As the current intern at Lattitude Global Volunteering HQ I love having the opportunity to visit international volunteers working at their UK placements – especially as it means a day out of the office!
I recently visited Lattitude volunteers at Blackwell Adventure, Bromsgrove, to get an idea of what it’s like to volunteer at a UK Outdoor Activity Centre. There are currently 10 Lattitude volunteers all the way from Australia, Canada and New Zealand that are working at Blackwell Adventure.
Placement visits are a chance for Lattitude staff to meet volunteers at their placement and chat to them about how they’re getting on and if there is anything extra Lattitude can do to support them and further enhance their gap year experience. From sitting-in on interviews with the Lattitude staff, and from chatting to volunteers myself, it soon became apparent that all of the volunteers are having an absolute blast at Blackwell and are really happy with their placement!
The Blackwell volunteers are trained to instruct on a range of fun adventure activities (such as Rock Climbing, Tree Trek, Abseiling and Zip Wire) which they teach to groups of children and sometimes adults. The group love working with UK kids, who are often very confident and cheeky! Lattitude volunteer Seamus from New Zealand commented about his experience as an Outdoor Activity Instructor, saying: “every day is different – you never know what the kids are going to come out with!”
As part of my visit the volunteers also kindly gave me a tour around their accommodation, which is a mixture of shared and single rooms all on site at Blackwell. The gappers have their own shared kitchen where they prepare all of their meals themselves – several of the boys have definitely gained new cooking skills since living in the UK! All of the gappies have now mastered UK supermarkets (apparently Poundland is a favourite amongst the group) and even use online shopping to have their groceries delivered to their front door!
Working and living together means that the group have all become really good friends. The volunteers informed me that they spend a lot of their free time together, whether it’s on a night-out in nearby Birmingham, a trip to Cadbury’s Chocolate Factory, weekends in London or on their numerous holidays to nearby European destinations such as Greece and Ireland! Just from spending an afternoon at Blackwell I could see just how close the group have become to each other, as well as to other volunteers and site staff.
I had a really fun day out of the office at Blackwell catching up with the Lattitude volunteers, seeing them in action on the equipment and hearing about what they get up to! They definitely seem to be having a great time and have clearly gained increased independence, confidence and leadership skills – not to forget their new international bunch of friends! I have to say that I came away feeling very envious of the fun experience the group were having at Blackwell and would definitely want to volunteer as an Outdoor Activity Instructor if I had the opportunity!