Let’s face it, maintaining engagement with your graduates once the NCS programme has finished is a real challenge. The summer comes to an end, your young people celebrate everything they have achieved at their graduation event, and then, before you can even say ‘Extension Phase’, they have dispersed, with the majority never to be seen or heard from again.
African Adventures’ trips for NCS graduates offer providers a simple and effective way to keep their young people engaged once the programme itself has ended. Our exciting and affordable volunteering trips help your grads continue their personal development journey, expand their comfort zones, and build on the invaluable life skills gained during the NCS programme.
Here, we give you 10 reasons why an African Adventure could be the perfect opportunity for your NCS graduates…
1. Build an Extension Phase like no other
Our award-winning volunteering trips to Ghana, Kenya and Zanzibar can help you build an Extension Phase like no other, offering your young people a unique opportunity to experience what it is like to travel and volunteer in Africa. Whether you choose to offer a trip to your entire cohort of graduates, or exclusively to the young people that make up your graduate youth board, a trip to Africa could make a significant difference to your overall graduate engagement. On average, NCS providers that have travelled with us have seen 13% of their grads choose to continue the NCS journey with African Adventures, considerably boosting their graduate engagement rates. Furthermore, every NCS provider that has travelled with us is returning to travel again, with our Graduate Engagement Trips forming an integral part of their Extension Phases.
A trip to Africa could also be used as a recruitment tool for the NCS programme itself. Your trip could provide you with powerful visual content to use at assemblies, opportunity fairs, or other events where you are aiming to recruit NCS participants. Our volunteering trips for NCS graduates could therefore boost not just your graduate engagement rates, but your recruitment of young people for the NCS programme too.
2. Find the trip option to suit you
When you decide to travel with us, we work with you to find the option that fits best for you and your young people, providing two types of graduate trips to ensure that a volunteering experience in Africa is feasible for every graduate and provider.
The first trip option – our Graduate Engagement Trips – is perfect for NCS providers who are looking to accompany their graduates on a volunteering trip to Ghana, Kenya or Zanzibar. On these provider-led trips, you will travel to Africa and volunteer alongside your group of young people, sharing the experience with them as they build on the invaluable life skills developed during the NCS programme.
The second trip option – our Youth Development Programme – is ideal for NCS providers who are unable to travel with their grads, or unable to spend the time on organising the trip, but still wish to offer them the opportunity to volunteer in Africa. Led by an experienced Group Leader, your young people will step outside of their comfort zones as they travel and volunteer in Africa with other young people of a similar age from all over the UK.
Whichever option you choose, our friendly UK team will be on hand to help make organising your trip as hassle-free as possible. When you travel, you will be looked after by our experienced In-Country Trip Hosts, who will be with you through every moment of your journey.
3. Continue the NCS journey
Our graduate volunteering experiences provide the perfect way for your young people to continue their NCS journey, with three distinct phases specifically designed to build on the skills developed during the NCS programme.
The first phase of the journey is the preparation phase, which can be spread across 6-12 months according to your requirements. This phase sees your grads build on the skills developed during the Social Action phase of NCS to plan their own fundraising events in their local communities. They can choose to work individually, or with their fellow graduates, to raise the money needed for their trip – and our UK team will be on hand to support them every step of the way with advice, guidance, and resources. This phase also gives your grads time to mentally and emotionally prepare for their trip. Our online portal – My African Adventure (My AA) – contains a wealth of resources to help them do this, providing information on important topics such as their destination, their volunteer role, and the project they will be volunteering with.
The action phase sees your grads travel to Africa for their volunteering experience. Just before they depart, they will receive a reflective journal to fill in before, during, and after their trip, helping them to get the most out of the journey. At our partner schools, they will be able to choose between two roles; either assisting with teaching and running sports sessions, or supporting with crucial renovation work. Whichever role they choose, they will play a key part in our bigger mission to improve access to opportunity in education, for the children who attend our partner projects.
The final phase of the journey is the reflection phase. As they complete their trip, your grads will be encouraged to reflect on the experience and what they have learnt through taking part. On their return home, they will be invited to submit their reflective journal, and will receive a certificate confirming their completion of the Graduate Engagement Trip; a fantastic testament to your grads’ commitment to their personal development.
We have seen our NCS graduate volunteers achieve some amazing things at our partner projects in Africa. Katie Desmond from Derby is a great example of this. In 2017, Katie was chosen as Graduate of the Year by her regional delivery provider, Ingeus, which provides NCS in partnership with Derby County Community Trust. As a reward for this achievement, Katie was awarded a free place on Derby County’s 2018 volunteering trip to Kenya and she elected to fundraise some money to support her volunteering work at Jubilee Academy in Nakuru. Katie managed to raise a fantastic £1,600, which was used to renovate the school’s library by painting the walls, constructing a secure door and windows, and donating fiction books and textbooks. The new library will be used and enjoyed by 200 students at the school.
Reflecting on her experience, Katie said: “It was just so amazing. I have always wanted to be involved in a community project and going to Africa was just a dream come true for me. The people were amazing and so appreciative of everything we were trying to do.” You can read more about Katie’s volunteering experience on the Ingeus website.
4. Tangible benefits for your graduates
Our graduate volunteering trips carry real benefits for your young people, helping you to demonstrate your commitment to personal development in your Extension Phase. Our trips can equip your grads with the skills they need to successfully transition into adult life, as seen by the recent experience of two grads, Mark and Isla, from Shrewsbury Town in the Community. In October 2018, Mark and Isla joined 23 other graduates from Shrewsbury Town to spend 10 days volunteering at our partner projects in rural Ghana.
Following their trip, Mark was offered a paid position as a Disability Officer with Shrewsbury Town, and he is now responsible for planning and delivering Shrewsbury’s disability projects. He is also studying for a Foundation Degree in Community Football Coaching and Development.
Mark credits the skills he developed during his trip to Ghana as the reason why he was offered the position of Disability Officer by Shrewsbury:
“Teaching in Ghana has definitely increased my confidence, which has helped me feel comfortable leading sessions as a Disability Officer. This experience has also helped my professional development, as my communication and leadership skills have improved a lot. I learnt how to manage my time effectively, as I had to balance volunteering with completing assignments for my Foundation Degree. My time management skills were actually cited by my employer as one of the key reasons why they wanted to offer me the job.”
Isla also travelled to Ghana with Shrewsbury, and feels that she gained a lot from the experience:
“Volunteering has really opened my eyes to how education systems differ around the world. The students in Ghana taught me to enjoy my education, take every opportunity offered to me, and not be afraid to try new things. This trip has given me the confidence to continue to travel the world, experience new things and meet new people.”
Isla has used her new-found confidence to take on further opportunities, such as participating in Camp America and applying for university.
5. Feasible for all young people
In keeping with the ethos that underpins the NCS programme, we think all young people should have access to the same opportunities. That’s why we encourage all our youth volunteers to fundraise, and why we provide comprehensive fundraising support, to help ensure that a trip to Africa is feasible for all NCS graduates. In 2018, an impressive 41% of our youth volunteers fundraised 75% or more of their trip costs, demonstrating that with a healthy dose of enthusiasm and the right commitment, your grads can meet their fundraising targets.
As volunteers, your young people will have access to our online portal, My AA, which contains a wealth of resources to help make their fundraising more manageable. Here, they can download our fundraising guide – containing detailed instructions on how to organise a variety of fundraising events – as well as sponsorship letters, promotional images, bucket wraps, and much more, to help them get their fundraising started. Our partnerships with easyfundraising and Fund My Travel enable your grads to easily raise money online, and our friendly UK team will be on hand via phone and email to support them, should they need it.
We have seen many of our volunteers successfully fundraise for their trips, meeting and even exceeding their targets. Read on for four examples of how NCS graduates from Shrewsbury Town in the Community fundraised for their trip to Ghana:
- Molly completed a sponsored silence to raise funds for her trip, promising to remain silent for a whole day in return for donations. She also took the opportunity to have a spring clean, and auctioned off any unwanted belongings on eBay, with all proceeds from the sales going towards her trip. After her trip, she wrote a blog about her experience in Ghana.
- Morgan approached the Community Champion at her local supermarket and asked if she could spend the weekend bag packing to top up her funds. Armed with donation buckets, her African Adventures t-shirt, and a friendly smile, Morgan spent two days assisting customers with packing their bags at the checkout, in return for donations towards her trip to Ghana.
- Scott took part in a sponsored run to fundraise for his trip, pounding the pavements in return for donations. Thanks to the support of his friends and family, he managed to raise an amazing £500 from just one event, making a significant difference to his overall fundraising amount.
- Dan organised a coffee morning at his home to top up his fundraising. He provided tea and coffee, and he made cakes himself rather than buying them, in order to keep costs low. He invited friends and family, asking them for a small donation towards his trip costs in return for a hot drink and a delicious treat!
Our fundraising support page has lots of information and we also have a whole section of My AA dedicated just to fundraising you trip costs.
6. Hassle-free organisation
When you travel with us, we make the whole experience as easy to organise as possible. When you book your trip, you will be assigned a dedicated and experienced Group Manager who will provide a friendly and professional service from the launch of your trip right up until your safe return to the UK. They will be on hand to take care of your trip admin, answer any questions you may have, and provide fundraising support. Our Group Managers have all travelled and volunteered in Africa themselves, and are therefore well placed to support you in the run-up to your trip.
You will have access to our online portal, My AA, which contains everything you and your young people need for the exciting journey ahead. Here, you can access fundraising advice, visa application support, lesson plans, teaching resources, and information on your host destination and partner project. My AA provides you with one centralised and easy-to-access location from which you can view your grads’ trip preparations and fundraising progress in the months before your group departs, reducing the reliance on you in terms of paperwork. Our online portal also provides a chat forum for your group to share fundraising ideas, as well as an easy way for your group to make payments for their trip online.
Finally, our trip packages are excellent value for money and contain everything you need for the experience. Before you travel, you’ll receive comprehensive support from your UK-based Group Manager, who will deliver your launch presentation to get your trip started, and your pre-departure meeting to answer any last questions before you travel. Our trip packages include return flights, in-country transfers, accommodation, meals, and comprehensive insurance as standard, and all volunteers will also receive an African Adventures t-shirt and Water-to-Go filter bottle. Your Group Manager will take care of your trip admin, arranging flights, accommodation, transfers and project work for your group. Best of all, for every 10 graduates, we provide a staff place completely free of charge!
You can find all the details of what your trip package includes on the Youth Development Programme page.
7. Beyond volunteering
In addition to volunteering at our partner projects, we understand that you want your young people to experience as much of Africa as possible during their trip. That’s why we offer a range of adventure activities which you can add to your trip package, giving your grads a well-earned break from volunteering and enabling them to explore everything that their host destination has to offer.
From adrenaline-fuelled zipwire experiences in Kenya, to tropical rainforest treks in Ghana, there’s plenty to choose from. Your grads could search for wildlife over the vast plains of Kenya, learn about the dark history of the slave trade at Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, or snorkel with vibrant tropical fish though the turquoise waters of Zanzibar. Alternatively, they could spend time with the Maasai Mara in Lake Nakuru National Park, or stay the night at a tranquil beach resort in Ghana’s Keta Lagoon. Whatever you choose, our adventure activities will help your graduates to explore the fascinating culture, varied history, spectacular landscapes, and breathtaking wildlife of your host destination.
8. Don’t just take our word for it!
We welcome all feedback from our youth volunteers, as it helps us to improve our trips and the service that we offer you and your NCS graduates. But don’t just take our word for it! In a recent survey of our youth volunteers:
97% of respondents felt that their trip has enabled them to develop skills that they will take with them into later life
96% of respondents felt that they had grown in terms of personal development.
98% of respondents felt that their experience had given them a better insight into a different culture, and the wider world
91% of respondents stated that their trip has made them more motivated as an individual
91% of respondents said their trip has given them the confidence to try new things
98% of respondents said they would recommend the experience to other young people
9. Your grads can help us create a better future
Since 2018, African Adventures has been a signatory to the United Nations’ Global Compact, which commits us to driving 14 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), aimed at creating a better and more sustainable future for people, planet and prosperity. Your grads can help us to advance these goals through an enriching volunteering experience in Africa. Read on for three examples of how they can be part of the global movement to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals:
The first Sustainable Development Goal aims to end poverty in all its forms by 2030. We partner with local schools in the areas where we work, because we believe that education is the key to alleviating poverty. With our trips, your young people will provide support in the classroom, helping to tackle the issues of overcrowding and understaffing faced by many of our partner projects. In the process, they will be helping to alleviate poverty by ensuring that the children who attend our partner projects have access to a quality education, leading to opportunities for further education and employment in later life.
Similarly, Sustainable Development Goal Four is Quality Education for All. As a volunteer, your grads could assist with crucial renovations to the school buildings at our partner projects, helping to create an environment that is conducive to learning. Many of our partner projects are severely underfunded, and the buildings themselves are in a state of disrepair. Our volunteers have contributed to this goal by constructing and renovating classrooms, toilet blocks, kitchens, and libraries, helping to create a learning environment that is safe, bright, and engaging.
Finally, your grads can help us to advance Sustainable Development Goal 10 of Reduced Inequalities. Whether they choose to assist with teaching and running sports sessions, or support with crucial renovation work, your grads will be helping to ensure that the children at our partner projects receive a quality education, regardless of their economic circumstances, and are able to take up the opportunities for further studies and employment that education brings.
10. As if that’s not enough…
Still not convinced that a trip to Africa is the perfect grad opportunity for your young people? Read on for a small selection of testimonials from Shrewsbury and Hartlepool’s NCS graduates and staff:
“Our trip to Kenya was completely unforgettable and eye-opening. It has been a life-changing experience, and one that will stay with me forever.” Will – NCS Graduate, Hartlepool United Community Sports Foundation
“This trip is an amazing initiative that goes hand-in-hand with what I’m trying to achieve through the NCS programme, and with my graduates.” Calvin – NCS Coordinator, Shrewsbury Town in the Community
“A life-changing opportunity that can’t be compared to anything else.” Morgan – NCS Graduate, Shrewsbury Town in the Community
“This trip has taught me not to obsess over the small things and to appreciate the bigger picture. From my time in Ghana, I have learnt to value people and relationships over anything else.” Molly – NCS Graduate, Shrewsbury Town in the Community
“A great experience, everyone should do this at least once in their lifetime.” Ceri – NCS Staff, Shrewsbury Town in the Community
“A real eye-opening experience, and one that I would happily do again!” Louis – NCS Graduate, Hartlepool United Community Sports Foundation
“Please keep advertising these trips because they truly open your eyes … I believe this trip has helped me grow as a person and learn about myself…it was unforgettable, so thank you, and please keep making a difference to the lives of ordinary volunteers like me.” Dan – NCS Graduate, Shrewsbury Town in the Community
Get in touch today to find out more about African Adventures’ award-winning Graduate Engagement Trips to Ghana, Kenya, and Zanzibar. Whether you are looking to accompany your grads to Africa or not, we have a trip to suit you. Click below to get started.