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EVS: A Tool to Embrace the Spirit of Volunteering

In the Autumn of 2010 Look East Wild Earth ran a ten day Youth in Action training course in Novosibirsk and Irkutsk, Russia. We involved organisations from four countries with a shared focus on forestry, conservation and sustainability in order to help them become European Voluntary Service experts, and allow the sharing of best practice and excellence in the volunteering sector between local and international groups.


The training course was divided into two parts over two Siberian cities. The first part took place in Novosibirsk, where we stayed in a small wooded children's summer camp explored how volunteering could be used as a resource to enable people to participate more fully in society, gain vocational skills and as an invaluable tool for organisations of all shapes and sizes. The second part of the training course, which took place on the shores of Lake Baikal in a village called Tankhoy discussed EVS in much more detail. We looked at its impact; how to develop placements; how to find new host organisations willing to offer EVS opportunities; creating ideas for EVS placements to integrate into the local community; as well as providing a forum for those organisations already active in the EVS scheme to share their experiences while also learning from the skills and knowledge of others.


As a group we explored many local examples of good practice and volunteer activity which gave a contextual understanding that underpinned the overall learning. Similarly, having speakers and question and answer sessions with local volunteers and representatives of a wider network of NGOs enabled participants to explore barriers to understanding, challenges and new ways of promoting inclusion and opening up opportunities to a wider audience. Through the training course, all participants got new contacts who now have the same high level of understanding of EVS and all that working with volunteers entails, in order to make high-quality mutually beneficial placements for young people.


The setting for the training course in the stunning landscape of Siberia enabled participants to enjoy outdoor activities, visits to Lake Baikal, widen knowledge of flora and fauna and instill a deep sense of importance to the work of all organisations involved in sustainabilty and conservation. The unique opportunity to travel by train together for a day and a half provided a shared inter-cultural experience but also enabled a process of reflection and broadening of the mind.


Look East Wild Earth - UK