UNA Exchange has existed in its present form since 1973, but grew out of a volunteering movement that is almost 100 years old. The organisation has always been based in the Temple of Peace in Cardiff. The international volunteering tradition began as a peace movement after the First World War. The horrors of that conflict inspired a Swiss pacifist, Pierre Ceresole, to bring together young people from France and Germany to voluntarily assist in the reconstruction efforts in Europe.
Such high ideals of the international volunteering movement spread rapidly throughout the 20th century, throughout the world. The end of the Cold War in 1989 further accelerated its growth, particularly in Europe, as a tool for youth, community and international development.
UNA Exchange is a corollary of the United Nations Association which began in Wales in 1973 and is very much based on the same principles that inspired those in the early part of the 20th century. We gained charitable status in the early 80s before becoming a Charitable Incorporated Organisation in 2014 (Charity no. 1158106).
Our founding members - most notably Robert Davies and John Burford - were community activists in South Wales and UNA Exchange was just one of many organisations in which they were involved. They believed that by bringing people from different backgrounds together to work on common projects, for the benefit of local communities, barriers could be broken down and differences could be understood, appreciated and celebrated. These values still form the basis of everything we do, whether weekend projects or year-long volunteering.
Mission and Vision
Our vision is a world that seeks cooperation celebrates diversity and creates opportunity.
Our mission is to promote peace, mutual understanding and personal development by providing integration volunteering opportunities for young people.
In practice we strive to achieve this through our work in the following areas:
Working as part of an international team, you will participate in an affordable, two- to four-week, community-based volunteering project.
Through our international partners we offer over 1,300 projects worldwide from renovating castles in Slovakia, to turtle conservation in Mexico, to working with children in Japan.
This programme offers supported, two- to two- month volunteer projects across Europe, enabling young people with fewer opportunities to participate in life-changing experiences.
You will work to develop confidence and team work skills, and to prepare for living and working abroad before setting off on the adventure of a lifetime.
EVS offers a fully funded, two- to twelve-month volunteer experience abroad working with a non-profit organisation.
Learn new skills and make new friends whilst getting to know another country, culture and language.
Working with Cardiff University and St. John Ambulance, we are able to offer a limited number of group projects each year. This year, we sent groups to Japan and the Czech Republic.
Please contact us at [email protected] if you are interested in taking part in a group project or if you would like to become a partner organisation.
Training in leadership, diversity and intercultural understanding
Choose from a range of courses, such as leadership, international youth work, global citizenship, intercultural understanding, and much more. We also offer pre-departure training for all volunteers taking part in our voluteering programmes.