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National Audit Office Report Response



For all our volunteers and supporters: response to the National Audit Office report into the International Citizen Service

Today you may be hearing about the International Citizen Service in the media. ICS has been reviewed by the National Audit Office, whose job is to check that government money is spent well.

We’ll be studying the review findings with interest, particularly around security and the impact of our programmes and considering any recommendations.  We know our volunteers have made a huge contribution to fighting poverty around the world. Young people from the UK working alongside their peers in developing countries are a positive force making real change happen.

ICS has created real and long-lasting change in the lives of some of the world’s poorest people. For example, in Nigeria ICS volunteers have encouraged kids to stay in school and in Bangladesh they have successfully campaigned against child marriage. We’re very proud of these – and other - successes, which are driven by our volunteers’ enthusiasm and energy.

ICS offers the UK taxpayer value for money. Some cheaper commercial schemes exist, but ICS is unique. It offers a life-changing experience for volunteers whilst making a real change in the lives of some of the world’s poorest people. This is British aid making a difference.

As part of the review, the National Audit Office has examined the safety record of the ICS programme. The safety and security of our volunteers is paramount. Serious events are extremely rare and almost all of the 30,000 young people on ICS have had a safe and successful placement. Although there is always an element of risk, ICS is one of the safest ways young people can volunteer in developing countries. ICS has a really thorough safety system so that any incident is dealt with quickly and effectively. Volunteers’ wellbeing is our priority.

The International Citizen Service can be a life changing experience. ICS is a chance for young people, many of them from disadvantaged backgrounds, to serve others, develop skills and discover their potential.



For more information and general enquiries call the VSO supporter care team on 020 8780 7400.

For media enquiries call the VSO press office on 020 8780 7640 or email

ICS background

The ICS is funded by the UK government. Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) lead the programme in partnership with a consortium of seven other development organisations: Balloon Ventures, Challenges Worldwide, International Service, Raleigh International, Restless Development, Tearfund and Y Care International.

ICS has so far supported 30,000 young people on volunteer placements in 28 developing countries in Africa, Asia and South America.

ICS has three main aims: running volunteer development work, creating new personal, professional and leadership opportunities for young people, and increasing the ability of those young people to be active citizens.

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Funded by the UK Government

ICS is funded by the UK Government's Department for International Development (DFID) which leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty.

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