Driven by a mission of peace and international solidarity, UNA Exchange has 45 years’ experience of delivering impactful international volunteering projects with partners in Wales and across the world.
The charity was formed in 1973, as the United Nations Association for International Youth Service (Wales), with origins in the 1950s/1960s, when young people from Wales were motivated to volunteer their time and energy, in solidarity, to help rebuild communities, largely in Europe, in the aftermath of the Second World War. These young peace-builders were part of a pan-European movement of international voluntary service that persists today in the Alliance of European Voluntary Service Organisations of which we were a founding member in 1982 and continue to actively participate. Together Alliance members: ‘promote intercultural understanding, peace, democratic participation and equality, in the spirit of respect for universal human rights’.
Across a portfolio of short- and long-term projects hosted in Wales and abroad, our three key strategic priorities at UNA Exchange are to deliver beneficial outcomes for participants, the communities with which they volunteer and our third-sector partners with whom we create opportunities for change.
Outcomes for young people
Our key beneficiaries are young people, aged predominantly 18–30 years, who have formative and, especially for those with fewer opportunities, life-changing experiences: they help, learn and grow. Volunteers develop confidence and problem-solving skills, facing new challenges in a safe, supported environment. Through living and volunteering with people from different countries and backgrounds, they develop intercultural competencies, learn new languages and grow as global citizens. The practical and vocational elements of voluntary service also provide alternative routes into training and employment, increasing life chances.
Outcomes for Communities
As a values-oriented not-for-profit organisation, all UNA Exchange activities are designed to deliver public benefit. Our projects are grassroots-driven, meeting the needs of, and as expressed by, the communities with which volunteering takes place. At the heart of this lies our commitment to promote a fair and equal society. As such the charity contributes to delivery of Future Generations Well-being Goals across Wales and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals worldwide.
Outcomes for voluntary sector partners
Partnership working is at the heart of our delivery model. Indeed, collaboration is both a means and end in itself such that capacity building is a critical outcome across all projects. Partners are selected on the basis of their alignment with our mission and core values, the quality of the volunteering experience on offer, and the beneficial change that increased capacity will provide to the voluntary sector during and after a project.
Visit our Volunteer Journeys page to find out more about volunteering abroad directly from our alumni.