Frank Fallon, 26, is a team leader at the Prince’s Trust. Getting a taste for volunteering through the YMCA, he volunteered for the Prince’s Trust before going over to Zambia on the International Citizen Service (ICS) programme. Here’s his story:

I left school without any A Levels, and I became a labourer. After four years, I hadn’t moved up at all and I was working with friends but I wasn’t very good on the hands on stuff. We were doing 12 hour days and they ended up calling me one day and telling me not to come in. I was left with nothing to do.

I went back home to my mum’s in Welwyn Garden City and, through the YMCA, went on a Prince’s Trust programme. It was just a voluntary course but it was there to prepare me for work. While I was there I found out about the ICS programme in Zambia.

I chose to do it because I wanted to be a team leader and there were no jobs about and the ones that were about weren’t going to give me the experience I needed. It made sense for me to go out and do three months. I had always wanted to go out and visit Africa, but I knew that being a team leader for a youth agency like Restless Development would give me the experience I needed to progress.

When I was out there, I helped build a community resource centre. I also worked with local people and in-country volunteers to contribute to a wider programme on sexual and reproductive health and civil engagement.

Cross-culturally, I got an understanding of differences. Before I went, I had my own understanding and how to teach people, but there it was a completely new method. It was really amazing, just getting up and not thinking so much about yourself and thinking more about the community. You’d take a large chunk of your day out to go round and make sure that everyone knew what opportunities were lying around. To bring that back and talk was really good.

To get a job at the moment, regardless of whether you’ve got a degree or skills, it’s impossible if you’ve not got experience. Three months’ experience is massive, and you get a different understanding of what actually goes on in other places in the world, which is huge to employers nowadays.

The assets over there are community, community, community, and to get that wider understanding and take it to an employer, when the thing that scares them off is young people not having worked with different people…is great. In any job you get, you’re going to need those skills.

 

Want to get involved? Well here’s a bit of blurb from ICS:

ICS is a development programme that brings together young people aged 18-25 to fight poverty and make a difference where it is needed most. Frank was an ICS team leader, this position is open to people aged 23 and over and, along with volunteer roles, is recruiting now. ICS is It’s funded by the Department for International Development and currently works in 28 developing countries across the world.

ICS is delivered by a consortium of respected development organisations, led by VSO, working with Restless Development, International Service, Raleigh International, Tearfund and Progressio.

To get involved with any of ICS’s projects, visit www.ics-uk.org.uk