follow is a ‘storming’ phase. This can follow an initial high point of everyone getting to know each other and then something can happen to cause some discontent within the group. The ‘storming phase’ can be used as an essential part of engaging the group and role modelling effective diplomacy and compromise. If we look forward to this part of any group forming, then we can use it as a tool for deepening learning and strengthening connections with skills and resources in managing conflict and effective listening. These are just a couple of our secrets that Coordinators will learn on our annual Coordinator training next weekend.
#1000stories is our way to show the 1000 different ways volunteering, coordinating and being a leader can benefit you, both for your personal development, but also your professional career, preparing you for your higher educations or joining a new working position. Press the #1000stories link to read the words. One of them is Margaux. We were thrilled to hear from one of our Coordinators from last year who has a new job in Canada.
‘I am going to develop a NGO supporting refugees’ integration into society. I really think that my experience as a coordinator helped me to get that job for two reasons: it showed my employer that I had a real interest in managing a team and in having responsibilities; and it proved that exchanging and learning from people with different cultures was something I cared about.’
New Skills, New Thrills
Spring is here, NCS Summer 2016 is only 3 months away, and we are so excited we can hardly contain ourselves! With the momentum building, we’re very happy to see NCS is back on TV for the second year running – keep a look out for our amazing new advert or you can watch it here. NCS really is an experience to change your life and we’ve had the pleasure of working with many of our graduates over the last few months who continue to spread the same message- NCS… Just do it! Graduates have been supporting us with promotional events, radio interviews and just about anything else NCS related. If you’re a graduate and you’d like to help out with future events and schools, colleges and other venues, just let us know! You can also join our graduate hub on Facebook where we post various opportunities each week that you can get involved in.
Likewise, if you’re a partner organisation and think you may have a project, opportunity or anything else accessible for our NCS young people- get in touch! NCS is only available to young people under the age of 18 (unless they have a disability or an additional need, in which case we work with up to 25 years) so they need to take advantage of this opportunity NOW, before it’s too late.
If you know of anyone 15-17 years old who would like to take part in NCS this summer, there are many ways they can get involved. Check out www.ncsyes.co.uk, call us 01233 600138 or email Hannah@concordiavolunteers.org.uk Places are going fast, and we don’t want anyone to miss out!
For all you NCS graduates out there, we’re offering you an incredible opportunity to get involved with our incredible overseas voluntary projects. You’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in a different culture, gain vital skills and knowledge in an international setting and have an experience you will never forget. Places are limited, and contact us now to secure your place of one of 1500 projects available to choose from!
If you’ve taken part in NCS with us before, we’re offering an exclusive offer to NCS graduates only: £40 DISCOUNT on our overseas projects in countries across Asia, Africa and South America. We have short term and long term projects available, there is something to suit everyone. Take advantage of this amazing opportunity, and click here for more info or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.