UNA Exchange and WCIA ‘join forces’ for the Future of International Volunteering

Reflecting our shared roots at Wales’ Temple of Peace, the WCIA and UNA Exchange are merging from February 2020.

Founded alongside each other in 1973 – to mark the United Nations‘ 25th, and Temple of Peace’s 35th Anniversaries – WCIA and UNA Exchange have always had a close working relationship, a strong shared heritage, and a shared commitment to international peace building – with a particular focus on inspiring future generations, of every generation.

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Why are the Organisations Merging?

UNA Exchange in summer 2016 renovated Wales’ National Garden of Peace (itself created by International Volunteers in 1988), as part of WCIA’s ‘Wales for Peace’ project.

As we approach our shared ‘half century’ in 2023, the challenges and opportunities of the world around us have evolved considerably over the last decade. The post-austerity funding environment for charities, coupled with more recent uncertainties surrounding Brexit, mean we have to think and work differently to ensure that the opportunities of international volunteering remain available to future generations.

We believe we can achieve more together, by pooling resources and energies. There are opportunities to make links between UNA Exchange’s life changing volunteering opportunities, and the WCIA’s work – for example:

As an organisation largely funded from European sources, Brexit (depending on its form) creates an extremely challenging funding environment for international volunteering. Although not easy for any charity in this sector, the WCIA has a wider base of funding sources, with greater resilience to changes in the European landscape; and there are opportunities for cross-funding between projects. There are of course challenges for WCIA’s funding in the future as well – which may affect the scale of what we can do. But WCIA are confident we will be able to continue the core work of international volunteering long into the future, and that a merged entity will safeguard UNA Exchange’s future work.

[efsbutton size=”” color_class=”” align=”left” type=”link” target=”false” title=”Story of Wales’ Temple of Peace & Health” link=”https://www.wcia.org.uk/wales-temple-of-peace-health/”]

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[efsbutton size=”” color_class=”” align=”left” type=”link” target=”false” title=”‘Robert Davies’ Memoir: 1960s Peace Volunteering” link=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/129767871@N03/albums/72157682901470082″]

The Merger Process

‘Growing Peace Stories’ was a joint UNA Exchange / WCIA heritage ‘Peace Camp’ project in Summer 2017, involving BME Women from Riverside working alongside international youth volunteers to explore intergenerational and intercultural views on peace today – whilst working together to build a community garden for future generations.

The form of the merger is that UNA Exchange will ‘close down’ as an independent charity, which is being done by the current UNA Exchange trustees. The staff will immediately transfer over to WCIA when the legalities of the merger are complete; and the WCIA are already taking on responsibility for UNA Exchange projects and programmes. Two of the current UNA Exchange trustees will join the WCIA Board in the new financial year, to ensure there is a clear voice among the WCIA trustees for UNA Exchange’s continuing work, and for international volunteering as an equal programme alongside WCIA’s other areas of work.

This won’t interrupt any of UNA Exchange’s current projects and, in the short term, things will continue largely as they are – for example, email addresses, the website and phone numbers will stay the same. From now until the end of this financial year (March 31 2020), we will be working with staff, volunteers, alumni and partners to make the transfer as smooth as possible, while also gathering ideas for the future.

A Note on Data Protection and Privacy

If UNA Exchange held any of your personal data, this has transferred across to WCIA – but we will only use this data in ways you have already agreed, for example, to communicate about UNA Exchange projects. You can read our Privacy Policy at https://www.wcia.org.uk/privacy-policy/.

Shaping the Future – Have your Say

As this transition period gets under way, we would love to speak with you – the people who have been involved in and care about the work of UNA Exchange over the years – about hopes for the future, practical ideas about how you would like to be involved, reflections on priorities. Our review will be exploring:

  1. The context of international volunteering in 2020 – challenges and opportunities.
  2. UNA Exchange’s Story and Values – what makes it unique?
  3. Our shared heritage, including feeding in to the EVS Alliance’s ‘100 years of workcamps’ project – if you have memories of workcamps, we’d love to capture them – before March!
  4. UNA Exchange’s stakeholders and volunteers, present and past: who have we lost contact with, who might like to ‘give back’ and / or be involved in the future?
  5. Project Funding and Volunteering approaches past, present and future – where do we best focus our energies for sustainability?
  6. Future Supporter Communications – who are our different audiences, and what do they want to receive / hear about?
  7. How do we make the Volunteer Journey as supportive, enriching and exciting as possible?
  8. How do we offer returned volunteers the opportunity to become ‘internationalist ambassadors’ –involving them with communities in Wales, UK and world-wide, to continue building a better world?

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Craig Owen, who has been heading up the Wales for Peace project for the last 5 years, will be in contact with key UNA Exchange contacts from late January, and would welcome inputs from all supporters if you have thoughts to share – contact craigowen@wcia.org.uk.

Join our Celebration of International Volunteering on 21 April

From the Temple Archives… UNA Wales’ quarterly bulletins from the 1950s and 60s offer rich insights into international youth volunteering activities from the 1950s-60s onwards.

From April 2020, we will start to make and communicate changes based on the feedback we’ve gathered, and the funding situation.

On Tuesday 21 April 2020, we will be holding an event at the Senedd, showcasing the work and achievements of Wales’ International Volunteers through the years; to bring people together, celebrate what UNA Exchange and WCIA have done, and explore next steps.

We would love to invite you to join in – please ‘save the date’! – and will send further information nearer the time. We will also communicate updates electronically for those who can’t come along, and via social media.

Stay in Touch

We’ll do our best to stay in touch throughout this process, but please do let us know if you think we could do more. We look forward to involving our supporters in shaping a new chapter of shared working – to advance international volunteering for future generations.

UNA Exchange Team / Enquiries: evscoordinator@unaexchange.org

Merger Review inputs: craigowen@wcia.org.uk

2 thoughts on “UNA Exchange and WCIA ‘join forces’ for the Future of International Volunteering”

  1. Roger Edwards

    I welcome the merger and understand why it is happening – a good opportunity to combine the strengths of both organisations that will result in the continued sustainability of the good work carried out.

    Good luck

  2. Petr Vavros

    My name is Petr Vavros, and I communicated with you about volunteer work in Nepal before COVID-19. I am in the USW’s last academic year of (BA) Creative and Therapeutic Art for Adults. Would you happen to know if It’s still available, please? I want to go there next year. Can you respond to me, please?

    Best Regards


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