It's a family affair: meet the father and son volunteering with VSO
When long term VSO volunteer Matt Evans, now 57, met a group of VSO ICS youth volunteers while on placement in Cambodia, he knew his now 24-year-old son, Jack, would be perfect for the role. After signing him up, the father and son duo were able to share volunteering experiences from different sides of the world.
"I chose to work with VSO because I believe that its style of volunteering is the best way of helping poor communities out of poverty," said Matt.
"The UK Government-funded ICS programme enables young people to play a huge part in this.
"VSO offered me the chance to volunteer as a business advisor in Cambodia, working with communities along the Mekong River.
"While I was there I met a group of VSO ICS volunteers working on a project nearby and it occurred to me that my son, Jack, could get involved with the scheme. He’d never done anything like it before, so it was a great opportunity for him."
I didn’t have any concerns about my son Jack volunteering abroad. Having worked with VSO and having witnessed their support network, I knew I didn’t need to worry.
"I knew from my own experience that you have to go into your placement with your eyes open, be very adaptable and be prepared to immerse yourself. If you go into it like this it’s all the more beneficial and rewarding.
"I think Jack’s more confident in himself after ICS, and better at handling problems. I know that he faced obstacles in his placement, but he had the courage to take the lead on things and solve those problems.
"ICS is such a worthwhile thing to do, if you’re thinking about applying I’d say go for it!"
"When my dad was on his VSO placement in Cambodia, he emailed me and my sister to tell us about ICS because he’d met some VSO ICS volunteers. I was just finishing university, so I applied," said Jack.
"Because dad started his placement a year before me, he was able to give me some good advice. He told me that I shouldn’t expect to get things done immediately and that development work requires lots of patience, so that wasn’t a surprise for me the way it was for some of the others.
"When we got to Malawi we bonded really quickly as a team, but about a month in we had a few down days where people kind of lost their enthusiasm.
"When I spoke to my dad about it, he said all the ICS teams he’d worked with experienced the same thing. It was reassuring to hear that, and we got out of it in a couple of days.
ICS has definitely made me think about volunteering in the future.
"At the moment I’m working as an assistant in a care home, and as a health care assistant in a hospital. In the future I want to be a paramedic so it’s good preparation, but before I settle down into a career I want to teach English abroad and do some more volunteering overseas.
“If you’re thinking about applying for ICS, I’d say just do it – what have you got to lose?”
This blog was written during 2015 while father and son volunteers Matt and Jack Evans were volunteering on VSO's professional and youth programmes.
Volunteer with ICS
Do you know someone aged 18 -25 who would make a good ICS youth volunteer?
Click here to find out more information about VSO ICS.