Why is international volunteering important?
With more than forty years’ experience of supporting people (mostly, but not only, young people) to volunteer internationally, we know the huge potential gains in terms of personal development that can be achieved.
UNA Exchange believes that opportunities to be challenged and to grow should be available to as many people as possible. Many of the young people living in the Welsh communities where our own activities take place are struggling to move forward, to find employment and they face many challenges in their everyday lives.
It is our aim to see more of the young people local to our own work taking part in volunteering abroad as we believe it can help to address some of the issues they are facing.
What is the Step by Step programme?
The Step by Step programme was created as a way of increasing the participation in international volunteering of young people with fewer opportunities. The programme is targeted towards anyone aged 18-25 and resident in Wales who faces one or more of the following obstacles:
- Educational difficulties
- Economic obstacles
- Cultural differences
- Health problems
- Social obstacles
- Geographical obstacles
It is also essential that Step by Step participants meet the following criteria:
- Recommended and supported by a local worker (eg. youth/community worker)
- Currently involved in some form of volunteering/training/engagement
- Ready for the experience and open to be challenged, to discover, to encounter and deal with difficulties
- Able to attend one of the compulsory Pre-Departure Training dates
- Able to contribute (ideally through fundraising) £150 towards participation
Through the Step by Step programme we try to manage and reduce the barriers that young people with fewer opportunities might be facing by providing additional support (ourselves and via the Local Partners), training and follow-up.
“With volunteering abroad young people find something they can engage with and can enjoy. I think sometimes they are caught in a very small world, so when they get to see something else, it changes them massively. “
How much does Step by Step cost?
Importantly, the programme is almost fully funded (travel, insurance, training costs and a small personal allowance are all provided). We are able to cover the costs of participation with the generous support of GwirVol (the Welsh Government’s youth volunteering initiative) and the Erasmus+ programme. As above, we do ask that Step by Step volunteers raise £150 towards the cost of their trip.
What can a Step by Step volunteer do?
The opportunities offered through our Step by Step programme are run by trusted and long-established partners of UNA Exchange in other countries. They are existing projects/activities (such as those found on our main database of workcamps), into which Step by step volunteers are invited and integrated; they are not treated differently to any other volunteers, except that they are given more support to get there (practically and individually). Most of the opportunities are for 2-3 weeks but each year we have a handful of two-month projects on offer to those who have already completed a shorter international project. We also offer two or three small projects (‘Youth Exchanges’) for groups of young people who are not yet ready for an independent experience.
How can I find out more?
If you are a young person interested in the Step by Step programme, please note that you will need be referred to us via a local organisation with which you are already involved.
If you are a local organisation and would like to talk about Step by Step and a possible partnership, please contact [email protected] or [email protected], or call 029 2022 3088. We’d love to hear from you!
Meet Calum, Daniel and other young people who took part in the Step by Step program and find out how this experience helped them in their lives.