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Monday, 11 November 2013 09:26


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YAT (or, the Youth Advisory Team) are a group of young people who have been brought together to advise the Provincial and his Council on ‘the world of the youth’. Since its creation in 2009 YAT has advised on issues such, the continued involvement of volunteers and projects which help those most in need, among other things.

Find below the reports we have given to the Provincial of the Salesians:

Salesian Vocations Report

Salesian Volunteer Involvement Report



Most Recent YAT Stories

YAT Salesian Volunteer Involvement Report



For the last few months YAT (the Youth Advisory Team) have been working on a report on Salesian volunteer involvement and continued involvement. This report follows the Vocations report which has already been published and well received.

The report is based upon surveys of Salesian volunteers, it tries to find out what things can be done to keep people involved in the Salesian network, what opportunities can help people to stay involved and increase their involvement alongside other commitments in their lives. (more…)


YAT Vocations Report



Today is Vocation Sunday in the Catholic Church. To coincide with this, we publish the Youth Advisory Team (YAT) Salesian Vocation report.

Late last year we were asked by the Provincial to try to investigate why young people aren’t entering into Religious life.  The YAT conducted an anonymous survey to explore people’s experiences and attitudes to vocation, and their suggestions for ways in which Salesian vocations could increase.

The report sums up the findings of the survey and suggestions of what action could be taken by the Province to improve the number of people entering into vocations, alongside and as a complement to what the Province is already doing.

We found there were many reasons why a person might feel apprehensive about embracing religious life, many of which were misconceptions of what entering into Religious life as a Salesian would actually mean in a day-to-day sense.

The report was presented to the Provincial, his council and the Vocations team and was very well received.

The report can be found here.


Educating Young People to Social Justice



Over 150 educators from our Salesian Schools and Retreat Centres in Great Britain took part in a Salesian Education Conference on Saturday 9th October 2010. The theme of the day was Educating Young People to Social Justice. The conference, organised by the Salesian Youth Ministry Team and facilitated by YAT (the Youth Advisory Team), took place in the Archbishop Grimshaw Catholic High School in Solihull, near Birmingham.

Teachers and senior staff from the five secondary schools run by the Salesians of Don Bosco and the one secondary school run by the Salesian Sisters were present, together with members of the youth retreat teams from Savio House and Brettargh Holt. (more…)

Monday, 11 November 2013 09:21


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The Salesians of Don Bosco care for many parishes through England and Scotland. For more information about these either see the list of Parishes with websites (where available) below, or come back soon to find out more.

st benedicts 1

Macclesfield, Bollington St Gregory’s

Glasgow, Easterhouse St Benedict’s and St Clare’s

Chertsey St Anne’s

Farnborough Our Lady of Lourdes & St Michael’sOur Lady and St Dominic’s and Our Lady Help of Christians

Battersea Sacred Heart

Cowley Our Lady Help of Christians

Most Recent Parishes Stories


St James’ 125th Birthday



On a very rainy, Sunday 3rd June, the Salesian Parish of St. James’ Bootle, celebrated 125 years of ministry within the Bootle Community. To mark the beginning of this day, Fr. Martin Coyle SDB provincial celebrated Mass in a full church. We were joined at Mass by pasted parishioners, Staff and Governors of both Savio Salesian College and All Saints Primary, pupils of the same schools and our regular, dedicated parishioners. After the thanksgiving Mass we took the short walk over to the primary school, where since 7am Sunday morning, our Youth Team had been setting up the ‘Fun Festival’. Every single young person and not so young people enjoyed the fun filled day, even though the weather was dreadful. Within the school hall there were; game stalls (e.g. role a penny, key in the door, hook a duck etc.), an arts and crafts section, a bouncy castles, an inflatable obstacle course and an inflatable climbing frame. Outside; a climbing wall, stage, a burger van and an ice cream van. Over in the church; Bingo, a VIDES UK stall, a Salesian Youth Ministry stall, a Mamma Margret’s stall and an exhibition of the history of St. James’ (which will be up until the summer) the day was a complete success, we have to say a massive thank-you to all present and all those who sent prayers our way, all were very appreciated.

Our festivities continue with a 125 Oscars evening on Saturday 16th June, tickets are still on sale NOW at a fantastic price of £10, also until the beginning of the summer the exhibition in church will remain erect.

This year is doubly special for us here in Bootle as it’s our Fifth and final year of VIDES UK’s involvement in our Parish, we would like to take this time to thank all volunteers for their hard work and time given to us these past four years.

As you can see the Salesian Parish of St. James’, Bootle is a living parish with many event happening over the course of a year, this is all down to a dedicated Salesian Community, dedicated Parishioners and dedicated young people who make St. James’ what we are. We truly do follow our motto; ‘Building the future on firm foundations’.



Parishes Meeting

Salesians working in parishes met at Hothorpe Hall from Monday 25th October to Wednesday 27th October 2010.

All the Salesians involved in Parish ministry were joined by the Provincial, Fr Martin Coyle, and Fr Bob Gardner for the three days. The first speaker this year was Mr Martin Foster, who is in the Bishops’ Liturgy Department and is working on the introduction of the new translation of the Missal. As you can imagine, his presentation gave rise to lively debate. He was able to give us examples of the new translation alongside our present version and the Latin text. He also explained the process that will lead to the introduction of the new English version of the Missal. 

Monday, 11 November 2013 09:17


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Interested in volunteering? Great!

Find out more…

What’s good about us?

  • Outstanding value – unlike ‘For Profit’ organisations, we don’t charge any placement fee.
  • Part of a worldwide movement – with BOVA, you are part of the worldwide Salesian Family.
  • Making a meaningful contribution – your contribution becomes valuable as part of an ongoing programme that really benefits communities around the world.
  • Uniquely different – We see a volunteer experience as being just the beginning … our training and support will help you really learn about poverty, good for you and good for the world!
Friday, 08 November 2013 17:24

A volunteers view

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Kat has volunteered twice with BOVA – in Bolivia and in the Philippines (read about it here).


Top Ten Reasons To Volunteer

  1. It’s such a rewarding experience, both for the people you are helping, and for yourself. It’s a great way to really get to know and experience another culture, language and way of living.
  2. It makes you realise the important things in life such as friends and family and makes you less materialistic (hopefully!).
  3. It’s a great way to make friends from a whole range of backgrounds, people who perhaps you wouldn’t normally meet or make friends with.
  4. It can give you an opportunity to have a break from the daily rush of the UK, a chance to slow down and reflect on your life.
  5. It gives you a different experience of religion, and can be very beneficial for your spiritual life, or make you more concrete in your beliefs.
  6. It can inspire you to get involved with all sorts of weird and wonderful organisations when you get home, allowing you to explore the issues that were raised when you were away.
  7. It makes you want to talk to people again and again, telling them about your experience and how people live in the developing world.
  8. You come away with so many fantastic memories and photos.
  9. We have to do something! It’s just not fair that we have so much in the West and people in other countries have so little. By volunteering overseas it is just the beginning to a long term involvement in issues surrounding development and poverty.
  10. You can pass on simple skills, such as English or simple athrimetic, helping those in developing countries.
Friday, 08 November 2013 17:16

Know before you go

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Stay safe overseas – Know Before You Go


Whether you are travelling abroad to visit friends or family, to take part in exciting sports or just to get a bit of rest and relaxation, you’re sure to want your trip to go smoothly. Although most overseas trips do go without a hitch, British travellers still can, and do, run into trouble whilst they are away.

The good news is that many of the most common problems can be prevented or made less stressful by taking a few simple precautions. So it makes sense to spend a little time getting prepared before you travel – you could save yourself a lot of worry later on.

With this in mind, we are working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to help British nationals stay safe abroad. The FCO website offers straightforward travel advice, top tips and up to date country information to help you plan your holiday.

Travel tips from the FCO

•    Make sure you have valid travel insurance, even if you’re only planning a short trip. And make sure it will cover you for wherever you’re going and whatever activities you plan to take part in while you’re there.
•    Visit your GP at least 6 weeks before you travel. They will check that your vaccinations are up to date and give you helpful health advice for your trip.
•    Read up on your destination, including local laws and customs. A good travel guide should give you this information, and it’s also worth talking to your travel agent or tour operator about possible risks.
•    Make photocopies of your passport, visas, insurance details and any other important travel documents. Take one copy with you (packed separately from your real documents) and leave another copy with a relative or friend at home.

For lots more travel advice, take a look at the FCO website.

Country by country advice

You can also find travel advice for specific countries on the FCO website. This includes areas of the country that may be risky to visit, the likelihood of terrorist activities and any health issues that you should watch out for.

The information is updated regularly, so by selecting the countries you plan to travel to on the drop-down menu, you can make sure you’re properly informed.

Don’t go to…

Sometimes there is such a high level of risk in a certain country, or part of a country, that the FCO recommends that you simply don’t travel there. You can find a list of these countries and areas on the FCO website.

Introducing your local British Consulate

You’ve probably know that British Consulate offices exist in foreign countries, to assist British nationals while they’re in the country. But do you know what they can actually do to help if you get into difficulty – and what they can’t do?

For example, your local British Consulate can:
•    issue a replacement passport if yours is lost or stolen
•    help if you are a victim of crime
•    make special arrangements if there’s a terrorism attack or a natural disaster

But they can’t:
•    get you out of prison
•    pay fines for you or put up bail
•    help you enter a country if you don’t have the correct visa

You can get all the facts about the British Consulate services on the FCO’s website.

FCO’s 12-point travel checklist

Ready to travel? Make sure you’ve done everything you can to make your travels safe with this handy 12-point checklist from the FCO’s online range.

1.    Check the FCO website to find out about your destination and your safety abroad

2.    Make sure you have full travel insurance which is up to date, valid for the entire trip and covers everyone who is travelling.

3.    If you are travelling within the European Economic Area or Switzerland, get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

4.    If you are going to live abroad, check the Department for Work and Pensions’ website ( to find out whether the UK has a social security agreement with your destination.

5.    Make sure that all your vaccinations are up to date and find out about any other suggested medical advice by visiting your healthcare provider.

6.    Fill in the contact details at the back of your passport for your next-of-kin or someone who can be contacted in an emergency.

7.    Make sure you are aware of the immigration and customs controls of the country you are travelling to, including any necessary visas.

8.    Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.

9.    Take enough money for your trip and some back-up funds, such as traveller’s cheques, cash (sterling or US dollars) or credit cards.

10.    Buy a good travel guide that includes basic information on local laws and customs. Talk to your travel agent or tour operator about possible risks.

11.    If you are planning to drive, make sure your UK driving licence is current and valid.

12.    If you are travelling in uncertain local conditions or remote areas, register with the local British Embassy.

Friday, 08 November 2013 17:15

Training weekends

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What happens on training weekends?


BOVA training usually takes place over two weekends.

The training weekends include:

-  Practicalities
-  Inter-cultural learning
-  Inclusion/Exclusion
-  Salesian Spirituality and style
-  Safeguarding
-  Expectations on volunteers and host communities
-  Perceptions of developing countries
and much more.

Training Weekends write up by Vicky and Christina

It was only a couple of months ago when we sent an email to Bosco Volunteer Action; and now we are going away to Swaziland this summer holidays for five weeks!

We are two friends studying at Edinburgh University; who were struggling to find an ethical organisation that could help us volunteer in a developing country during our summer holiday. BOVA was recommended to us by the Jesuit Missions as an organisation that could do just that! Literally jumping for joy around our flat on hearing this news, we filled in an application form, only hoping that we hadn’t left it too late.

Here’s a sneak preview of what could be in store if you do the same:

Training Weekends:

We arrived at Macclesfield train station not knowing quite what to expect, because neither of us had heard of the Salesians of Don Bosco before. We were greeted there by a smiley Father Bob, who drove us to nearby Savio House, set in the charming Cheshire countryside.

As soon as all nine volunteers had arrived, we had an evening meal together and then launched straight into a frenzy of games, led by the enthusiastic James Trewby. These were so hysterical that by the end of the evening, it felt like we had all known each other for donkeys’ years!

The two training weekends mainly consisted of group discussions and activities. These not only covered the practicalities of getting to and surviving in a country overseas, but also gave an insight into Salesian spirituality and living in a Salesian community. Most importantly, these activities enabled us to reflect about ourselves and life for people in developing countries.

What is particularly brilliant about the BOVA training weekends is that you are not lectured to about “the issues of the third world”. You are given the opportunity to think for yourself and come to realise the preconceptions you may have inadvertently accumulated, being part of a western culture. An example of this would be when we enthusiastically dove into what we thought was a simple Pictionary competition, organised by previous BOVA volunteer, Rachel Wood, to later find ourselves looking at what we had drawn, and finding it riddled with images based on stereotype. Activities such as this (as well as one or two passionately communicated presentations) set the tone for learning that was both pragmatic and relevant, as well as being great fun!

Particular highlights for us include a traditional Indian meal, where we ate on the floor, only using our right hand with no utensils allowed. This was good practice in adapting to a different culture, and highly amusing to see Father Bob repeatedly flick curry into his eye, whilst reclining like a Roman Emperor at a banquet.

It was particularly inspiring to spend time with Father Brian Jerstice, and hear about the work he has done for over twenty years in the East African Province. It made us realise that even though we are only two student volunteers, it can still make a huge difference to the lives of youngsters in host communities just to spend time with them, as this is something that many have never experienced outside a Salesian community.

There is simply not enough space available to write about the masses of information and ideas we gained from these two training weekends. However, one more thing we would like to mention is not to worry if you haven’t had any experience with a religious community before. We both come from different backgrounds from this point of view: Vicky has been educated in a Jesuit school and Christina is an agnostic. Far from causing confusion or discomfort for the latter, she thoroughly enjoyed the training weekends – there was freedom for her to explore what it meant to be a Salesian, without feeling pressured or ignorant of the experiences that were natural to those of the catholic faith.  The weekends include introductions to common forms of prayer that may be used in host communities, which is helpful for those who might not have experienced Mass and prayer before. As long as you have an open mind, and don’t mind attending some religious services and prayer, you will fit perfectly into the BOVA program.

Friday, 08 November 2013 17:13

Getting involved

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Next steps



So you’re interested in volunteering with us? Great! What’s next?


Read about some of the experiences of our previous volunteers in Volunteer Stories. If you'd like to talk about volunteering with BOVA, email the BOVA Coordinator, Fr Bob Gardner SDB 


If you'd like to apply, please download and complete the BOVA Application Form, and return it by email to Fr Bob:


Please also send a hard copy of the form, together with a covering letter, two passport photos and a £25 administration charge (cheques payable to ‘Bosco Volunteer Action’),  by post to:


Fr Bob Gardner SDB

BOVA Coordinator

Thornleigh Salesian House

Sharples Park





We will then begin the application process, which includes checking your references, a CRB check and two training weekends.


Friday, 08 November 2013 17:10

What it costs

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What it costs

An admin fee of £25 is charged for the time taken to process your application and find a Salesain community where you and your skills will fit best.

Volunteers will also cover the cost of their training (two training weekends, £100), flights, insurance and visas. The host community will provide food, lodgings and work. How much previous volunteers spent can be provided. To contact us about this please visit the getting involved tab.

All cheques should be made out to “SDB Trustees Ltd/Bosco Volunteer Action”.

Friday, 08 November 2013 17:08

A Christian Organisation

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How religious is all this?


BOVA, as all the Salesian Family, has its foundations in a joyful expression of Christian service. Placements are with host communities of priests and brothers who have given their lives to serve God in this way.

However, BOVA is happy to accept volunteers of other faiths or no faith, on the understanding that they will be respectful of the faith dimension and sensitive to the requirements of their host community. This may involve attending prayers or Mass. If you would like more information on this, or any aspect of BOVA volunteering, please contact us.


Friday, 08 November 2013 17:06

A Salesian Organisation

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The Salesians?


The Salesians of Don Bosco are an international Roman Catholic Religious Order dedicated to be signs and bearers of the love of God for young people, especially those who are disadvantaged.

The Salesian Family (made up of priests, Brothers and Sisters as well as others, such as volunteers and past pupils), attempts to continue the work of its founder, St. John Bosco, a priest who served the young and poor. Today the Salesians have projects such as schools, youth centres, homes for street children and vocational training centres around the world.

Friday, 08 November 2013 17:02

Benefits for all

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Why Volunteer?


Benefits to you:

•    Life experience of working and living in a different culture
•    An opportunity to serve
•    Personal development
•    A  ‘break’ from life in the UK
•    An experience of living with/alongside a religious community
•    A carefully planned educational process

BOVA recognises that the main beneficiary of a volunteer experience in the developing world is the volunteer themselves. We therefore attempt to enhance the educational benefit through pre-departure training, support and formation during the placement, and debrief and ongoing communication after return to the UK. We hope that the volunteer experience will act as a stimulus for continued involvement with development issues, faith in action and the Salesian family.

Read a volunteer’s view on reasons to volunteer here.

Benefits to Host Communities:

In some circumstances volunteering can be exploitative of the developing world. BOVA works hard to avoid this situation by carefully checking both volunteer and placement, attempting to match skills, interests and requirements. Volunteers are just one part of an ongoing Salesian presence, so while their contribution is valuable, the project in which they work will not suffer too much when their placement ends


Friday, 08 November 2013 17:00

Where we go

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Where do BOVA Volunteers go?

The Salesians work in over 130 countries — all around the world.

So far, BOVA volunteers have lived and worked with host communities in Bolivia, Ghana, India, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Kenya, Azerbaijan, the Solomon Islands, Swaziland, El Salvador and Nigeria …and the list continues to grow.

Please note that BOVA aims to match volunteers to communities’ needs, so cannot guarantee a placement in a particular country.

Some examples of our host communities:


BREADS (Bangalore Rural Education And Development Society) is made up of a number of different projects serving the children of Bangalore. These are Salesian communities including night shelters, drop-in centres and homes for street children, schools, evening study sessions and informal education programmes, centres for child labours and crèches (to allow young mothers access to education).

More information: BREADS, India

SALVO, the Philippines

SALVO hosts our volunteers in a number of communities in the southern islands of the Philippines. These include a residential home for street children and a number of vocational training centres offering courses such as carpentry, mechanics and dressmaking as well as maths and English. In addition, most also have youth centres, feeding programmes and some level of medical provision.

More information: SALVO, the Philippines

The Hogar, Bolivia

The Hogar (Home) is a residential centre for around 120 girls aged between a few months and 19. Unlike most BOVA Host Communities, the Hogar is not a Salesian Community. Instead it is run by a community of Sisters, who with the volunteers provide a loving home for the girls, supporting their study and keeping them entertained with various activities including music and sport.

Read Simon's story to find out about volunteering at The Hogar 


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