‘UNA Exchange is a Cardiff based charity which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. We are a National Voluntary Youth Organisation, supported by the Welsh Government, and a member of CWVYS (the Council for Wales of Voluntary Youth Services) and of the GwirVol Partnership.
UNA Exchange works with a large network of international partner organisations across the world, co-ordinating community based projects in our own countries and exchanging volunteers. This type of activity, mainly for young people, has grown to the degree that, today, UNA Exchange offers more than 1,000 volunteering opportunities in over 50 countries each year. The majority of the projects that we offer are between two and three weeks long and although we have projects running all year round, most take place between the months of June and September. We also have longer term projects (1-12 months long) available.
Our volunteering opportunities bring together young people from a variety of countries to spend their time and energies working for the benefit of a local community while at the same time learning from and sharing with one another. Participants in our volunteering programmes normally pay the cost of their travel, an administration fee of £210 plus associated costs (visas, insurances, etc).
We also co-ordinate a range of international volunteering in Wales; supporting local organisations to host young people (18+) from other countries for anything from two weeks to one year.
Why volunteer with UNA Exchange?
â€¢ We provide meaningful projects with local organisations: volunteers always work in partnership with local communities;
â€¢ We are a youth development organisation and place a great emphasis on the benefits and outcomes that can be gained;
â€¢ We work in partnership with organisations across Wales and across the world, volunteers come into and go out of Wales;
â€¢ We are a charity, not a profit-making company;
â€¢ We provide encouragement, support and opportunities for young people to go further with their volunteering.
The international partners that we work with to set up and co-ordinate the projects are long standing and trusted partners who also have many years experience of working with young people and supporting wider participation. We regularly meet with our international partners to discuss best practice, health and safety and mentoring of volunteers whilst on their project.
The Step by Step Programme
The Step by Step programme was developed in 2008 as part of our commitment to ensuring that international volunteering was made accessible to more young people in Wales. Much of the international volunteering work we support in Wales takes place in economically disadvantaged areas and it is important to us that young people from those communities have opportunities to participate in similar activities in other countries.
The international partners that we work with to set up and co-ordinate the projects are long standing and trusted partners who also have many years experience of working with young people and supporting wider participation.
UNA Exchange is able to access funding from GwirVol, Welsh Government and the Youth in Action programme which enables us to remove the financial barriers to participation that exist for many young people, and to provide extra support in preparation and follow up. This means we are able to cover all travel and insurance costs and subsidise the administration fee was normally charge – Step by Step volunteers just need to fundraise £150 (£100 in advance of participation), nothing more.
The Step by Step programme in 2013 is made up of 32 volunteering opportunities in 13 countries. Most activities are for two weeks, with four of the projects being for two months. Nearly all activities will involve our young people living and working alongside other volunteers from other countries, so they will meet and learn from their peers from around the world as well as from the host country. In most cases they will travel alone to the project (there are a few opportunities to send two people together).
Who is Step by Step programme for?
â€¢ Young people aged 18-25 living in Wales
â€¢ Young people with fewer opportunities, meeting one or more of the following criteria:
– those actually, or at risk of being, Not in Education Employment or Training
– early school leavers, with no or minimal qualifications
– those who are in vulnerable housing
– those who face health issues
â€¢ Currently involved in some form of volunteering/engagement
â€¢ Ready for the experience and open to be challenged, to discover, to encounter and deal with difficulties
â€¢ Able to attend one of the (compulsory) Pre Departure Training dates (12 June, 11 July or 6 August)
â€¢ Able to attend the (non-compulsory but valuable) Residential event (17-18 June)
â€¢ Able to fundraise £150 (a minimum of £100 before volunteering abroad)
â€¢ Preferably already with a passport (not vital as we can cover costs for some passports)‘
I’m interested; what should I do next?
For further information, please download our booklet here which will tell you what to do next.
Download an application form here.
Related Article: See The World With UNA