Barnoldswick volunteers helping to tackle social issues in Ghana and Nepal

Joshua and Charlotte sharing their experiences with Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson
Joshua and Charlotte sharing their experiences with Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson

Two young volunteers from Barnoldswick have shared their experiences working with the International Citizen Service tackling poverty and social issues in some of the poorest parts of the world.

Joshua Hartley and Charlotte Frost completed placements in Ghana and Nepal respectively through the ICS programme, which sends 18 to 25-year-olds to work in developing countries for three months and is also open to team leaders aged 23-35.

On Joshua’s placement, he lived with a host family and helped to set up a GoalBall team for young people with disabilities in the community. GoalBall is a Paralympic team sport for people with visual impairments, where two teams of three compete to score goals using a ball with bells embedded in it, on an indoor court.

Charlotte also lived with a host family in Nepal, and worked on a water and sanitation project, helping to build toilets and other infrastructure, as well as working within the community to raise awareness of health and sanitation issues.

She said: “ICS was hard, but completing it made me feel like I could take on the world. It increased my confidence and taught me more resilience. I can’t wait to be a Team Leader in Tanzania next year.”

In addition to the impact they had on the communities they worked with during their time abroad, the volunteers also described the difference that the ICS programme had made to their outlooks since their return to Pendle.

Joshua has now set up a GoalBall team in Blackburn, where both visually impaired and fully sighted people play together, giving young people locally with disabilities the opportunity to participate in a team sport.

He has also stayed in touch with those he met in Ghana and plans to return to the country next year to visit them.

Following her experience on ICS, Charlotte is planning to set up some community action projects in Barnoldswick and discussed with Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson about how he might be able to help her set them up. She is heading to Tanzania early next year to act as a team leader with ICS, and after than plans to start a Master’s degree in law.

During the meeting, the two volunteers took the opportunity to quiz their MP on his work as an International Development Minister, asking for his commitment to the UK’s efforts to tackle poverty worldwide.

Mr Stephenson said: “I enjoyed meeting my constituents Josh and Charlotte and hearing about their great experiences on the International Citizen Service programme. They can be very proud of the difference they made through their project work with some of the world’s poorest communities, and I was also particularly interested to hear how they have built on their time in ICS to make a difference to the community here in the North West. I would encourage any of my constituents aged 18-25 to apply for the scheme.”

To find out more about ICS or to apply, visit www.volunteerics.org.