Vi-Ability is proud to announce that Vi-Ability Operations Manager, Jo Clay & International Volunteer, Lucy Humble have won WCVA “International Volunteer of the Year” award! Since August 2014 Vi-Abilty has expanded its UK operations to India. Thanks to a grant from Gwirvol and WCVA Vi-Ability has worked in partnership with Indian based social enterprise Silo India to provide month long volunteer placements in rural India to 18-25 year olds not in education, employment or training.
Lucy Humble, 26-year-old from Wrexham, took the opportunity to volunteer in India in February 2015. In the space of just one month, Lucy Humble converted people living in a remote Indian community into embracing sport and exercise activities, as well as recycling waste rather than littering, which is a massive problem all over the country.
Lucy explains her reason for taking up this opportunity; “personally I lacked the qualification side of things and when I moved to Wrexham to move closer to my family, I flooded the town with my CV and tried tirelessly to secure a job working with children but was unsuccessful. Even trying to volunteer in a childcare setting was hard to come by. So my motivation and belief to work with kids in Wales dropped! When Vi-Ability contacted me I was buzzing I would be able to gain experience and decide if working with kids was the role for me.”
During her month in India Lucy helped more than 70 boys aged from six to 17 years old living in a boys' orphanage build their knowledge, skills and confidence by engaging them in English lessons, creative activities and sports sessions. She also had placement schools where she supported more than 200 school children develop a passion for sport.
"From the minute Lucy arrived in India she fully immersed herself into the Indian culture, embracing every opportunity she was given, engaging with local people and spreading her infectious enthusiasm for making things happen here" said Vi-Ability Volunteer Operations Manager Jo Clay. Her work included delivering an ‘anti-plastic’ campaign to educate pupils to reduce, reuse and recycle the large volumes of plastics they use every day.
"Given the pupils had limited English and are immersed in a culture where it is acceptable to drop litter anywhere, the sessions needed to be fully interactive to capture their attention while also educating pupils. Since Lucy's departure the school pupils are still collecting and using waste plastic to create items of use - her session clearly had an impact and she will not be forgotten". Lucy now back in the UK has successfully secured both volunteering and paid work in tennis coaching, a passion she discovered during her month long placement.
“The support I had out there, particularly from Jo was so strong I had no doubts in anything. Vi-Ability and Silo India had complete belief in all of us and personally this in itself gave me the motivation and belief that I could pursue a career in sport coaching, child care or community development” added Lucy. Lucy has recently completed her level one UKCC Tennis coaching award and is now volunteering and undertaking paid work with Mold Tennis Club, Wrexham.
Former Sport Wales Senior Officer, Jo, 35, from Wrexham, spent 18 months working to develop the structure and governance of Silo India, which is now at the heart of Indian communities. As Volunteer Operations Manager Jo has supported young people from the UK to develop their leadership skills, realise their potential and have ‘the best experience’ in India while doing so. "Jo is a massive inspiration to others because she was in a very comfortable job in the UK, yet she was bold enough to take the plunge and grasp this opportunity to help people less fortunate than herself,"
Natasha, Vi-Ability project officer, added "She has provided many with the tool kit to make a big step towards achieving their goals, and instilled confidence within them that they can achieve it."
Jo is now a full time employee for Vi-Ability and is working to extend this program to as many young people as possible. "It is a huge honour and privilege to receive this award and a complete surprise to have even been nominated. It has been a life changing and amazing experience working on this project alongside such inspirational young people. I hope this award raises the profile of the work we are doing so that we can continue to provide this fantastic opportunity for more young people in Wales".