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Raising awareness

While on ICS you’ll have found yourself getting passionate about causes that matter to you. It’s important that when you get home this passion doesn’t stop.

Raising awareness about international, national and local issues is so important to making change. Action at Home is a great opportunity to convert this passion into tangible actions.

Speaking at the Girls' education
Speaking at the Girls' education

What you can do

First, think about the cause you’re most passionate about. It might be something that jumps out at you straight away or something you might have to think more carefully about. It could be something that you discovered on ICS or something you’ve felt passionately about for a long time before.

If it’s gender equality, you might want to share your experience on placement. If you were working with women’s groups and feel that people back in your home community need to know what life is like in a different part of the country or world, then focus on articulating this point to them.

If you were working on a sexual reproductive health and rights programme and you feel strongly about the need for better sex education for young people, you might see those same problems in your home community. Look for opportunities to partner with other people with the same goals.

Petitions can help too. Sites like 38 Degrees and Change.org can get you started in minutes. And if you want to get noticed by lawmakers, register on the Government petitions site. If your campaign tops 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in Parliament!

Presenting and public speaking

There are plenty of organisations out there – local, national and international – that will be looking for speakers to come and talk to their members about an interesting topic.

Why not return to your secondary school or college to talk to the students about a cause that you feel strongly about? For those who are about to go away to university, they’ll soon be eligible for volunteering opportunities like ICS. Why not share your experience and explain the realities of working in international development?

Creating the global workforce of tomorrow
Speaking at the "Creating the global workforce of tomorrow" event in Salford

There will be a whole range of clubs, membership societies and community groups near you that you didn’t even know about! The more obvious options are religious centres or youth groups, but there’s a good chance you’ll have a local branch of the Rotary Club or Lions near you.

And if you’re a woman and care about improving the lives of women nationally and internationally, think about joining the global Soroptomist network.

Unfiltered’ event for International Youth Day 2017
Speaking at Restless Development’s ‘Unfiltered’ event for International Youth Day 2017

Putting on an event

From raising awareness, to fundraising, networking, mobilising or meeting other like-minded people, hosting and participating in events can have any number of aims – opening up a topic to the wider community, spreading the word about your experiences or engaging people on a one-to-one level.

The obvious option is hosting your own event. Putting on your own event can be quite an intensive process – you’ll need to think of everything from booking a space to arranging speakers – but you can get some great results whether you’re wanting to fundraise or simply share a message.

If you’re starting out, looking for an event space is probably a good place to begin. Start in your local community – ask around and check out village halls, clubs and groups and local businesses to see if they have space for hire. Try and be cheeky and see what you can get for free!

Next you’ll want to involve people with an interesting voice in your event. Perhaps your focus is international development – why not invite your MP, or find a local academic expert who might be able to talk about their specialism? What message do you want people to leave with?

Eventbrite has great 'how to' guides on how to get you started with setting up your own event to everything from advertising to maximising ticket sales.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for events going on near you, sites like Eventbrite and Meetup are a great place to start – they’ll let you search by date and location.

What are other volunteers doing?

We’ve had many volunteers return back to their own school to talk about how volunteering has improved their skills and employability – and to pass on information on ICS in case they were interested in applying. You never know, your talk may change their life!

Mahomed became blind at 16. When he applied for ICS, he didn’t know how challenging life on placement in Zambia would be. When he returned to the UK, he set out to share the message with more young people with disabilities that they can take on the challenge too.

Takyiwa has been a keen advocate for youth involvement in political spaces since heading to Kenya on her ICS placement. Last year she performed a speech called ‘Do I Tick the Box?’ calling for more meaningful action to achieve real diversity. 

Watch VSO ICS returned volunteer Takyiwa Danso's impassioned speech about achieving a diverse society we can be proud of, produced as part of Almeida Theatre's Figures of Speech project.

From organising a ‘paint the world map’ session at a secondary school to build up children’s knowledge of world geography to expelling myths about international development in a presentation to uni students – think big!