A YOUNG Warminster man, who recently spent 11 weeks volunteering in

Nepal, is now using the skills he developed overseas to help out in the UK.

Jonathan Tinsley, 23, travelled to Nepal with international development organisation Voluntary Service Overseas, as part of the UK government-funded International Citizen Service (ICS) programme.

He worked alongside young volunteers from

Nepal and the UK on a

sustainable development project.

Mr Tinsley also lived with a local host family, so that he was fully immersed into the community and could gain a better understanding of the challenges people there face.

He said: “It was clear from talking to young Nepalese people that mental health has a significant amount of stigma attached to it in Nepal.

“We decided to focus our mental health workshop on young members of the community we were staying in, as they were more open to talking about mental health than older community members.

“It was a great success, and hopefully starting this conversation will lead to a better understanding of mental health in Nepal.

“I had an unforgettable experience in Nepal. I grew significantly, both on a personal and professional level.

“My biggest achievement was the work I did in organising and carrying out our Community Action Day. I provided the idea that the best way to educate people on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) was to hold a day festival on a local football field.

“The festival included DRR and WaSH-related games, such as a hand wash tables, where locals could win a prize in return for correctly washing their hands according to the WaSH guidelines.

“There were also several dramatical and musical performances from the local school we worked with which were themed upon DRR, and were very popular. The day went incredibly well, and we managed to attract over 300 people to the event.”

ICS allows young people aged 18-25 to contribute to sustainable development projects in Africa and Asia. Jonathan is now using the skills he developed overseas to carry out an ‘Action At Home’ project in the UK.

The ‘Action at Home’ project is a key part of the ICS programme, and means that UK communities benefit directly from the experiences of ICS volunteers.

Mr Tinsley said: “My Action at Home focused on campaigning to oppose proposed government cuts to youth services in the UK.

“As someone who was in social care for much of my childhood, I have first-hand experience of how vital these services are to young people from challenging backgrounds.”

“ICS enables young people to work within a diverse team of people from all walks of life. In our increasingly globalised world, it is vital that young people learn to overcome differences in cultures, values and thinking in order to work together to achieve a positive outcome. ICS gives young people the platform to do this, by enabling them to engage in grassroots development projects. “

ICS is funded by UK aid, so young people don’t need cash, qualifications or work experience to take part, just the desire to make a difference to the lives of some of the world’s poorest communities.

Before he left for Nepal, Jonathan raised £830 for VSO, which will ensure that communities in developing countries can continue to benefit from the work of volunteers.

Felicity Morgan, Director of ICS, said: “It’s really inspiring to hear about the fantastic work Jonathan is doing.

“We’re incredibly proud that UK aid is supporting young Brits to bring about positive change in some of the world’s poorest communities.

“As an organisation working on the frontline against poverty, VSO sees how people across Britain play an important role in delivering UK aid.

“From the NHS and Army helping end the Ebola crisis, to the millions who generously donate, and the contribution we all make through taxes, together we are all making the world a fairer, safer place.”