Hello and welcome to the first Cricket Without Boundaries blog. I’m Dave Terrace and I currently look after the volunteer recruitment, monitoring and evaluation and social media for CWB. Having been involved with CWB for five years now, I have seen an exciting charity grow and evolve. I hope this blog will help us to grow further by providing a new platform for us to engage and learn. We also hope that it is interesting enough for you as the reader to keep coming back every week. This week we start with the very core of CWB – volunteering.
CWB is an organisation that is heavily reliant on volunteers. Aside from a few days a week of paid resource, we are run wholly by volunteers. Our key deliverable as a charity, the two week projects in Africa, are completely volunteer lead. There are clear benefits to the teachers, coaches, ambassadors and children that the volunteers we send over interact with; but should we be making more of the benefits for our volunteers?
As we are in the midst of a volunteer recruitment push we do a lot of thinking about how we can attract more fantastic people to volunteer with us. Our social media feeds at this time are generally filled with images of our beneficiaries: smiling children, glowing ambassadors and enthused teachers. This is, of course, how it should be, they are the stars of the show and we would not be in existence without them. However over the years I have been involved in the charity, it has struck me how we are hesitant to talk about the benefits for our volunteers.
It is perhaps not particularly ‘sexy’ to talk about how it helps people from the relatively affluent UK, when compared to the absolute poverty we see on projects. Or perhaps, there is a belief that we shouldn’t need to talk about the benefits for the UK volunteer as the cause is so emotive. However, based on my experience, the benefit for me as a volunteer has been immeasurable and it has certainly developed me as a person.
For me, the experience of coaching children so desperate to learn, the experience of talking about incredibly sensitive and emotive topics and the experience of being part of a group of strangers in unfamiliar surroundings doing unfamiliar things, are experiences that I would never have been able to replicate in the UK and has made me a better person today
You don’t have to just take my word for it – a quick glance through some of the Featured Volunteer profiles is full of learning and personal development for project volunteers. The best example, perhaps, is that of Tracey Davies– a former Cricket Development Manager – who completely retrained as a HIV/AIDS nurse. The trips have changed her life (hopefully for the better) reinforcing the notion that the benefits do not just flow one way.
The question for me going forward is, how do we communicate the benefits to the UK volunteers effectively? Please leave your thoughts and comments in the discussion section below.
You can follow Dave on twitter at @dave_terrace.