What’s been happening at Lattitude in 2017?

Posted on the 22nd December 2017

2017 is almost over… and what a year it’s been! We’ve looked back over the past 12 months to reminisce on the great things that have been happening at Lattitude…


We started off our year by welcoming over 100 volunteers to the UK in January, February and March.  Lattitude orientations in London are definitely the highlight of the year as it’s a chance for all the volunteers and staff to get together to take part in workshops and team-bonding activities over the course of three days! This year we massively expanded the range of countries our volunteers come from: Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ecuador, Columbia, Brazil, USA and Canada. It’s great to have such a mixture of nationalities and cultures at our orientations, it’s definitely part of what makes the Lattitude programme such a great learning experience!

Volunteers enjoying their tour of London during orientation


As well as hosting volunteers in the UK, we also sent volunteers overseas on placements. In the first few months of the year we organised departures to Australia, Canada, Poland, Ecuador, Fiji, China, Japan, Malawi and Argentina! It was a very busy time, but all of these programmes were extremely successful – thanks to the hard work of all of the Country Managers.

March was also a very exciting month, as we welcomed our Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, to one of our UK placements: QEF Dorincourt. During her visit, Princess Anne received a tour around the Dorincourt centre where she had the opportunity to see some of the Lattitude volunteers in action working with the residents in various different parts of the facility. After the tour, HRH met with many more of the residents, Lattitude volunteers, staff and winner of this year’s Adrian Evans Award, Zoe Lewis. Zoe was presented with her award by HRH The Princess Royal in recognition of her commitment to the Zoe Development Foundation – a community development organisation in Ghana which works to support locally led initiatives.

Zoe Lewis receiving her award from HRH Princess Anne



April, May and June may seem like quieter months… but this is when all the hard work goes on “behind-the-scenes”! We are busy visiting volunteers and their hosts all around the country who are a few months into their placements. This is a great opportunity to hear all the positive stories from volunteers, as well as get lots of photos of them in their placements! Volunteer Recruitment Manager, Iain, then uses this information when visiting schools and universities promoting Lattitude. Although we understand the importance of our website and social media, we are proud of the fact that most of our volunteers still hear about Lattitude through word of mouth. We believe this is testament to the great experiences our volunteers have and their willingness to help out at career fairs and going to their old schools to do presentations.


In July, we celebrated our 25th anniversary organising placements in Ecuador. We planned a small meet-up in London to mark this occasion and it turned out to be a fantastic evening. It was attended by past Ecuador volunteers – some recent and some from many years ago, as well as current Ecuadorian volunteers in the UK and even one future volunteer going to Ecuador in February!  It was a great opportunity to chat about our shared love of the country and find out how the programme helped alumni get into their current careers.

July is also a busy month for Programme Coordinator Verity, who helps to manage our partnership with VIA – a German volunteering organisation. VIA recruit and send volunteers on our Australia, Canada, New Zealand and UK programmes and this again adds to our goal of increasing the diversity of nationalities on our projects. Verity travelled to Germany to help with their training workshops for volunteers departing in the summer. We’re excited to continue our partnership with VIA in 2018!

Verity at the VIA pre-departure training


We also had our summer departures to Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, Malawi, Ghana, Ecuador, Argentina and Canada. Some of these volunteers have just returned home for Christmas, and many are still overseas at their placements!


In October we welcomed HRH, The Princess Royal, to another UK placement: Alne Hall (a Leonard Cheshire care home). This event was to celebrate our partnership with Leonard Cheshire – over the past 10 years we have placed 56 volunteers with them. Princess Anne also presented awards to Dot Davison (a volunteer Local Rep for Lattitude) and Heather Candy (Volunteer Coordinator at Alne Hall) for their outstanding contributions to Lattitude. It was another fantastic day celebrating volunteering with our Patron, and we look forward to future events in 2018.

HRH Princess Anne meeting volunteer from Ecuador, Bibiana Vega


As well as our usual overseas projects, we were extremely excited to be working with Medway Youth Trust on a new programme in Ghana. MYT runs a yearly international trip to enable young people from the North Kent/SE London area, who wouldn’t normally be able to take part in this kind of programme, to carry out social action in a developing country.  Each young person comes from a background that may include, for example, being a Looked After Child, a Young Carer, Not in Employment Education or Training or having a Learning Difficulty or Disability. In Ghana the group participated in two projects each with one of Lattitude’s local partner organisations, ‘Football for Hope’ in Cape Coast and Abrobiano Community Youth Action in the small village of Abrobriano. The project was a great success, in terms of making a difference in the communities as well as having an impact on the young people.

Medway 2017 group


2017 Staff

We’ve had an array of amazing interns over 2017. Interns are such a great help to us as a small charity, and we are incredibly grateful of the hard work they put in to the role. Juliet Brabben finished her 6 months with us at HQ in March, and went on to intern at the Lattitude Malawi office until December. We hope that this has given her first-hand experience working in international development and we wish her the best of luck in the future! Rachel Evans started with us in March, and mainly focused on producing marketing materials for us. Following her 6 month internship, she was given a place on the CharityWorks graduate scheme and we’re pleased to hear how well she’s been getting on! Gary Marshall, a past Malawi volunteer, started a part-time internship with us in July, and has been helping us develop our new Ghana Action Project. In September we welcomed Emily De Souza who is doing the internship for her sandwich year as part of her International Development course at university. She has been focusing on programme development for our Ghana offer, and after her 6 months at HQ she will be travelling there to help our Country Manager deliver the programme, so she can get ground-level experience. We’d like to express a HUGE thankyou to these three, without them we simply wouldn’t have the resources to grow Lattitude.

As well as Interns, there have been some staff changes this year! Joanne Smithson stepped down from her role as Lattitude Chief Executive Officer, after almost 5 years in the job. Joanne had been responsible for a lot of the growth and improvements in Lattitude in recent years – such as the creation of the Alumni Association and the new-look website. Our new CEO, Greg Clark, began in September and we’re excited to see what this new Lattitude era will bring! UK Programme Manager, Helen Dicken, got married and became Helen Alaneme, and then she had her 10 year anniversary working at Lattitude so it’s been an exciting year for her! Finally, Nicola Gibba (Programme Coordinator) had her first child, Safiyah, in November and we wish her well for the rest of her maternity leave!

Lattitude UK team at their Christmas party this year


I think it’s fair to say that it’s been an amazing year for Lattitude, and we’re so excited to see what 2018 has in store for us!

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