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Charity work abroad

Work with a charity abroad

International Citizen Service (ICS) is a UK Government-funded programme that supports young people aged 18-25 to volunteer with a charity overseas. 

The projects you will be working on are around three months in length and support a range of objectives. Volunteers work to:

  • Improve access and quality of education
  • Help people to earn a decent living
  • Get the information and services they need to stay healthy
  • Protect the environment.
Volunteers support VSO's charity work in Ghana
© Nicholas Seun Adatsi
"It’s amazing but challenging, nothing is the same as what I’m used to! I found it hard to adjust to, but now I’ve adjusted I’m loving every moment and just feel so lucky to be here doing the work we’re doing"

18 year old Kathryn Cook volunteered with VSO

Which charity will you work with?

ICS is made up of a group of international charities specialising in youth programmes.

Each of these charities works with a number of local partners that are best suited to implementing the type of work on the ground that is needed.

Volunteer abroad for free

ICS is funded by the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). So, unlike many other volunteer programmes, volunteers do not have to pay to take part.  

However, volunteers are expected to fundraise a contribution towards the costs of ICS. This is to demonstrate commitment as well as to help support the running of the programme. Volunteers' contributions account for 10% of the cost of the programme.

97% of volunteers say that the experience has been very useful for their professional development
Professional and personal development

Volunteering overseas with ICS is a life-changing experience.

You'll spend 10-12 weeks supporting a development project overseas as part of a team of UK and local volunteers.

You will live and work side-by-side with local volunteers and your host family.

What's included?

As well as structured training and support, ICS volunteers receive:

  • visas 
  • flights
  • travel
  • comprehensive training
  • medical insurance
  • medication
  • vaccines
  • food and accommodation
  • a small allowance during their placement.
We have already supported 30,000 volunteers to support vital development work

Personal development

Expect to get a lot out of ICS. Not only will you support meaningful development work in a developing country, you'll also benefit from personal and professional development.

Taking part in ICS will help build vital transferable skills that could contribute towards finding a job. 

Naseem volunteered in Kenya with VSO
© ICS / VSO / Adriane Ohanesian
"If you're thinking about applying to volunteer with ICS, my message to you is stop waiting and go for it!"

Naseem Haque volunteered in Kenya

In a recent survey of our volunteers:

  • 97% say that the experience has been very useful for their professional development
  • 99% say the experience has been very useful for their personal development
  • 96% would recommend ICS to others

Why would the UK Government support young people volunteering abroad?

The UK Government sees the value in supporting young people to volunteer overseas. Young people are able to work with and connect with other young people. You can make a real difference.

There is no catch - but ICS is not a holiday. Your charity placement overseas is part of a long term sustainable development programme. You should expect to work hard.

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Funded by the UK Government.

ICS is funded by the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), which projects the UK as a force for good in the world, including reducing poverty and tackling global challenges.

Find out more