Expand your horizons by volunteering abroad

Funded places available through Foundation for the Future

If you’ve ever fancied volunteering overseas and helping disadvantaged communities, then read on. Last year we launched our Foundation for the Future programme together with a number of partner organisations. The scheme gives people living in Greater Manchester the opportunity to learn new skills and experience other cultures close-up, and we want more of our tenants to take part and benefit.

While there are lots of international volunteering programmes out there, most of them want a large up-front fee. In contrast, Foundation for the Future offers free, all expenses-paid trips, in a drive to help boost the skills and employability of local people.

In 2018, 20-year-old Jamie Moore took part in an experience abroad through Erasmus+ and trips just like his are now offered through the Foundation for the Future programme.

“An experience I’ll never forget”

Jamie had just started a digital marketing apprenticeship with Bolton at Home when an opportunity came up to travel to Romania. After spending two weeks helping local villagers recover from a devastating flood, Jamie came home with a different perspective on life.

“I wasn’t sure about going at first but I’m so glad I did,” says Jamie. “Building new friendships, learning different trades and helping people in genuine need all made for an amazing experience.”

Jamie was part of a group of 14 volunteers (including four other Bolton at Home employees) that helped a small Roma community living on the outskirts of Brasov. The visit, in July 2018, was funded by Erasmus+, an organisation which provides work and volunteering opportunities abroad.

Jamie goes on: “Our project was organised by FAST Romania, a charity that supports disadvantaged communities in Romania. We were tasked with helping to build foundations for a new home in a village called Zizin, after a flood left many families with nothing. Our group worked alongside a team of 10 local people, keen to help the villagers get back on their feet.

“I did things I’d never done before – such as building foundations, laying cement and constructing wooden braces. Like most of my fellow volunteers, this was not my usual work environment. But regardless of experience or background, the two weeks gave each of us countless opportunities to pick up new skills and reveal hidden talents, all while experiencing a piece of Roma culture.

“It was challenging work but the smiles on the faces of the villagers made it all worthwhile. Each morning, when we pulled up in the van, they were waiting to greet us. I felt like a celebrity!”

As part of the trip, Jamie also got the chance to work in a nearby school. He helped out by preparing food for the children and supporting them with their learning – despite not knowing the language.

“This part of the experience really stuck with me,” says Jamie. “The school wasn’t able to support all of the local children so it was a case of first come first served. There would be children knocking on the windows only to be told to come back the next day. The teacher explained that, as well as wanting to learn, the local children valued play and interaction with each other. Those turned away might have had to spend the whole day on their own while their parents worked.

“I did come home thinking how lucky I was to live in the UK. Our education system, good-quality services and infrastructure give us a good start in life. It’s something I’d taken for granted. For that, my trip to Romania is an experience I’ll never forget.”

Having been a EuroApprentice Ambassador for Erasmus+, which involves promoting the programme across Europe, Jamie now helps to promote Foundation for the Future to members of the community.

Become a volunteer abroad

The Foundation for the Future programme offers experiences like Jamie’s. Currently, there are opportunities to go to Solvenia, Hungary and Romania. All trips are run by experienced charities abroad, with the safety and enjoyment of volunteers being a priority. To find out more go to boltonathome.org.uk/volunteer-in-europe

If you have a story to share, please email news@boltonathome.org.uk