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Global Xchange Volunteers In Caithness

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 Efforts of young ‘Local Heroes’ celebrated at Scottish Parliament reception
Young people living in Caithness attended a reception at the Scottish Parliament being held in celebration of their collective commitment to working for positive change both within their community and internationally. Over 75 young people, who are currently involved in a variety of British Council Scotland initiatives which promote citizenship on a local, national and international level, joined MSPs at the reception to inform them of their work, share their experiences and celebrate their successes with their peers. Amongst those attending were 18 volunteers from the Caithness area who are taking part in Global Xchange – an international volunteering initiative, run in partnership with VSO, which has seen young Bangladeshis and their Scottish counterparts living and volunteering in Caithness over the past three months. Jamie Stone MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, said: “The efforts of these young people in fostering positive links both locally and globally are remarkable.   Initiatives such as these, which help people engage with their counterparts to promote better intercultural understanding and positive social change should be celebrated, and I’m delighted to help recognise their achievements as they continue their good work.” Roy Cross, Director, British Council Scotland, said: “We’re delighted to be bringing together such a diverse group of active and influential young people. "They have demonstrated their impact to global citizenship through their commitment to our programmes and we are proud to be celebrating their achievements at the Scottish Parliament.” Further information on British Council Scotland and Active Global Citizenship is available online at www.britishcouncil.org/scotland

8 November 08
Wick Youth Club Ceilidh With Global Xchange Volunteers

Recently, members of the Wick Youth Club organised a Ceilidh for the 18 Global Exchange team who are staying in the north. Aged between 18 and 27 the team, who are from all over the UK and Bangladesh, are living with host families in the county whilst volunteering with the following organisations: Home Aid, Wellington Enterprises, Wick Youth Club, Pultney Town People's Project, The Ormlie Centre, Haven, Horizons, Wick Family Centre, Stepping Stones, Keiss Primary School, Pulteneytown Academy and the Highland Rangers. They have also helped out with various other community projects since August and will be here until December.

25 October 08
Hello Caithness!
Following on from last years successful Caithness/Malawi Global Xchange programme, myself and seventeen other enthusiastic young people recently arrived in Caithness to begin a new volunteering exchange programme, which this year is between Caithness and Chittagong in Bangladesh.

Aged between 18 and 27 the team, who are from all over the UK and Bangladesh, are living with host families in the county whilst volunteering with the following organisations: Home Aid, Wellington Enterprises, Wick Youth Club, Pultney Town People’s Project, The Ormlie Centre, Haven, Horizons, Wick Family Centre, Stepping Stones, Keiss Primary School, Pultney Town Academy and the Highland Rangers

Alongside out work placements we will participate in and help with, other community projects. A few weeks ago the team began regenerating the derelict ground outside the Boys Brigade Hall in Wick. Working alongside Boys’ Brigade Leader Marc Macdonald and after several tough weekends of digging, shovelling, building and planting; we transformed the site into a garden and picnic area for the Boys’ Brigade to enjoy.

Over the coming weeks we will hold numerous Community Action Days whereby we will work on similar projects to the Boys’ Brigade Garden, which are aimed at benefiting the local community.

This year’s Global Xchange team are eager to get involved in local activities and experience as much of Caithness as possible in the time we will spend here. Recent activities have included Salsa classes in Wick, traditional music nights in Thurso, a church concert and Harvest Festival in Watten and a very long walk around Dunnet Head with the Caithness Waybaggers. It is the Bangladeshis first time in the UK so it is a particularly exciting time for them. They are also hoping to share their culture with the residents of Caithness and so in November we will hold a Community Day and locals will be invited to sample aspects of Bangladeshi culture.

We hope that before we depart for Bangladesh in December we will have had a positive and lasting impact on Caithness. Each week a member of the team will update you on our work and experiences in the community.

We are also keen for members of the community to contact us with suggestions for Community Action Days. Please call us on 07880715955; we look forward to hearing from you!

5 October 08
Host Homes Still Wanted
Six volunteers are still looking for accommodation in Caithness. Could you offer a room from 2 weeks to 2 months (until the 1st of December) to a pair of volunteers? They are working on community projects around the county.
All Host Homes get £75 a week to cover costs. Volunteers are expected to share a room and its is a great way to learn more about another culture.
Contact 07966 761311 - Becca.thompson@vso.org.uk

What is expected of a host home?
As volunteers have 2 counterparts - one they work with and one they live with - we ask that host homes take 2 volunteers, ideally for the duration of the UK phase (just under 12 weeks). As far as possible, live-in pairs will be the same sex, and therefore need only one bedroom as they'll be expected to share.
Our real priority is finding hosts who are happy to involve volunteers in as many aspects of daily life as possible. This doesn't mean, however, that hosts should feel obligated to keep their guests entertained!
What support do host homes receive?
Each Global Xchange team has two programme supervisors, one of each nationality. They are responsible for members of the team throughout the exchange and are available to provide support to host homes whenever needed. They also have responsibility for discipline and can dismiss volunteers from the programme should the need arise. They will visit host homes regularly and should be the first point of contact in the event of any problems.
What do host homes get in return?
The current allowance for host homes is £75 per week. This is paid in instalments at a time convenient to the host household.
The allowance aims to cover the extra food, water, electricity etc the volunteers will use during their stay.
There is more information at http://www.vso.org.uk/globalxchange/hosthome.htm

17 August 08
John O’Groats to Lands End- And back again!
Global Xchange volunteer Aneirin Wenner (18) is undertaking the John O’Groats to Lands End charity trek with a difference; once he arrives he’ll be coming all the way back again!

Aneirin is taking part in the Global Xchange programme which starts in Caithness in September and he is so enthusiastic about the benefits of the VSO and British Council run project that he aims to raise £600 on the epic cycle ride with his father and brother before the exchange. After working for three months on projects in Caithness, Aneirin and the team of 18 young volunteers will travelling to Chittagong, Bangladesh in December to continue donating their time to community projects.

Project Supervisor Becca Thompson said: “Aneirin is typical of the calibre of volunteers who dedicate their time to improving the lives of others. That he is prepared to undertake this challenge of his own volition speaks volumes and reflects the dedication of him and his peers. I am sure it will be the first step towards another successful Global Xchange project in Caithness.

At present, Aneirin has nowhere to stay when he returns to Caithness, as Host Homes for the volunteers are still being sought. If anyone has a room to spare contact Becca Thompson on 07966761311 or becca.thompson@vso.org.uk to ensure the hard working volunteers have somewhere welcoming to rest after a hard day’s work.

Aneirin added “The opportunity is unique and exciting. I cannot wait to get going!” You can donate at www.justgiving.com/awenner

Global Xchange is run by VSO and the British Council and supported by BAA Communities Trust.


Global Xchange in Caithness will be bringing nine young people from Bangladesh together with nine British youngsters, to give 6000 hours of voluntary service to the local community. The young people are one of seven groups arriving in the UK this September for three months, before spending three months in their counterpart country.

This is the second time Caithness has taken part in the exchange run by VSO and the British Council, which brings together young people from the UK and Bangladesh. The previous Global Xchange in Caithness, saw young people from Malawi and the UK living and working in the borough. Global Xchange is supported by BAA Communities Trust, a charity set up by airports operator BAA, which has donated more than £600,000 towards the programme since 2004, and by the youth volunteering charity ‘v’.

Becca Thompson, Caithness Global Xchange programme supervisor, said: “We are interested in hearing from those who may have volunteer placements or friendly homes able to host international volunteers for three months. Hosts are offered a weekly allowance towards accommodation and food costs and will be supported by two project supervisors. It’s a chance to learn a little bit about Bangladesh, and take part in a successful and innovative community project.”

Becca Thompson is not a new face to Caithness, having grown up in Wick, attending Pulteneytown Academy and Wick High School. She first left Wick with fellow class mate Jessica Collins to live and work on a Kibbutz in Israel and has gone on to a career in youth work and travel, recently graduating with a MA in Contemporary Craft from the University College for the Creative Arts. She is thrilled to be given the opportunity to work in her home community by Global Xchange and knows how welcoming Caithnesians are. For more information visit http://www.vso.org.uk/globalxchange/

She is also actively seeking young people who would like to apply to take part in the exchange in the future and is able to support them through the application process. Successful applicants are expected to fundraise six hundred pounds. Global Xchange cover the cost of Training, visas, travel, medical checks, injections, accommodation and food. Currently groups are working all over the world.

The last Malawi/Caithness programme proved extremely popular among community hosts, providing the opportunity to have first hand experience of living with someone from a different culture, forming strong bonds and sharing experiences. Such were the relationships forged, that volunteers and host homes are still in contact.

If you are able to support the programme, or would like more information about Global Xchange, contact Becca.thompson@vso.org.uk. Programme supervisor on 07966761311.

8 July 07
Malawi Volunteers Return After Ten Weeks Of Voluntary Work In Caithness
Watten Church Aims To Help Them All With their Education - You Can Help

The Global Xchange team of Malawians and Scots who were with us in Caithness for ten weeks have now left for Ekwandeni in Malawi to spend ten weeks there in voluntary work projects. This will complete their Global Xchange project between the two countries.

The Scots on the team already had one culture adjustment to make while they were in Caithness, as none had been to the north of Scotland before. Now they are going to the north of Malawi where they will experience n even greater cultural shock. They will not have public transport on surfaced roads, and only an intermittent electricity and running water supply. The staple diet will be very simple, and of course the climate will be much hotter.

But they will experience a great welcome, among a very hospitable people who value their heritage from the Scottish Missionary founders of their country.

Our Malawian friends will be able to go on to college courses, thanks to the generosity of so many in Caithness who have funded them for a first year at a college of their choice in Malawi. A fund for their college education has been set up by Watten Church of Scotland, and any further donations will enable the young people to extend their study courses over the subsequent years.  Amazingly £75 can pay for education for a whole year for student in Malawi. So small amounts might be capable of changing lives dramatically for these young people who came to Caithness.

Some of these young people may then come back to work in the UK and then send enough money home to enable ten times as many young people to study and receive a professional training. That's a great strategy for the growth and development of a whole country.

6 April 07
Support For Wick Trees From Inverness To Malawi

A scheme to breathe new life into a small stand of trees at Wick Riverside Park in the heart of Wick has drawn wide support from Inverness to Malawi.

The Volunteers Plant Trees At Wick Riverside Path

The trees in question, a rather straggly although strangely architectural, collection of predominantly sycamores have featured in many photographs and pictures of the town taken from Wick Riverside for many years. Recently however, time has started to take its toll with several casualties of old age and disease having to be removed for safety reasons. This has left the postage-stamp woodland increasingly open and bare.

Trisha Sangaya
Planting Trees

Local Countryside Ranger, Lindsey Duncan and Inverness based Forestry Officer, Nick Richards, saw this scheme as a good opportunity to get the Global Xchange programme involved. The group of 9 Scots and 9 Malawian volunteers were very happy to leave behind a growing memento of their visit. Trisha Sangaya, from Malawi said: "Malawi has many forests and it is an honour to help the people of Wick by planting a tree that will hopefully flourish over the coming years."

A variety of tree species were chosen to plant-up the area including Holly, Elm and Scot's Pine which will provide a variety of shapes and colours through the year whilst also providing an improved habitat for wildlife. The improvement for wildlife and the enjoyment of the public also proved to be attractive to Scottish Natural Heritage who financially supported the project, which will include further hedge planting along the Wick riverside path.

Global Xchange is an exciting international exchange programme run in partnership by VSO, the British Council, CSV (Community Service Volunteers), and supported by the Scottish Executive. It aims to develop Scotland's already strong historical links with Malawi and bring young people together to make a valuable contribution to local communities both in Scotland and the developing world.

After completing their community work in Caithness the team will then travel to Mzuzu, Malawi to assist local community groups and organisations for three months before returning home to support their own communities with their newly developed skills.

If you are interested in getting involved with Global Xchange please contact Rohanna Law, Programme Supervisor on 07968 506 324 or rohanna.law@vso.org.uk
For more information see www.globalxchange.org.uk

28 March 07
Volunteers from Malawi Global Xchange help Wick Boys Brigade
A group of 18 volunteers, 9 from Scotland and 9 from Malawi plus a co-ordinator from each area, helped Marc Macdonald the Boys Brigade leader to transform a piece of ground surrounding the BB hall in Wick on Saturday.  Mr Macdonald was very grateful to all the local businesses that donated materials and loaned equipment to enable the work to begin. Local Development Officer of Volunteering Highland, Catherine Patterson identified projects in Caithness that the volunteers from Global Xchange could assist with. Over the next 3 months the group will be integrated into the community and will volunteer with a variety of organisations in Caithness, periodically they will come together to undertake group activities, the next one taking place on Friday with the Countryside Ranger where tree planting will go ahead at Wick riverside.  Global Xchange co-ordinator, Rohanna Law has been very pleased with the welcome and support from everyone in Caithness.