Quaker Voluntary Action enables participation in spirit-led volunteering that makes a practical and social difference. Our projects build community and work for a more just and peaceful world.
Our programme of working retreats combine reflection and ‘time out’ with a practical contribution to a worthwhile project. Have a look at our programme of forthcoming working retreats. If you would like a QVA working retreat to come and help out your social project or Quaker meeting, find out more here!
ABOUT QVA RETREATS
Our working retreats are a way to share a short period of time with other volunteers making a difference to a local project. We also hold retreats where the main focus is encounter with places and people who are upholding concerns of global significance such as cross-community peace initiatives or environmental work. In these cases, the objectives are support, education and advocacy.
During the pandemic, QVA has developed online retreats: spaces where encounter can continue and reflections can be shared in a positive, uplifting context.
Quaker Voluntary Action: A brief history
Quaker Voluntary Action began life in 1999 in response to the decision by Britain Yearly Meeting (the national Quaker body in the UK) to bring to an end the work of Quaker International Social Projects (QISP), successor to Quaker Workcamps.
For more than 50 years, Quakers had operated short-term, international workcamps in environmental work, construction, renovation and social projects. This was to finish when the work of QISP came to an end.
Many Friends first came into contact with Quakers through volunteering on or hearing about workcamps. Volunteering on a Quaker project provided Young Friends in particular (and prospective Friends) from different countries, an opportunity to meet up, work together and develop lasting friendships and mutual support.
As the new millennium approached, some Friends decided to form a body to promote and support Quakers’ contribution in the field of volunteering. They acknowledged the value of volunteering, to individuals, to communities and also to The Religious Society of Friends itself.
In addition, they wanted to offer support to those Friends across Europe who wished to put their faith into action in response to specific community needs but where for various reasons, including perhaps a lack of financial resources or time, small or ageing meetings, or being geographically isolated, they were unable to develop Quaker volunteering initiatives independently.
2001 was the UN’s International Year of Volunteering and so it seemed the right time for Quakers to explore new ways for individuals to offer voluntary service in the 21st century. Soon afterwards, QVA was born!
Project and initiatives
Since its formation QVA has been involved in a variety of projects and initiatives:
- workcamps in the UK and Ireland
- support for a succession of volunteers at the New Barracks project in Salford, UK
- researching and piloting the Agents for Change Project
- organising a “plant a tree” campaign for the Tent of Nations project in Palestine
- recruiting volunteers to work on a reconstruction project in Sri Lanka after the tsunami
- finding volunteer opportunities for individuals
- developing the concept of ‘Working Retreats’ and continuing this programme to the present day
- creating ‘online’ retreats during the Covid-19 pandemic to enable continued connection between Friends and areas of social concern