Friday November 11th, 2016
November is a chance to have a month of planning. It is the month when we evaluate, plan and organise ourselves, our leaders and our volunteers for the year ahead. We visit UK hosts, go overseas to meet our friends and our colleagues from our two networks and ensure that we are ready. The exception is NCS; where participants and leaders are putting into action all their new skills and completing the autumn programme with awareness raising and a Reindeer Flash Mob.
Fiona , Francesco, Jess, Karen, Suzi & Victor
VOLUNTEERING, MIGRATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS
At the beginning of November, Francesco, our International Volunteer Programme Co-ordinator, attended the annual General Assembly of the Alliance of European Voluntary Service Organisations. The event took place from 2nd to 6th November in Petnica, Serbia, where Francesco met our international partners to evaluate our common work done in 2016 and plan for the future.
It was good to see during the event that our network has been increasingly focused on global issues such as environmental sustainability, social inclusion, gender issues and migration. This last topic was introduced in 2016 as theme of the year, and the Alliance has developed several projects and actions in the attempt to find ways to respond to the challenges rising from global migration in Europe and around the world.
In cooperation with CCIVS, our second international network, the Alliance network in October also joined the campaign called “Global Rights Week”(17th -22nd October) and led a social media campaign on 20th October called “Human Rights have no passport”. The president for the Network, Mattia Lolli, put words on the role of the network and organisations:
“We, as networks and organisations engaged in the management of International Voluntary Service (IVS) projects, are committed to a world in which all peoples are free to move and free to settle. These rights are universal, inalienable and to be exercised without distinction of any kind […]. We believe that human rights, freedom of movement and multiculturalism are universal values that must be recognised beyond any border”. You can read here the full statement from the Alliance President.
At the end of this month, Victor and Fiona, our Group Volunteering Administrator and Volunteer Manager respectively, are getting ready to join the General Assembly of our second international network, CCIVS, from 22nd to the 28th November in Bouznika, Morocco. This event is organised every two years, so it’s a great opportunity to catch up with partners coming from Africa, Asia, Central and South America, consolidate our partnership with them and developing new projects together.
It might be the first time, on the tenth. Regardless, when a group of volunteers decides to go overseas with us, they embark on a journey different to anything they done before.
From the first day, the group are introduced to the country, the host and what to expect from the project. What we aim to do is to make sure that the group is well-prepared for meeting a different culture to the one at home. For example, visiting a shop, the language and even such a thing as eating breakfast might be different from the one the volunteers are used to in their home country.
Before departure, we lead the group in a cultural awareness session, as part of our training sessions on the programme. We do this, because we believe that fusion of cultures should be seen in a positive light, and being aware of cultural differences is the first step forward.
You can read more about our programme, and the preparations we do, here.
SUZI’S VISIT TO THE LAKE DISTRICT
One of the highlights of my job is getting to visit our partner projects around the UK. During the peak summer period, these visits are usually to projects in Sussex and Hampshire. However, as I write this I’m mid-way through a visit to a project that’s a bit further from the south coast. Manjushri International Centre for Modern Buddhism is located just outside Ulverston on the edge of the Lake District.
As a keen hiker and climber, I’ve visited the Lake District many times, and I’ve been particularly looking forward to spending some time at Manjushri. I’ve been warmly welcomed and the centre is an inspirational place that embraces our values of promoting world-wide cooperation, exchange and peace.
Volunteers come to Manjushri for 2 weeks during the summer, and assist with the general running of the centre, from working in the art studio and temple, to helping run the café and maintaining the peaceful gardens.
If you like the sound of joining a project like Manjushri in the UK we do accept applications from a small number of British volunteers onto the UK projects. We try and make sure all our projects have a mix of nationalities taking part, so everyone experiences the cultural exchange aspect, that’s at the heart of Concordia’s values.
If you’ve got some previous volunteer experience you could also consider joining one of the UK projects as a Project Coordinator. Most of our UK projects need one or two experienced volunteers to help the project run smoothly as well as representing Concordia. You’ll act as a link between the international volunteers, Concordia and the hosting organisation. You’ll still be joining in with the regular volunteer work, as well as arranging activities for the weekends and free time. Coordinators are also responsible for the budget (for social activities and food).
One of our most successful long-term projects in the UK runs for 8 months from March to November at the YMCA Fairthorne Manor close to Southampton. The volunteers join the activity delivery team, receiving training in running activities like canoeing, high ropes, rock climbing, archery and raft building, before working closely with the children that attend the day camps and activity holidays.
The 2016 programme has just ended with 10 volunteers from France, Greece, Argentina, Mexico, Kenya and Vietnam taking part. Community Manager, Yvette told us:
“International volunteers play a huge part in the delivery of our activities and experiences to young people. For the children to have the opportunity to meet people from so many cultures and backgrounds that are able to share their lives and experiences with them is amazing.”
We’re now accepting applications for the 2017 project.
NATIONAL CITIZEN SERVICE
AWESOME AUTUMN – NCS #GOTTHIS
First of all, welcome to Jess joining our team!
The autumn 2016 NCS programme was an amazing experience for all those involved. It started with a visit to the Isle of Wight, where the NCSers took part in a wide range of outdoor activities at the PGL Little Canada Camp. This was not for the feint hearted, but all of the young people rose to the challenges that they were faced with. They were, however, beaten by a team of Brownies in the dragon boat racing!
In Phase 2, the young people were introduced to the work of several charities from their local area. This inspired them to create projects to help the charities, which they presented to the Dragon’s Den for their expert consideration and feedback. They also completed a beach clean in Worthing, amassing a total of 35 kilos of litter in the process.
What strikes us here at the Concordia NCS team is that even though the autumn programme is a lot shorter and condensed, it is truly amazing how participants use the experience to push themselves and think differently just for a moment and forge relationships with other people that even if they live in the same area or go to the same school they may not have talked to before or worked on anything together. It is also fantastic that we are coming across even more community groups and charities that we were not familiar with before such as The Springboard Project this autumn that do fantastic work and needed some extra support and certainly some funds. So if you know of any other charitable causes that needs our fantastic NCS young people’s input then give us a shout to include them in our charity talks for the next programme.
Team Bears: PDSA created a ‘Stop Abuse’ Facebook page to raise awareness of cruelty to animals. They have also planned a fundraising event on 12th November to raise money for their chosen charity.
SuperHeroes Elite: Chestnut Tree House / Springboard Project decided to do a Reindeer Flash Mob in Worthing to raise awareness for Chestnut Tree House. They also completed a sponsored walk between Worthing and Brighton piers to raise funds for The Springboard Project. They have already smashed their target of £300, with monies still to be collected.
Finally, the young people got to work on their social action projects with a determination to make a real difference to their community. This will all be highlighted at the Autumn Graduation which will allow all the participants to reunite and celebrate their achievements and a fab venue in Shoreham by Sea.