Teenager’s 10-week South Africa volunteering trip

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A teenager spent his free time working with ex-criminals and ex-gang members in South Africa.

George Murray, 19, of Bexhill Road, St Leonards, visited Cape Town for 10 weeks, volunteering for a charity called ICS Skill Share International.

He said: “I decided I needed to do something to help other people so I joined ICS Skill Share International. I worked with a partner organisation called Oasis, a government-funded group.

“We worked in communities with young adults and teenagers to try and keep them busy, persuade them to go to school or get work so as not to join a gang or become a ‘gangster’.”

George, who works part-time at his parents’ business, Cafe 17 in Bexhill Road, and tReds in Priory Meadow Shopping Centre, was with other volunteers who were part of the 20/20 Community Street Soccer League programme .

This aims to give troubled youth from communities affected by unemployment, drugs and gangsterism a vision and motivation to progress through street soccer.

George, who studied a BTEC in Uniformed Services at Bexhill Road, said: “We had fellow volunteers from South Africa who were ex-criminals and ex-gang members who wanted to change their life around.

“To be part of this amazing experience I had to raise £800 and that wouldn’t have been possible without some amazing people and businesses, such as Ocean’s Eleven, the post office in Bexhill Road, Appleyard’s Butchers, Rosemarie and Fiona at the laundrette in Bexhill Road, Victoria Tyres, Extreme Tanning, my girlfriend and family and good friends, as well as everyone else who helped.

“Not only did people donate money Dean Jinks donated the Rye Football Club kit which I gave to a local football team in South Africa where I lived in on the outskirts of Cape Town.

“Team members loved their new kit. Everyone of them thanked me and were so excited to wear it.”

International Citizen Service (ICS) Skill Share International is a UK government-funded development programme designed to inspire a generation of young people to make a difference to global poverty.

The programme is for anyone aged 18 to 25.

It works in partnership with locally-based organisations in southern Africa, West Africa and India to reduce poverty, injustice and inequality.

George will be volunteering later this year in June in the USA when he heads to Camp America in Washington, DC.

For more information about the ICS scheme log onto the website www.skillshare.org/ICS.