Volunteering at Action Breaks Silence
To sustain our current work and broaden our impact, we rely on the generosity of our donors, as well as our corporate supporters and partners. We look to work with partners, individuals and organisations that share our core principles of Equality, Respect and Inclusivity, also sharing our passion for reducing gender-based violence, and creating sustainable societal change.
Our Volunteer Stories
I first heard about Action Breaks Silence when I was in Year 7 and attended an Empowerment through Self-Defence Workshop. I was genuinely inspired by the work of the charity and so in my gap year I worked in the UK to deliver workshops in secondary schools and Phase 1 of the Primary School Programme in Lambeth.
In January 2022, I had the opportunity of going to Johannesburg in South Africa with Debi. On the first day, we met the team for a 5k hike followed by a delicious barbecue. We then spent a month working in Diepsloot, Soweto and Pretoria where the teams were delivering the Primary School Programme. The mornings were spent in various schools observing how the classes were being taught and then training the teams for the upcoming weeks of the programme. Everyone was so welcoming; I loved interacting with the students and the team even took me to try some local food in Pretoria.
In the afternoons, I updated the manuals with any changes that needed to be made based on the classes we had watched or feedback from the team. Overall, it was amazing to be a part of something so worthwhile and to see first-hand the impact that Action Breaks Silence has. My time in South Africa was definitely one of the highlights of my gap year and I feel so grateful to have had this opportunity. I would encourage anyone who is considering volunteering to go for it!
Volunteering for Action Breaks Silence has impacted my life in various ways, both professionally and personally. Volunteering has had a considerable impact on my confidence and ability to present complex ideas to a variety of people and cater to the individual needs of the group. I am also able to learn from other trainers and I am constantly encouraged and made more comfortable in my capabilities, this is all facilitated through the train the trainer programme.
The working environment is also very positive and supportive, the team is always there to encourage and help so everyone feels comfortable with each other. Many of the key concepts which we teach in workshops have positively influenced my personal life. For example through teaching core values and boundaries I have been able to instil these ideas in my life and have become more assertive and in control of my relationships with other people. Which further allows me to build healthy relationships with others and in being more self confident.
The working environment is also very positive and supportive, the team is always there to encourage and help so everyone feels comfortable with each other. Another positive impact from volunteering is how confident and self aware I have become. Through all the programmes I’ve learnt how to trust myself and feel so much more comfortable in knowing I can look after myself. Volunteering with the charity has also helped me learn a lot more about the issue of VAWG in today’s society and how important it is for us to tackle that.
I first heard about Action Breaks Silence in 2017 when Debi and her team brought the ‘Empowerment through Self-Defence Programme’ to my school in the UK. I was immediately draw in by the way the workshop was taught and the message behind it, and still three years later remembered being invited to get in contact with them if we wanted to volunteer. After emailing Debi directly and explaining that I was 18, just finished school and having a gap year, a few months later I was heading to Johannesburg.
Initially I was nervous about how my first experience of South Africa would go, and how I would fit in, but I was extremely welcomed by both the teams of trainers in Pretoria and Soweto. I was lucky enough to be there in the last three weeks of the 12-hour school’s programme, and visited the primary schools a few days each week to monitor how the classes were being taught and received. We would then make changes to the manual when the trainers added great input to the sessions, and would discuss any issues with Debi and the leads of each area. It was an amazing experience to be in these schools and interact with the kids, and I loved that I could actually see where the money was going and how well the students were responding to the lessons.
The other days during the week Debi and I were working on projects such as setting up fundraising pages online, applying for funds and planning the Youth Ambassador Programme. We also had one fundraising workshop with the Johannesburg Junior Council which I helped to hold the bags in, and an amazing meeting with students looking to start the Youth Ambassador Programme in their schools. I was also lucky enough to join Debi and the trainers on a team-building 10k hike on one of the weekends, which was a beautiful day spent in the African nature. I hugely enjoyed my experience in South Africa with Action Breaks Silence, and I am already planning to do more work with them as a charity and will hopefully visit again soon.
My name is Helena Gudjonsdottir and have volunteered for Action Break Silence (ABS) on a few occasions since 2014. I studied Anthropology at university and have always been passionate about people, cultures and traditions and the various injustices that can exist around these. When I found out about the charity I knew I had to contribute in some way, as the issue at the heart of their cause is so incredibly important and touches so many people’s lives globally.
I joined the ABS team in 2014 when I went with them to Mumbai, India. During that trip we taught around 3500 women and girls through the Empowerment through Self-Defence workshops. This experience was truly life-changing and I could see first-hand the empowering impact ABS has on the lives of everyone involved. Being able as a volunteer to participate in the workshops and speak to the women and girls involved was unforgettable.
I knew that I wanted to continue to be involved with ABS and this year I was fortunate enough to join them on a trip to South Africa where the new Hero Empathy Programme for boys was rolled out in schools across Soweto and Pretoria. This is a brilliant programme and we saw a lot of fantastic responses within the first classes and I am so excited to see the long-term impact it will have on the kids involved. The ABS team also taught the Empowerment through Self-Defence workshops for some amazing women and girls and once again I was touched by the stories told and reminded of the need for these workshops globally.
I have enjoyed being a volunteer with ABS and want to continue my involvement with the charity. Meeting the teams in different countries, sharing the passion and being part of something so important is something I am very thankful for and I would encourage anyone interested in supporting this charity to not hesitate and follow their gut!