2023 has been a big year for Raleigh International. Over the last twelve months, our organisation has relaunched and delivered Expeditions to hundreds of new young people. As 2023 draws to a close, we reflect on a year of growth for Raleigh.
2023 has been a year of change and new beginnings for Raleigh International. Since emerging from the challenges of liquidation with our relaunch in January this year, we have been on a journey of rebuilding and re-introducing Raleigh to a new generation of young adults.
We are proud that we relaunched Raleigh Expeditions back in Costa Rica, and boldly, for the first time, launched Expedition in South Africa in June. On Expeditions this year, 203 Raleigh volunteers joined projects contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, building core skills along the way in team-working, problem-solving, confidence and leadership on a Raleigh Adventure with Purpose.
Constructing for change in Costa Rica
In Costa Rica, our volunteers worked in 8 indigenous communities to support the construction of 8 new school classrooms, 1 kindergarten, 1 teachers house, and 2 event salons. This provided the necessary facilities for young people to have increased access to education, opening doors to many more opportunities. Alongside construction, 14 action days were held to raise awareness on different topics including recycling, climate change, and waste management. Over 200 hours of English classes were also accumulated. Collectively, this work benefited around 700 indigenous students.
During environmental phases, volunteers supported 9 national parks around the country in projects focused on biodiversity, repairing, painting, and reinstalling wooden signs, turtle conservation, infrastructure work, and 17km of trail maintenance to improve access within rainforested areas.
Success on our first South Africa Expedition
In South Africa’s first Expedition year, Raleigh volunteers built jungle gyms, playgrounds and a vegetable garden that serves a local school in rural Kruger. 125 children benefited from the first spinach harvest from the school vegetable garden and between 30 and 60 children now enjoy the new education facilities each day. On environment projects, over 3KM of fence line and 32 snares were removed in Kruger’s Sawong Reserve, while 3 hectares of invasive plant species were cut down to create a safer and healthier ecosystem for wildlife.
We are proud that in 2023 we put an increased focus on mental health and wellbeing on Expeditions. In August, following research on the impact of phones and screen time on youth mental health, we announced that we are getting behind the digital detox through our No Phones on Expedition policy. Our new approach promotes volunteers leaving their phones behind while on their Expedition projects, in favour of embracing adventure, team-bonding and immersing into nature. We also introduced a new Volunteer Manager role, the ‘Wellbeing Coordinator’ position, to ensure that wellbeing support would be available to volunteers.
Our Digital Detox policy has not been our only headline grabber this year. We were thrilled to add some star power to the Raleigh Community by welcoming our new Raleigh Ambassador, Rugby legend Shaunagh Brown, and we were also excited to make our Netflix debut with a royal cameo in Season 6 of Netflix’s The Crown.
Looking forward to 2024
Looking ahead to 2024, we are excited for another year of growth and adventure for a new generation of young adults. 2024 marks 40 years since the beginning of Raleigh’s journey with the launch of Operation Raleigh in 1984. As our Ruby Year, we will be marking our anniversary in a number of very special ways, including through the launch of a new UK programme for young venturers and with the introduction of a new Raleigh bursary scheme, which will support more young people to join Expedition. We can’t wait to tell you more about it in the New Year!
Thank you for supporting us this year
At the heart of Raleigh International has always been you, our people – our volunteers, alumni and our wider community of supporters. Whether you joined us on Expedition or supported us from afar, we thank you for being with us this year. We look forward to going from strength to strength with you in 2024.