Our 2015/16 volunteer group has been very busy over the first half of their time in the UK. But what does a year in the UK actually involve? And what have been the highlights so far?....
"Over time, as my voluntary service was coming, I was more and more excited about the change, new job and living in a different country.
During the seminar in Piekary, near Cracow, I had an opportunity not only to meet other volunteers, but most of all to spend a great time. All sessions were well planned with, I think, the right division between the topics connected to our departure, discussions about history and fun. I particularly remember the evening, when each group of volunteers from Poland, Germany and Ukraine had to present their countries. We could listen to Ukrainian songs, dance, try some typical for each country sweets or take part in a quiz. Especially interesting were discussions in Polish-German-Ukrainian groups on historical topics. The possibility of listening, what influence has had the history of each country and the fate of the family members of volunteers on their opinions and life, was extremely moving".
"The goal of PIP is to help adults who live with various learning disabilities, meaning problems with traditional academia or training, which may also create problems when interacting with society.
For those wishing to be more independent, improve their life skills, master certain social skills, understand social interaction, as well as improve their state of health and the general well-being of both themselves, their parents, and their caregivers, PIP offers a wide range of activities. Every day students have the opportunity to participate in unique activities that are surprising in their scope and legitimacy. To list a few, PIP offers healthy cooking classes, music or drama, yoga, multimedia, instruction for using public transportation and more.
As a result of all of these events, every day at PIP looks different. Of course there are elements, such as lunch, that will always be present, but generally every day we are focusing on something different and therefore exciting".
"At the end of November Hanul and I went the Welcome Centre for Seafarers in the port of Tilbury and helped wrapping Christmas presents for the seamen on the ships.
Members of Methodist communities all over England donated scarfs, hats and gloves which they knitted themselves for men arriving in Tilbury during Advent and Christmas time. Additionally they also donated greeting cards and toiletries. The material value might not be high, but I think that it is great that people are given the feeling that somebody cares for them, especially because those presents are often the only ones they get for Christmas. Chaplain Jörn, who comes from Lower Saxony just like me, showed us around the small and lovely house surrounded by Lorries and trailers. We learned that seafarers who just arrived in Tilbury can use the Centre as a place for prayer, guidance and conversations. Things that I mostly take for granted like sending mail, making a phone call, using the internet or buying practical things like shower gel are often only possible in those Centres for the seamen. The other members of staff there are also telling us, that people on the ships are sometimes unable to contact their families and friends via telephone or internet for several weeks and months. Visiting this place really showed me a life situation that I wasn't fully conscious of before".
"Since my first day at work I am amazed by how the whole organization works and how much there still is to be done every day. I like the atmosphere at the office and appreciate the spirit of engagement and common purpose.
I am also amazed by the Roma culture which I can observe quite closely at the moment while working with my clients. I am able to engage in a lot of different projects in my organisation. I can hold steering groups the with Roma community where we discuss their current problems and expectations towards us, local authorities and others. Volunteers can participate in art and sport projects, assisting young Roma Karate or music fans.
Even though it can sometimes be quite tiring, volunteering as a social worker helps me to discover my professional path and I think my stay in London can be very beneficial in this way. I would like to make a change, with the first small step of getting to know the dynamics and means of contributing towards a better future".