International Citizen Service (ICS)

International Citizen Service (ICS) is a once-in-a-lifetime volunteering opportunity open to all 18-25 year olds, funded by the UK Government. 

ICS is a development programme that brings together young people from the UK and developing countries to volunteer in some of the poorest communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America. UK volunteers work side-by-side with local volunteers in developing countries, staying with host families in the local community.

To volunteer you don’t need cash, skills or qualifications – just the ambition to make a difference. ICS isn't a holiday. It's demanding but hugely rewarding. It's a great opportunity for personal development, a stepping stone to future careers and a chance to make your world a better place. 

The programme is 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.

ICS has projects in some of the poorest communities around the world. You can take a look at the countries we work in, the type of projects we deliver there and our partners who deliver them. All our partners work with local organisations but each has a unique approach to their work, so do a little reading.

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International Citizen Service (ICS) Reviews

An incredible experience

I had done volunteering abroad before and absolutely loved it which is why I wanted to take part in the ICS Programme as well. My previous volunteering project changed the way I viewed the world and had a profound impact on both myself personally and the life decisions I went on to make. It changed me as a person and I now can’t imagine what my life would have been like without it.
I was on ICS from September to December 2017 on a bilingual programme in Nicaragua. It gave me an incredible opportunity to learn Spanish and interact closely with people from other countries. In my group we had 6 Brits, 4 Nicaraguans, 3 Costa Ricans and 1 person from Belgium, it was such a unique experience!
What I loved most about ICS is living with a host family, with my other volunteering project I lived in a house with the other volunteers so this was a completely new experience for me! It was absolutely amazing and made my experience so much richer. Even though my Spanish wasn’t that good, my host family welcomed me with open arms and I was so sad to say goodbye to them at the end of the programme. It is truely unique and special to spend time with another family from another culture like this and I would definitely recommend this to anyone that wants to challenge themselves or go on an adventure of a lifetime! There was problems, issues and challenges, but everything can be solved with a bit of teamwork and honest communication.
If you do decide on ICS, I promise you won’t regret it!

By: Gemma
Nationality: British
Age: 23


I completed the on placement part of ICS in rural Rajasthan and can honestly say it’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. The people I met are now people I consider my best friends. We were forced to grow and adapt to different situations and behaviours and I think we’re all now better people for it. My host family are the most genuine and gorgeous people I could’ve ever wished to live with and I’m hoping to visit them next year.

By: Freya
Nationality: British
Age: 19

Volunteering through ICS was the best opportunity I have ever had, and I wish I could do it all again

I joined a 10 week community and sports coaching placement in Cape Coast, Ghana where I lived in a local community with a host family. I never realised how quickly ten weeks can go! It taught me a lot about a completely different way of life, and a new culture that it so unlike ours here in the UK. It has changed my outlook on many different issues and gave me a new perspective on life.

By: Marc Seymour
Nationality: British
Age: 22

ICS Bangladesh experience

I recently returned from a trip to Bangladesh with one of ICS's partner charities, Y Care International.
I volunteered in a small rural village in Bangladesh for 3 months as part of the programme. I taught English 3 times a week to drop out students, helping them to get back in to government schools. Myself and 4 others worked with a team of 5 young local people, planning and delivering a series of workshops on topics such as gender equality, women's rights, child's rights, health and hygiene, education and the environment, to raise awareness on the importance of these issues within Bangladesh and on a global scale. We had to budget throughout the placement to make these activities possible along with looking at other projects that we could help with, that would benefit the local area in a sustainable way. Throughout the placement I grew more confident, and met so many amazing people along the way! We stayed with host families, local people who welcome you into their home and treat you like part of their family! It is a life changing, once in a life time opportunity. It is a great way to experience a different culture, whilst gaining important skills that will not only help you in the future, but they also look great on your CV! I would highly recommend the International Citizen Service to anyone looking for personal development, or to enhance their skills before University or starting work.

By: Ciara Rooney
Nationality: White British
Age: 19

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