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Frequently asked questions

Below are the answers to some frequently asked questions. Greater detail on what is required throughout the volunteer journey can be found in the how it works section of the website.

If you can't find the answers to your questions, then please contact us.

Questions about:

The end of the current phase of ICS

Questions for existing volunteers and applicants

I have recently applied for ICS. Will my application be valid for the new programme once the redesign is complete?

If a significant time period elapses between an applicant starting their volunteer journey, and that individual departing on placement, it is likely volunteers may have to redo the application process. This includes any training they have undertaken to make sure they are equipped for a placement.

We understand the time and commitment volunteers have put into the scheme, and the FCDO is working to implement a fair system for current applicants and volunteers. This will set out to ensure young people who have already started their ICS journey, including those who returned before their mid-phase review due to COVID-19, receive priority places for any future scheme.

We will share further details on the ICS website in due course.

Why was I still allowed to apply if it was being cancelled?

The decision to close this phase of ICS was not confirmed until the end of September.

I was due to begin my placement in summer 2020. Will I be offered a placement once the redesign is complete?

If a significant time period elapses between an applicant starting their volunteer journey, and that individual departing on placement, it is likely volunteers may have to redo the application process. This includes any training they have undertaken to make sure they are equipped for a placement.

We understand the time and commitment volunteers have put into the scheme, and the FCDO is working to implement a fair system for current applicants and volunteers. This will set out to ensure young people who have already started their ICS journey, including those who returned before their mid-phase review due to COVID-19, receive priority places for any future scheme.

We will share further details on the ICS website in due course.

I completed less than 50% of my placement and was told I would be able to go again if it was within 18 months of being brought home. Will this still be the case?

If a significant time period elapses between an applicant starting their volunteer journey, and that individual departing on placement, it is likely volunteers may have to redo the application process. This includes any training they have undertaken to make sure they are equipped for a placement.

We understand the time and commitment volunteers have put into the scheme, and the FCDO is working to implement a fair system for current applicants and volunteers. This will set out to ensure young people who have already started their ICS journey, including those who returned before their mid-phase review due to COVID-19, receive priority places for any future scheme.

We will share further details on the ICS website in due course.

When is ICS going to start again? How will I know when it has?

Conversations are ongoing in the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) about what a new phase of the scheme might look like and how we can operate this safely in a post-COVID world. The exact timing and structure of any future placements is unconfirmed.

We will share further details on the ICS website in due course.

Will ICS still be delivered by VSO/Restless/Raleigh when it starts again?

The FCDO will lead a competitive process for a future ICS contract and so it is not guaranteed that it will be delivered by the same agencies in the future. 

Questions about fundraising

Can money I have fundraised be returned to me as I have not begun my placement?

We are not able to return money that has been raised by volunteers. The funds raised by volunteers contribute towards the overall funding of the ICS programme. This means that a volunteer is not 'paying' for their specific place, and the money they raise won't necessarily be spent on their particular project.

Those who donate to and support ICS volunteer fundraising are giving money to help people in some of the world's poorest and most marginalised communities. Volunteer fundraising provides 10% of the total ICS budget, and that means the money donors give will support all ICS partners to run the programme effectively and safely. We will always ensure that their donations contribute directly to our work.

If you’d like further information about this you can also read VSO's Refund Policy.

Can I carry fundraising over to a future programme?

It is not possible for any money you have fundraised to count towards a fundraising target on a future programme. The funds raised by volunteers contribute towards the overall funding of the ICS programme. This means that a volunteer is not 'paying' for their specific place, and the money they raise won't necessarily be spent on their particular project.

Those who donate to and support ICS volunteer fundraising are giving money to help people in some of the world's poorest and most marginalised communities. Volunteer fundraising provides 10% of the total ICS budget, and that means the money donors give will support all ICS partners to run the programme effectively and safely. We will always ensure that their donations contribute directly to our work.

What has my fundraising money been used for since placements stopped?

Despite the decision to close the current ICS programme, ICS fundraising has enabled national volunteers to continue supporting their local community during the COVID-19 pandemic, supported active citizenship of ICS alumni globally, and will continue to support youth networks through ICS.

Questions about the redesign and future programme

Why is the programme being redesigned?

The UK Government is redesigning the programme to ensure it continues to provide the best offer for young volunteers and the communities they serve, and the best value for the British taxpayer.

Can I apply for the new programme?

The application process for the programme is currently closed while the redesign takes place.

When will placements be available on the future programme?

The UK Government is currently redesigning ICS. Whilst the redesign is ongoing, the exact timing of future placements is unconfirmed.

Where and when can I find out more information about the future programme?

We will share further details on the ICS website in due course.

Questions for alumni and members of National Youth Engagement Networks (NYEN)

How can I request a reference from my time on ICS if I am applying for a job after the programme has closed?

Volunteers who participated on ICS with VSO, Raleigh International or Restless Development can request a reference by contacting these agencies directly. If you participated on ICS with another agency you can request a reference by contacting VSO.

Will NYEN continue to run?

Our youth networks are very important to VSO and the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), as they support young people to be lifelong active citizens. We are exploring options for sustaining the networks after December, although it is a very challenging context. Keep an eye on the NYEN page for more information.

Will ICS be offering any active citizenship/volunteering/training activities in the meantime?

VSO and the ICS agencies have offered alumni engagement activities, such as training, International Youth Day celebrations and seed funding, to volunteers after their placement, often as part of a National Youth Engagement Network. These youth networks are very important to VSO and the FCDO, as they support young people to be lifelong active citizens. We are exploring options for sustaining the networks after December, although it is a very challenging context. Keep an eye on the NYEN page and the ICS Hub for more information.

What happens to the people I was working with, and the project I was on?

ICS in-country staff are continuing to work closely with our community partners, including our networks of volunteer hosts, in order to complete the current cycle of community volunteer placements and to manage the ICS close out process. ICS is designed not to create partner dependency on our volunteers and their work will be continuing. Some ICS projects were linked to wider programmes that are still being funded and these will continue. Others will be looking into how to grow their networks of community-based volunteers.

General questions about the end of the current phase of ICS

Why isn't VSO continuing ICS?

The current contract for ICS, delivered by VSO in partnership with Restless Development and Raleigh International, will come to its planned end in December 2020. VSO’s work is dependent on securing the necessary funding, and ICS is no exception to this.

Has COVID-19 had anything to do with the decision?

In March 2020 ICS supported all active volunteers to return home from their placements, and cancelled the cycles that had been planned for later in the year due to COVID-19. Flying large numbers of international volunteers across the world is unlikely to be a model either VSO or the FCDO would start up again before the impact of the pandemic reduces significantly from its current levels.

When did you find out?

The FCDO confirmed at the end of September that the current phase of ICS would close at the end of December.

Are there any other opportunities like this I could look into?

There are many opportunities for young people to be active citizens and contribute to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, both locally and globally. Check out the ICS Hub for examples and inspiration.

Will there be an opportunity to celebrate the impact of ICS?

The ICS team is exploring options for celebrating the impact of ICS. Alongside a legacy website, we hope to host a global call online in early December. Details of this will be shared on the ICS website and in the ICS Newsletter.

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Applying and eligibility

Am I eligible to volunteer?

Volunteers should be:

  • Aged 18-25 (Team Member) or 23-35 (Team Leader)
  • A UK, EU or EEA citizen, or with indefinite leave to remain in the UK, and have lived in the UK for the past year and currently have a UK address
  • Committed to spending 10-12 weeks overseas
  • Willing to live with a host family whilst on placement
  • Committed to fundraising – this shows your commitment and we will support you
  • Committed to continuing your work in your home community through Action at Home 

Volunteers interested in applying should read through our how it works section, to ensure they fully understand the commitments of volunteering with ICS

Volunteers from countries where ICS runs programmes:

Please see the ICS In-Country Volunteer website for more details on each country where we are recruiting volunteers from. 

Can I apply if I'm 17?

You can apply for ICS when you're 17, but we won't take your application forward until you turn 18. If you are 25, you can apply if you will still be 25 when you get on a plane to go overseas. You can also apply to be a Team Leader - you need to be aged 23-35 years old for this role.

How do I apply?

Find out more about the application process. We also recommend you read through the 'how it works' section so you have all the information you need.

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Diversity and inclusion

Can I volunteer if I have a criminal record?

Having a criminal record does not mean that you can’t go on the programme. Yes, we can accept people with a criminal record but you must declare your previous contact with the police and/or convictions at the selection day. If you fail to declare any criminal convictions that later come up on your DBS police check, you might then be disqualified from the programme. We must have received a DBS certificate for you before you are able to depart on your placement.

Will an impairment or disability rule me out?

At ICS we embrace diversity and are committed to ensuring our programme is inclusive and supportive to allow everyone to have the best possible experience. We will make reasonable adjustments throughout the journey to ensure that all our volunteers can access, participate and contribute to the programme. Read more about our commitment to inclusion. If you have any further questions. Please contact us.

Are the placements safe for people who are LGBT+?

Everyone has a unique experience of ICS and young people with different sexual orientations and gender identities are no different.  Many LGBT+ young people have taken part in ICS and have positive experiences, however there can sometimes be additional challenges on placement to consider.

LGBT+ rights vary significantly around the world and it’s important to know the context of the country you’re visiting. At ICS we will provide you with detailed information to help you to consider and prepare for living and working in a country where attitudes to sexual orientation and gender identity may differ to the attitudes you have experienced in your home country or community. Read more about our commitment to inclusion. If you have any further questions, please contact us.

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Costs and fundraising

Will the cost exclude me from volunteering?

The ICS programme is funded by the UK Government and aims to ensure that youth from diverse backgrounds can access the programme. Therefore, as a matter of principle, no volunteer will be excluded from accessing the programme due to cost.

Find out more about costs and funding

Should I be worried about reaching my fundraising target?

Please don’t be, and don’t let it put you off applying! We know how daunting it can sound to do fundraising, but our team has supported thousands of volunteers over the years and helped the majority successfully surpass their targets!

All ICS volunteers are provided a dedicated Fundraising Support Officer to help them with fundraising. You’ll have ongoing support, weekly tips, advice and online networks to access. You’ll also have fundraising sessions at your assessment day and at pre-placement training.

If you have any concerns, just email ics.fundraising@volunteerics.org. You can also find out more about how we support you with your fundraising.

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Health and safety

Is ICS safe?

Volunteer safety and security is our top priority. Before placing volunteers into projects we take a number of steps to minimise the risk of placements. Find out more about volunteer safety and security

What steps do you take to keep volunteers healthy overseas?

Volunteer safety and security is our first priority. All those volunteering overseas must clear a medical assessment prior to departure. Volunteers will be provided with all necessary medications and vaccinations prior to travel. Medical insurance is included as part of your placement. ICS agencies maintain good relationships with national governments and local authorities, as well as with local medical facilities to ensure we can react quickly in the rare occasions this is necessary.

Find out more about staying healthy and safety and security.

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Travel

Will you help me with travel?

Yes. All ICS volunteers are supported to ensure they are ready for their placement, including support with travel, visas and work permits. Find out more in our volunteer travel section

I don’t have a passport, can I go?

If you have never had a passport before (either as a child or adult passport), you must apply for one at least six weeks before you are due to travel. Your first passport cannot be fast tracked (this is for UK passports). We can help you to do this, just make sure you let us know in time.

I have a passport but it expires soon. Can I go?

If your passport expires within six months of the end of your project, you must renew it before you leave the UK.

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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