Jamie, ASH Wales: EVS brings an international perspective to our work
ASH Wales Cymru is one of our partner organisations, who decided to host EVS volunteers in their office. Find out more about benefits of hosting an EVS volunteer in your organisation and read an interview with Jamie Jones-Mead.
Why you decided to host EVS volunteers in ASH Wales Cymru?
“I had a very good reference on EVS from my colleagues at CWVYS (The Council for Wales of Voluntary Youth Services). They said that having an EVS volunteer was of great benefit to their organisation, because it was possible to have a skilled volunteer to do work needed, such as communication and social media. We initially looked to have an EVS volunteer, which would have maybe helped with the policy and communications aspect. When we advertised an EVS role we decided to opt for a very generic role including what we do, so we could have more flexibility in picking the right candidate.”
How did you find the EVS application process?
“We received a lot of very good applicants, and later we decided to take the one who was less experienced than the others, as we believed that the person would fit into the team a lot better and we could develop him within the organisation. We asked UNA Exchange to become our partner and help with the complex application process. UNA Exchange also arranged all necessary support for volunteers, such as on-arrival training and supervision sessions. I think it has not been that challenging and I think it has been a very easy process so far. It helped us to focus on daily tasks for volunteers and support him on daily basis, which is something we are familiar with, because we would do that for any staff member or volunteer in our organisation anyway.”
What does an EVS volunteer do in ASH Wales Cymru?
“Our EVS volunteer is younger than the majority of our staff so we think it is good for him to learn new things all the time and we try to give him as broad range of experiences as he is able to do, to learn the skills and decide by the end of the year what he would like to do in the future. Therefore, the activities that he is doing are very varied: he supports sessions in schools for challenging young people and delivering quit smoking advice, he prepares and print worksheets for sessions, he is taking pictures, and writing reports. We also always need to send somebody out to work with our youth worker, so it is good opportunity to send an EVS volunteer learn new skills and give youth worker somebody to work with. It means that we don’t have to send all our staff out – we can send one staff member with EVS volunteer. This gives us more flexibility to get more things at the same time. Even though he is only nineteen, he delivered much more work than I would expect and he is doing really well.”
What can international volunteers gain from doing an EVS project in ASH Wales Cymru?
“Through this experience an EVS volunteer can gain variety of different skills and ideas for future work and studies. Because Ash Wales is very much public health charity, I think that EVS volunteer can bring the volunteer sense of helping others generally and working with young people. We try to give the volunteer as positive and wide ranging experience as possible and to develop them as a person. Some situations might be really challenging: in our work we often work with young people who can’t cope in schools. But I think volunteers will learn much more this way. Our role is to challenge the volunteer but also to stay very positive and supportive at the same time. That’s very useful practical experience, especially if volunteers want to become a teacher, social worker or youth worker.”
What positive impact does EVS volunteers have on ASH Wales Cymru?
“A big advantage of hosting EVS volunteers for Ash Wales Cymru is that an EVS volunteer is very reliable. In contrast with local volunteers we can expect him to come daily and work essentially as a full time member of staff. Also we have an international project delivering on smoking information in Austria, Spain, Poland and Romania. Therefore an EVS volunteer is a great person to help us with our European programs and help with any language issues.”
What would you say to other organisations who are thinking about hosting an EVS volunteer?
“It is really good opportunity for organisations to host EVS volunteers. It does not cost lots of money and you gain somebody who is almost full-time member of staff for a year. It brings a great international perspective and young spirit into our work.”