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Sustained social action

The impact of ICS endures beyond the placement.

91% of volunteers (UK and in-country) say that their attitudes towards social action has changed as a result of taking part in ICS. With two thirds of volunteers remaining involved in volunteering and social action.

Here are just some examples of volunteers continuing to engage in active citizenship:

Volunteering at home:

Supporting children to learn computer coding in Rwanda

After his placement, 25 year-old Rwandan Fidele Gisore joined Bright Future Cornerstone, an organisation that offers alternative educational support to volunteers and helps them deliver it to children and young people.

He now teaches local children computer coding and is working on a project to educate young people about environmental protection.


Working with rural farmers in Nepal

Nepali volunteer Bibek Pandit volunteered with VSO in Lamjung in rural central Nepal in 2012. Bibek set up a programme training 75 mostly women farmers from the marginalised Chepang tribe in Taakthali to become more independent. He taught them more about agriculture and helped them learn about production, saving and investing – and what crops they can farm all year round.


Advising entrepreneurs in Uganda

Ugandan volunteer Daaki Joshua finished his placement with Balloon Ventures ICS in Mbale in 2015, he was so inspired by the way his team came together that he came up with an initiative to keep the huge network of in-country Ugandan volunteers working to fight poverty.

Involving over 40 ICS alumni, he went back to the communities where Balloon volunteers work, helping reach more than 500 people and giving entrepreneurs business advice as well as setting up a scheme where alumni re-visit the businesses they worked with.


Helping refugees integrate in the UK

Following his placement in Nepal, volunteer Jake Neal, became a volunteer and mentor to refugees living in the UK. 

Through an organisation called BACA Jake’s role as a live-in volunteer sees him supporting four young men (aged 16-18) as they transition to living independently, helping them navigate a world full of forms, homework and legal applications in English.


Supporting refugees in Rwanda

Rwandan volunteer Emmanuel Nshimiyimana joined Tearfund’s ICS programme in 2014. Inspired by his experience tackling poverty, he partnered with three ICS alumni to start the ‘Green Saves’, a project based in Kigali that supports refugees from neighbouring countries such as Burundi to begin a new life.

From introducing self-help groups to supporting refugees to save money, to teaching them how to use these savings to resolve their own problems and start their own small businesses.

Supporting girls' education

Helping girls to stay in school in Kenya

For girls in primary and secondary schools across Kenya, menstrual and sexual health education isn’t always top of the agenda. But in-country VSO volunteer Felix Owino is determined to change this. He set up The Cup project, delivering health sessions to an incredible 1,780 young women.

With many girls missing schools due to a lack of menstrual products and education, Felix and his team partnered with another NGO to deliver free reusable menstrual cups to these school girls, while trained female health workers gave sessions in schools on the importance of hygiene.

They set up a confidential hotline number for the girls to contact if they had issues using the menstrual cup and organised face-to-face follow ups with the girls after two months.


Tackling taboos in Nepal

Over the past few months of lockdown, ICS  volunteers in Nepal have reached over 130 girls through virtual and in-person COVID-secure training sessions on menstrual hygiene and reusable pad making. They’ve also created a tutorial video on how to make sanitary pads, which has been viewed over 300 times online so far.

For the team behind this innovative idea, Reetika, Johnson, Daya, Saijal and Dipesh, these sessions are about much more than learning to make sanitary pads. They aim to empower girls to be confident in their education and in themselves

Becoming charity trustees

The youngest member of UK Youth Board

Inspired by his time volunteering overseas and tackling poverty in Bangladesh with Y Care International, Alex Edge was keen to work with young people on his return to the UK. This experience led him to become a Trustee at UK Youth.

As its youngest member, Alex knows he brings something unique to UK Youth’s Board. He says: “The fact that I’m a young person will help the Board to keep the young people they’re serving in mind.”


Leading and advocating for change

Raising awareness of FGM in the UK

Grace Mbrou, 19, now volunteers with UK-based charity AFRUCA in Manchester. The organisation helps to tackle the gaps for child protection within African communities in the UK, with part of their work concerned with challenging attitudes to FGM.

“I’ve got an advantage having worked on tackling the issue with AFRUCA. I now want to take that experience at the end of my studies and inform more people about dangers of FGM in the UK.” Says Grace.


Campaigning to end the global ban on hijabs in basketball

Basketball coach, Asma Elbadawi, 27, didn’t understand why a head covering should stop fellow Muslim women and girls from playing basketball professionally. Recently, as part of a group of global activists, she managed to overturn the ban.


Engaging in politics

  • Over 150 young people took part in the Girls’Education Forum (July 2016), aimed at accelerating progress towards Sustainable Development Goals 4 and 5.​​​​​​
  • Five ICS alumni attended the Junior 7 Summit in Japan (April 2016), where they presented their ideas to the Prime Minister of Japan, and a returned volunteer was chosen to attend the World Humanitarian Summit (May 2016).
  • An ICS returned volunteer was selected to be part of the UK delegation to the UN General Assembly (September 2016)

For more information see our reports and evaluations.

Honoured by the Queen for service to the local community

In 2020, ICS alumnus Bharat Thakrar, 30, from Harlow in the UK, was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. The BEM is a prestigious British medal awarded by the Queen for exceptional ‘hands-on’ service to the local community.

Bharat was recognised for his voluntary and charitable services in the UK and overseas, including setting up his own charity, Poverty Pound, to tackle poverty in the UK. For Bharat, his ICS experience played a key role in his success.

“For me, ICS was an absolutely incredible, life-changing experience. ICS teaches you a skill that you’ll never learn in a job, and it taught me a lot about myself. I learnt to be open-minded and adaptable and I learnt the importance of understanding the needs of community members”.

Young people driving positive change in a global pandemic

In the face of a global pandemic and increasing hardship in their communities, ten ICS volunteers came together with VSO to set up the UK's National Youth Engagement Network (NYEN) – an inclusive platform to amplify youth voices and create sustainable change.

From global climate action campaigns, to mental health myth-busting and an employability fortnight, NYEN UK’s activities online have empowered over 450 young people in ten countries.


ICS impact

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volunteers in classroom
© ICS / International Service / Katie Barraclough

About ICS

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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.

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