STAND International started as a joint project between two Scottish homeless charities in 2003, with the aim of encouraging and facilitating homeless individuals to take up volunteering opportunities in their own communities. In 2005 this was extended to include homeless volunteers participating in short-term volunteering opportunities overseas. Projects involved renovation and construction work and providing outdoor activities for disadvataged children and orphans in a number of countries in Eastern Europe.
As a result of the projects' success STAND International was established in 2006. The acronym STAND comes from Start A New Day, denoting the idea that participating in projects allows those involved to re-evaluate the opportunities they are presented with in life and to consider a new more positive start to their involvement in and contribution to their own communities.
The work often centres on institutions such as orphanages, reformatory schools and homeless shelters, in countries including Belarus, Romania, Georgia, Ukraine and Ghana.
The volunteers work to improve the living conditions within the institutions to provide the basic resources which enable human dignity to be restored. This can involve re-provisioning of sleeping and eating areas and the creation of personal space and communal social areas.
The second part of the STAND activity programme is to provide workshops and classes which can help develop and stimulate those residents of the institutions who are able to engage with the world around them.
As volunteers have experienced significant disadvantage, teams of 12-15 volunteers are always accompanied by peer mentors who are with them for the duration of the project, providing individual support and ensuring cohesion within the group. Since some team members can experience serious self-doubt at the smallest setback, the peer mentors' role is one of encouragement, challenge and role modelling.
STAND aims to harness the volunteers' talents, their experience of social exclusion and their genuine compassion to assist others and improve the quality of life of those even less fortunate than themselves. The projects allow them to fulfil their potential, widen their horizons and enhance their employment opportunities whilst at the same time becoming more involved in an inclusive society.