There are around 100 agencies in the UK that place volunteers abroad. There are lots of opportunities out there.
Volunteering opportunities vary in duration and cost. Some organisations have now set up 'adventure' holidays with a volunteering element. These can often be much more costly.
Things to consider
What do you want to do?
You need to think about what experience you are looking for, how much you want to travel, sight-see, volunteer, learn a language, or pick up new skills. There is a lot to consider so give yourself plenty of time to research.
Where do you want to go?
You might want to narrow your search to a particular country or continent. Some organisations will specialise in volunteering projects in certain parts of the world.
How much money do you have?
You may have to pay for travel, living expenses, project materials and insurance. You might need to fundraise to cover your costs.
Do your homework
- Check out the organisation before you hand over any money or leave the country.
- Ask if you can be put in touch with people who have been on their projects before. Try to speak to someone who has volunteered with them, rather than trusting testimonials.
- Look at insurance very carefully; will you need your own travel insurance. Does their insurance cover you for the kind of work that you will be doing? What would happen if you needed to get back to the UK?
- What kind of work will you be doing? Is there a genuine need for volunteers to do this or has the opportunity been created as an adventure holiday?
- Research the country that you want to go to; check out the political situation, climate etc.
- Length of time is a critical factor as projects vary from short term placements of a few weeks to longer term projects of two years or more.
- Most organisations will ask you to pay an administration fee for arranging the trip for you.
- It is important to check whether the project provides for travel, accommodation, food and pocket money.
- Most projects ask for people with particular skills or experience.
- Many agencies are small and will place a limited number of volunteers.
- Some organisations are aimed at those of a particular religious creed.
- Applications to do overseas voluntary work should be made well in advance.
- Download our Guide to International Volunteering.
- WorkingAbroad: Hosts information about organisations recruiting volunteers and has previous volunteer feedback stories.
- CIEE: The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) also provides information about-short term jobs abroad, internships (stages), international university information to students and recent graduates.
- Gap-Year.com: Online guide to taking a gap year in the UK or overseas.
- Intervol: Inspiration, information and impartial advice you need to discover your perfect volunteering opportunity overseas.
- WorldWide Volunteering: Find details of hundreds of opportunities on the WWVol database.
- Voluntary Worker: Information and advice to help you to find any type of voluntary work all over the world. UK resource for interesting features and practical advice on volunteering, with features and articles written by professional journalists and experts - who have a particular interest, or a background in volunteering.
- Ethical Volunteering: Help to select an ethical international volunteering placement.
You'll find a selection of books and leaflets on international volunteering in the Employability and Enterprise Zone. Please visit us and feel free to look at the selection of resources.