My name is Jack Prescott, I volunteered with United Through Sport for 5 weeks in the summer of 2014, in South Africa.
In late 2012 at University, the idea was first presented to me of International volunteering. It first grabbed my attention because I have always loved to travel and this seemed like the best way to do it whilst perhaps doing some good in the meantime. This led me to United Through Sport. This charity uses sports in impoverished communities to bring children together and uses that inclusion to improve upon their education and general prospects. They can also offer scholarships to those children who show the promise and level of drive necessary to succeed. To get all of this done, they make use of international volunteer, most of whom come from the United Kingdom.
I spent my time in South Africa building experience, when I could’ve been unemployed, sat on my backside at home watching Netflix! The diversity of the experience had been massively helpful. In the 5 and a half weeks in South Africa, I spent more time dealing with kids than at any other period in my life. I was also eager to prove that I could act calmly and professionally in a position of responsibility and relative pressure. With two separate buses heading out on projects everyday, I was recruited to make sure that everybody was looked after on one bus, that each group within that bus had the right amount of kids per session and that we were organised and on time. This was not something that was forced upon me at all, I was simply given the option to take further responsibility and I took it. I had great fun in my role as our bus’ coordinator and learnt a great deal about managing day to day activities, the people around me and bizarre situations like what to do if a herd of cows invade your session. The social aspect of the trip was a hugely positive factor too. I was placed in Port Elizabeth with 41 other volunteers in one complex and it just worked perfectly!
United Through Sport has excelled in making use of and developing volunteers. The charity now operates in Ghana, Argentina, St Lucia and now Thailand. There is an academy in Accra, Ghana, in which much of the day-to-day operations are run by former volunteers who fell in love with the place and had shown the necessary skills to be able to do the job. All coordinating staff in South Africa are all former volunteers also.
I completely and utterly loved my time in Port Elizabeth, as did the whole team of volunteers I shared the experience with. I can not recommend this experience highly enough.