AFTER ten weeks and 3000 hours of volunteering in Nigeria, 15 young people will have contributed another 3500 hours of voluntary service in Thurrock during their nine- week stay in the borough.
The young people who arrived in mid-July and hail from different parts of the UK and Nigeria are taking part in Global Xchange (GX), an international volunteering programme for 18-25 year olds. The programme is run and funded by leading international development charity, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), and the British Council, the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations.
The young people are currently making a difference in Thurrock by volunteering with a wide range of organisations such as BATIAS Independent Advocacy Service, TRUST (Thurrock Racial Unity Support Task Group) and in Thurrock Council’s service areas such as the Tenant Participation Team, Grangewaters Outdoor Education Centre, the 14-19 Youth Development Team and Youth & Connexions. To date the team has contributed 2950 hours in their volunteer placements and anticipate to give 670 more hours before the end of the programme on the 11th of September.
“It is really refreshing to see the enthusiasm and commitment these young people display and how well they have fitted in our teams”, says Lynn Thompson, the Voluntary and Community Sector Co-ordinator of the 14-19 Youth Development Team.
As well as volunteering full-time, the team also contribute many hours outside of work planning, delivering and supporting community development projects. Together they have already volunteered 364 hours during Thurrock’s two day summer festival, T-Fest, and have contributed a further 200 hours of volunteering at 3 community lunch picnics in Grays Park, Purfleet and Seabrooke Rise. The volunteers also plan to add to this through forthcoming projects with Youth at Risk and a cultural event on the 9th of September at the Culver Centre which will also act as the team’s farewell event before they travel back to their respective communities.
Iember Amah, a GX volunteer from Nigeria and member of the CAD Committee mentions, ‘our efforts have not been in vain, it’s not all about the time you give but the reason behind giving that time’.
The hours the volunteers have completed are not going unacknowledged, with V-Involved, a national youth voluntary service organisation, offering full recognition of the GX volunteers’ on-going achievements in Thurrock.
As part of the first phase of the programme between April and July the volunteers were based in Ilorin, the capital city of Kwara State in the west of Nigeria. Key highlights for the team included renovating a primary school classroom as a way to advocate for better learning environments across Ilorin; setting up a free book donation and distribution service for the community with 3 local organisations; organising a football tournament and cultural arts show for the international ‘1GOAL’ campaign for equal access to ‘Education for All’ and arranging a day of practising various crafts to encourage deprived rural communities to set up local family businesses.