Meet our lovely volunteers that are currently out in Poland supporting Global Footsteps: Davids Evans, Noushien Rad, Bernadette Packer and Iman Fadaei.
Born to a Welsh father and an English mother, David has lived in Cheltenham for 21 years. He has worked with voluntary and campaigning organisations for all of his working life, mainly with anti-war and environmental groups. At present David belongs to the World Development Movement, which is a UK organisation that campaigns for justice for the world’s poor. David also belongs to Gloucester Vale Conservation Volunteers and to Global Footsteps.
David enjoys walking in the countryside; dancing; listening to music; reading about human evolution, history, economics, and travel; and following sport including Cheltenham Town FC.
Noushien was born to an English mother and an Iranian father. After being raised in Liverpool, she moved to Cheltenham when she was 8. She studied at Plymouth University where she achieved a BSc degree in Events Management and now organizes events in various forms for many different people. It was with this knowledge that she helped organize the Grundtvig visit for Global Footsteps where they hosted guests from Poland, Slovakia and Germany on their visit to Cheltenham.
She has spent her time volunteering for Global Footsteps, Help the Aged, Égalité Absolue and has completed the Race for Life for Cancer Research.
In her spare time, Noushien enjoys sports such as netball, hockey and swimming. She also enjoys salsa dance, reading and arts and crafts.
Bernadette was born in 1961 in Carmarthen, South Wales to Irish parents. She moved to Cheltenham when her father was relocated for work, and lived there from the ages of three to eighteen. She attended Monks Croft infant and junior school and then went on to Charlton Park Convent School. After relocating a few times after her father’s death she returned back to Cheltenham and has since worked in civil service roles and care and support work. She has worked with the homeless, elderly and dementia patients, drug and alcohol addicts, and mental health patients. Her current job role is working with individuals in Gloucester and Cheltenham who have learning disabilities.
Bernadette has engaged in several voluntary roles, as a telephone support worker, working on Severn Sound radio an currently volunteers for the Cheltenham Prayer for schools network at St Thomas Mores’ primary. She also volunteers at Global Foosteps.
Her interests include alternative medicine, history and church, family history, attending church, walking, going to the cinema and the theatre, reading, poetry, nature and bird watching and criminology.
Iman went to Secondary school in Stroud, and after school he spent 6 months volunteering in the Faroe Islands and a further 6 months volunteering in Nepal. He then went on to study law at university in London before founding his company, The Positive Ideas Company Ltd, which creates social businesses that have a positive social impact.
Iman has been a volunteer for various causes all his life and remains a passionate advocate of community service of all kinds. He continues to support capacity building projects for youth aged 11-14 within South East London, by serving as a tutor of training courses for other volunteers wishing to participate in these programmes.
Beyond his volunteering work, he enjoys travelling, climbing, dancing and a top-quality flat white.
We wish them a brilliant time in Poland and look forward to stories of their adventure on their return!
A study published in August 2013 by Dr Suzanne Richards of Exeter Univerity suggests that volunteering could be good for people’s mental health, and even increase their longevity. The study also compares percentage rates of volunteering among the population: 22.5% in Europe, 36% in Australia and 27% in the USA.
Global Footsteps’ project Learning through Volunteering, sponsored by the EU Grundtvig programme, seeks to explore why people volunteer, how to encourage people from more diverse groups to volunteer, and to compare volunteering habits and experiences in the four participating countries: Poland, Germany and Slovakia and the UK.
Dr Richards says “the challenge now is to encourage people from more diverse backgrounds to take up volunteering”. Global Footsteps aspires to do just this, through its local and international volunteer programmes.
￼￼￼”Aspire not to have more but to be more” – Archbishop Romero
This year’s programme for One World Week in Cheltenham offers an opportunity to learn about Global Justice. Is there ‘more than enough’ food for everyone? Has ‘more than enough’ of our environment been trashed?
The diverse programme offers you an opportunity to explore these issues by participating in a shared lunch, film showings, talks, discussions, workshops and worship throughout the week of 19 – 27 October 2013.
The programme is sponsored jointly by Global Footsteps, Transition Town Cheltenham, World Development Movement and the United Nations Association Gloucestershire. For more information and a downloadable programme, click here.
‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ is a question I remember being asked all the time whilst growing up. When I went to visit a school in Slovakia whilst on the Grundtvig project this was something that got asked a lot and received varied answers. One girl wanted to be a cowgirl, another older girl wanted to be a nurse and another wanted to be an astronaut. The list is endless and often heart-warming.
A little bit like the reasons we heard for people volunteering their time to an organisation. Some people wanted to do something different, others wanted to make new friends, others had been asked to volunteer as part of work experience or other commitments. All of the people had one thing in common: to one degree or another they believed in the importance of their work.
Perhaps the key to getting more people to volunteer their time lies here. This very afternoon I was in Footsteps Café and I caught sight of the words on the back of our menu ‘we help people to make a difference.’
Ultimately that is the one thing that everybody wants; the kids I met wanted to make a difference in the same way as their own role models (real and fictional), and the adults we all heard about had been inspired to make a difference through hearing about their chosen organisation. Those words on the back of the menu of Footsteps Café are ultimately what our best practice guide is about: helping to improve the experiences of volunteers and helping them to make a difference. So why not drop in sometime and meet some of the people who are making a difference in our own community? And of course, try some cake
The first thing I personally found surprising about Slovakia, just seconds after getting off the plane, was the sunshine that nigh on blinded us (hardly surprising when you think about the British weather we were coming from). We had arrived in Slovakia, after leaving London a couple of hours earlier. A couple more hours train journey later and we had arrived in Cadca, the town near the polish border where we would be staying.
We were going to visit an organisation called KERIC, one of our partners in the second of a series of meetings about the Grundtvig Project – a project to improve volunteering which will culminate in 2014. The title of this project is ‘Learning through Volunteering’.
The most important thing I learnt about volunteering was at the University of Zilina, a larger town close to where we were staying. A group of us went to visit their ecological teambuilding project and took part in some example exercises – with some pretty interesting results! Whilst the overall idea might seem pretty common, and not unlike something I once went on locally, some of the observations that the team make about people and how to group them together in effective teams are something that I think could be applied anywhere – even in the running of a café.
Slovakia: Volunteering and Soup
In Slovakia it is traditional to start every meal with a bowl of soup. I think this helped us meet loads of the people in our group. It got us up and out of our seats, going to visit other tables to fill our bowls (and our stomachs). The soup was perfect after days spent doing workshops, or walking in the Slovakian countryside.
Our group went to visit a centre called KERIC which is based in the northern Kysuce region of Slovakia. KERIC is an NGO which aims to connect its region of Slovakia with Europe and the world, mainly through sending people off on a scheme called EVS and hosting EVS volunteers from other countries. They also host language and computer courses as well as winter and summer camps. Our main aim was to meet with people from KERIC, and two other partners, Ifak and Tilia, to discuss the ongoing Grundtvig project we are working on – aiming to make a guide for organisations that employ volunteers. This guide will be available in 2014 when the project ends.
When we weren’t discussing our respective projects, our hosts at KERIC organised for us to visit different NGOs in the area; which included everything from an ecological centre which hosts youth teambuilding activities, to local schools and labour offices and even a fair-trade café! This gave us a glimpse into the life of a vibrant community of people that wants to learn more about Europe and take its place in the global community.
The trip that made the biggest impression on me personally was the trip that I took with an EVS volunteer to a local primary school. Primary school in Slovakia starts at 7 years old, with the eldest students leaving at 15 for the local high school.
I felt included from the word go. The teacher who collaborates with EVS volunteers made me feel at home and included in the lesson, by standing me up in front of the class and letting them ask me questions about England. I think we covered everything that day from “do you like pizza?” to “where do you live?”! In the staff room I was included in traditional birthday celebrations and made to feel at home immediately.
In a country where volunteers and their role are still developing and are sometimes unheard of, I think that the our trip and the impact it had will stay with many people for a long time – from our own Global Footsteps volunteers, the team at KERIC who made it such an enriching experience for everyone, the people we met at local NGOs and even the two mayors that we met during our stay will have memories of the group of volunteers that came to stay, which is amazing and – in my opinion – something to be promoted.
Why not come along to our open evening on 17th May at 5-9 pm to find out more about our trip and try some Slovak food!