International Citizen Service

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International Citizen Service (ICS) is the UK’s leading global volunteering programme for young people who want to do voluntary development work abroad. ICS brings together young people from different countries to fight poverty – with volunteers from the UK working alongside volunteers from the developing world.

ICS works with projects that have specifically requested our help – and where the energy and skills of young volunteers can make a direct impact. Each project is designed to fight poverty and make a lasting difference by working with local people to meet local needs. So when you volunteer with ICS you won’t just think you will make a difference, you’ll know you will.

Funded by the Department for International Development, ICS is led by VSO, in partnership with a number of respected development organisations. All in-country projects are run by partners with expertise in international and youth volunteering. Each partner is working towards three development outcomes:

  • Project impact overseas
  • Volunteer personal development
  • Active citizens in the UK and overseas

According to David Cameron it was inspired by the Peace Corps.[1]

ICS is demanding but hugely rewarding – both in its own right and as a stepping stone to future job opportunities and to help you play a part in making your world a better place.

ICS and ICS Entrepreneur are led by VSO in partnership with a hand-picked group of respected development organisations. They each offer structured support and training to help and guide you – before, during and after your overseas placement.

The scheme aims to bring young people from different countries together to fight poverty, making a difference where it's needed the most.It also broadens the horizons of the volunteers and helps them develop soft skills such as team working and communication. ICS volunteers work directly alongside local volunteers on projects that have been specifically chosen to ensure that the energies and skills that young people bring can make a direct impact on poor communities. Following their placements ICS volunteers return to embark on community projects as #activecitizens.

ICS consortium

The ICS consortium are a group of organisations that, between them, bring a wealth of overseas volunteering and development experience to the programme, and allows the ICS scheme to support achievement of multiple Millennium Development Goals.

Collectively, the ICS agencies work directly with over 3000 international volunteers every year and have partnerships in over 60 countries.

The volunteer sending agencies in the consortium are:

ICS is open to everyone. All volunteers are asked to fundraise but no one will be excluded on grounds of cost and all volunteers receive support to help them meet their fundraising goals.


Some people have questioned whether the International Citizen Service is good value for money.[2] DfID's stated goal is "to promote sustainable development and eliminate world poverty", and questions have been raised as to whether paying for the flights, visas, accommodation, food, insurance, a certain amount of living expenses and training of untrained teenagers (approximately £7,633 per volunteer[3]) is really the most cost-effective use of £15.75m of DfID money.[4]



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