Host a Short-Term Group Project in Wales

In Wales the International Volunteer Projects (IVPs) co-ordinated and supported by UNA Exchange are initiated and run locally by host organisations such as Country Parks, Communities First groups or Local Authorities. We only work with not-for-profit groups and partners, working for the benefit of the wider community. We have been working through these partnerships since we began in 1973; the local ownership of the project is vitally important in ensuring there is a real need for the international volunteers.

Examples of recent/current projects include:
  • Constructing a round house from sustainable materials, Llyn Peninsula
  • Supporting community workers to run the summer playscheme at Maes Yr Haf, Rhondda Cynon Taff
  • Footpath clearance and improvements at the Afan Forest Park, Neath/Port Talbot
  • Providing technical support to NoFitState Circus (on tour)
  • Creating a community mural together with young people at Merthy Youth Club, Merthyr Tydfil
  • Working in schools to run informal lessons on different cultures and organise events, Rhondda Cynon Taff

If you are a community group, UNA Exchange can provide you with a group of international volunteers, plus a trained group leader for around two-three weeks. We will work with you through the planning stages and support the project when it is running. The leader will be the central link between us all during the IVP. We have various supporting materials which can help you understand your role and how to get the most out of a project. Thanks to the support of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Active Communities grant scheme, from 2007 we will also be running training/preparation sessions with host projects and producing more information to assist you in adding an international dimension to your work.

What do you have to do?

As a host, you will be required to plan and supervise the work of the international volunteers as they are not necessarily skilled in work terms. You will also have to provide any necessary tools and materials. You must cover the costs of food (£3.50 per person/per day) and arrange suitable accommodation (usually a community centre or similar building). The leader will support the group to do their own shopping, cooking and cleaning. If the volunteers need transport to get to work, that is also your responsibility.

If your project is of a social nature, or if the project will be working with children or vulnerable adults, we can require the volunteers to provide a ‘Certificate of Good Conduct’ which from most countries is provided by the police and is the closest we can get to a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check. We have an extensive Child Protection Policy and working standards which we will happily discuss with prospective host projects.

One of the key objectives of UNA Exchange is to enable people in Wales to interact with and understand different cultures We try to ensure that the host communities have all the possible skills, resources and support to maximise interaction and learning. We will be producing new materials, toolkits and training in 2007 to help you in this.

If you think you might like to host an IVP or are curious to know more, please look over these two documents, Hosting an International Volunteer Project and Project Basics .

The next step is to contact UNA Exchange, by contacting by e-mail or telephone (029 2022 3088). We are always very happy to talk about new ideas and explore ways that we can help bring an international dimension to more communities in Wales, so please do get in touch!

Case Study - a current project host

The Bell Centre, in the small village of Blaenllechau in the Rhondda Valley, is a community facility which provides a wide range of services and support for local people. UNA Exchange and the Bell Centre have worked together since 1999.

Short-term group projects
The Bell Centre runs a summer playscheme for more than 50 local children aged between 5 and 12, plus a youth drop-in centre for young people aged up to 25. A two-week short-term group project supports the local staff and volunteers each summer, providing much needed extra pairs of hands and a valuable international flavour. Attached to the Bell Centre is a Community Farm which has also organised International Volunteer Projects, with volunteers helping to build forest footpaths and renovate buildings. The UNA Exchange volunteers arrive with ideas, experiences and energy and leave with a large group of new friends, great stories to tell and good working experiences.

Long-term volunteers
Our first contact with the Bell Centre was in fact through them hosting a long term EVS volunteer from Belgium in 1999. This was such a good experience, for the volunteer and the Centre, that we went on to explore other forms of co-operation.

Global Education work
We have run several Global Education workshops in recent years, bringing visitors from India, the Ivory Coast, Togo, Malawi and elsewhere to work with local young people on issues ranging from fairtrade and trade justice to the reality of poverty in the developing world. The children and young people have always responded to these visits very positively and actively engaged with complex issues.

Leadership training
One of the volunteer youth workers at the Bell Centre, Michael Caswell, joined the UNA Exchange Leaders Training course in 2004. He was the leader of the summer International Volunteer Project that year and in 2005 he led a group of young people from Blaenllechau to a youth exchange with Germany. Michael eventually went on to become a paid member of staff at the Centre. He continues to support the international volunteers that work in the village.

Volunteering abroad
Following the visits of international volunteers to the Bell Centre, several young people from Blaenllechau have participated in projects in other countries including France, Germany and Lithuania. It is our intention and hope in working with local community groups in Wales that local young people will take advantage of the opportunities we offer abroad; it is the international volunteering cycle coming full circle.