There are two sides to international volunteering projects – on one side are the volunteers taking part, and on the other the beneficiaries in the communities where the projects take place.
One of the incredible things about The Turing Scheme is that it benefits both of these aspects!
The Turing Scheme has enabled United Kingdom students to gain international and cultural experiences across the world. It has been a catalyst for growth for individuals, while contributing positively to national and international communities. The scheme empowers students to develop skills, knowledge, confidence and resilience through global opportunities that would have not been accessible to many before it was introduced.
By reducing barriers to participation, the Turing Scheme enables more volunteers to take part in international projects. This in turn allows charities, like us at Play Action International, working in the field of international development to have a higher impact and bigger outreach in the communities where we work.
We are a UK registered charity, and a Ugandan NGO, that provides mobility for UK students through ethical, sustainable and high-impact international volunteering in East Africa. The charity works with local communities to create safe and engaging play spaces for children as well as implementing a legacy of play within schools, promoting better education and social development.
International volunteering should be inclusive
After only three years of The Turing Scheme, charities such as ours are already seeing the impact in the voluntary sector that this funding is having.
In the list of most popular destinations for Higher Education participants in the Turing Scheme in 2022 to 2023 Uganda was in the top 20 – surpassing popular tourist destinations such as Thailand, South Africa, Belgium and Malaysia. A testament to Play Action International’s efforts.
International volunteering should be an inclusive activity, but the reality is that there is a cost to volunteering abroad and the Turing Scheme helps alleviate some of those costs. With the additional funding, students from all backgrounds can take part in voluntary projects.
That means that more students are improving their time-management and organisational skills; more students are developing their cultural awareness and sensitivity; more students are becoming more confident, resilient and adaptable; and, importantly, more students are seeing the world in which we live.
With Play Action International, students who have accessed Turing Scheme funding through their universities have had the opportunity to volunteer in East Africa and make a positive difference in the lives of children in Uganda.
We are the leading play-based charity working in East Africa, winning UK Charity of the Year 2022 at the National Students Fundraising Association Conference. We offer the Uganda Volunteering Project each summer, with groups of students fundraising towards and then helping build playgrounds at local community schools.
Through this experience, volunteers reported that they have gained valuable skills such as resilience, communication, teamwork, problem-solving and increased global awareness. They have also developed a greater understanding and appreciation of the challenges faced by communities in developing countries, and the role that education and play has in promoting social change.
This summer Play Action International is building 14 playgrounds – the most we have ever built in one year. This would not be possible without the volunteers, many of whom can only participate because they having Turing Scheme funding. And with 10% of each volunteer’s fundraising going towards other playgrounds that are built by us throughout the year at hospitals, refugee settlements and other schools, the Turing Scheme is helping build playgrounds all year round.
The Turing Scheme opens up opportunities to volunteer
It is of great benefit that the UK has the Turing Scheme to help students contribute to supporting organisations and communities overseas. It provides an opportunity for young people to gain valuable and transferable skills, knowledge and experience whilst making a positive impact globally.
The Turing Scheme opens up opportunities to volunteer with organisations, such as ours, that engage with communities in developing countries, addressing inequalities in areas such as education, health and social development.
The experience of working with international organisations can help to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and leadership skills, which are increasingly valued in today’s globalised and rapidly changing employment arena.
Ultimately, the Turing Scheme provides an opportunity for young volunteers to actively contribute to the values of positive change, both in their own lives and in the lives of others. For Play Action International that means more children in developing countries can enjoy their fundamental right to play, and to have a better start in life!
Find out more about higher education opportunities under the Turing Scheme.