We are often asked why we welcome International Volunteers to Barnes Close. To us it is not simply a means of staffing the centre, that could be done in other ways. Our volunteers are a key aspect in staffing the centre, but the international volunteers who work alongside those from the United Kingdom do bring an extra dimension. It has a positive effect on both the life of the community and on the volunteers concerned.
The Life Of The Community
The Community for Reconciliation is an ecumenical community whose roots lie in the United Reformed Church. Indeed over the years, many of the permanent members of the team have been members of that church. But we are not limited to the United Reformed Church – our mission is both inter-denominational and international. Welcoming volunteers from other countries enables us to gain an understanding of different cultures and churches.
Volunteers have come from Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kenya, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, South Korea and Sweden.
Their church background has been Mission Covenant Church (Sweden), Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Reformed, Baptist, Waldensian, Methodist and Pentecostal. This has had a very positive effect on the shaping of the Community and on our understanding of world issues.
Benefits For The Volunteers
By welcoming international volunteers we are offering them an experience that will enrich their lives and assist them in their situation when they return home.
Whilst with us volunteers
• gain an experience of English church life,
• a taste of what it is like to live in community,
• a deepening of their faith,
• a greater awareness of world and faith issues
• an opportunity to improve their English language skills. In many cases they also get an opportunity to meet people with a different outlook on life or cultural background in a way that they never would at home.
When volunteers return home they go to a variety of work some examples being,
• language teacher,
• running a similar community to ours,
• interfaith and international co-ordinator for a diocese,
• tour guide
• youth worker