UWE High Team Commission

Global volunteering

Volunteering abroad can be an invaluable experience. It allows you to explore another country, experience a new culture, meet new people, learn new skills, have an adventure – and it looks great on your CV too!

Whether you are interested in spending some time volunteering in another country during university holidays or after graduating, our Volunteering team can support you to find a project that’s right for you.

UWE Bristol Volunteering: international opportunities

Think Pacific Fiji Project

We are partnering with Think Pacific to offer you the chance to spend four weeks at one of their projects in Fiji during the summer of 2018. You will be working as part of a team of UWE Bristol students in a variety of projects in the local community. The project will take place in the heart of the South Pacific Islands. You'll live together in a remote and traditional Fijian community on Fiji's biggest island, Viti Levu. Over four weeks you will make a real impact to sustainable youth and sports development projects.

The project combines assisting local teachers within rural primary and secondary schools, organising one-to-one tuition, leading kindergarten classes, pioneering extra-curricular activities and youth clubs, and implementing grass roots sports development initiatives – which include daily PE classes and sports outreach workshops.

The project will be tough, challenging and rewarding. Monday to Friday will be extremely busy with school and sports volunteering. Weekends will be spent exploring the local scenery, climbing jungle peaks and getting to grips with daily Fijian life. The project will start and end at Fiji's paradise resorts, with a government briefing on arrival and a final weekend of fun and relaxation at the end. You'll leave Fiji having made new friends, a real impact to local children and with a second home in the Fiji Islands.

If you are interested in taking part in summer 2018 or would just like a bit more information, please contact info@thinkpacific.com.

East African Playgrounds

The Students' Union is working with East African Playgrounds (EAP) to offer our students the opportunity to volunteer in Uganda for a month during the summer of 2018. Throughout the programme volunteers will live within the Ugandan community, working closely with other UWE Bristol students, the East African Playgrounds staff and the children. Volunteers will usually spend the mornings supporting EAP's Ugandan builders to build the playground and in the afternoon will be running games or arts sessions with the children.

For more information, please email: volunteer@eastafricanplaygrounds.org.uk.

International volunteering opportunities

Our Volunteering team has put together a list of suggested international volunteering organisations and projects for you to have a look at.

While international volunteering can be hugely rewarding, it is more complex than volunteering at home. It is possible to find organisations providing volunteer placements in almost any corner of the world, but you need to do your research to make sure that you choose a project that is really worth your time and money, and is of benefit to the community that you will be working with.

This list is by no means exhaustive but is a good place to start if you want to see what’s out there. We have tried to include a range of opportunities and organisations to give you an idea of what’s possible and how much it might cost you.

International Citizen Service (ICS)

ICS is a UK government-funded development programme that brings together 18 to 25-year-olds from all backgrounds to fight poverty in overseas and UK communities. The programme is 10–12 weeks in length, operates in around 30 countries and is delivered by a collection of charity organisations. If you are aged 23 or over, there are also project leader opportunities available.

Fundraising is an important part of ICS and, if you are accepted onto the programme, you will be expected to fundraise at least £800.

The following charity organisations deliver the ICS programme:

Please note: These organisations also offer other projects and are a good place to look if you decide that ICS is not for you but you are still interested in volunteering overseas.

Alliance Network UK

The Alliance of European Voluntary Service Organisations is an international, non-governmental youth organisation. It represents national voluntary service organisations which promote democratic youth participation, intercultural education, understanding and peace through voluntary service.

This network has four members in the UK, all of which are charities and offer global opportunities ranging from two weeks up to a full year. Project fees start at just over £200 plus travel, so they won’t break the bank either.

The four network members are:

European Voluntary Service (EVS)

EVS is a European Commission funded programme designed to give 18 to 30-year-olds the opportunity to volunteer in another European country for 2-12 months.

Projects cover a huge variety of themes and can be found in the central EVS database for registered organisations. You will need to use this database to look for potential projects but also to find a UK-based ‘sending organisation’ to help you with the application process and help you find a suitable project.

This programme is free for the volunteer and includes funding for associated costs such as travel, accommodation and food. The only potential drawback is that projects are competitive and the application process can take up to several months. If you have the time to put in though, it’s well worth the wait!


SLV.Global gives Psychology students and Psychology graduates from across the world the chance to gain practical experience abroad in the mental health sector.

The projects, which take place in Sri Lanka, Bali and India, provide a fantastic opportunity to get immersed in a different culture. A project can last from one week to 12, depending on your area of interest and availability. For more information, please contact kate@slv.global.

Charity Apprentice

Charity Apprentice is a course made up of bite-sized online tasks and practical challenges that you complete at your own pace. The course is designed to teach you about how charities work and it leads onto the opportunity of spending up to a month in Africa, learning how your efforts change lives.

The course fee is £700 and includes certain elements of the African phase of the programme but you will still need to cover the costs of flights, vaccinations, visas and any additional costs relating to personal travel outside of the project such as going on a safari etc.

Other organisations

As well as all of the above opportunities, there are also countless other international volunteering organisations that offer projects worldwide.

With organisations like these, it is a good idea to look at where your money is actually going to ensure that the organisation is not making huge profits at the expense of the project that you are actually volunteering your time with.

Here are a few examples of organisations that provide a breakdown of where your money is going:

International volunteering on InfoHub

A selection of international volunteering opportunities are advertised on InfoHub (login required).

This is just a starting point, and there are many more organisations providing opportunities to volunteer abroad, which you can find through an internet search.

Please note: UWE Bristol is not affiliated with any of these projects so please remember that it is still important to do your own research into each of the opportunities before making any decisions.

Volunteering Fair

We have an annual Volunteering Fair in September/October, which is a great chance to meet a selection of organisations offering international volunteering and find out what opportunities there are available to you.

Making a difference without travelling abroad

If you want to make a difference but do not want to travel abroad, you can join one of The Students’ Union at UWE Bristol’s societies or charity groups tackling global injustice issues. You can also volunteer in Bristol for a charity committed to helping and supporting international causes or our international community.

All opportunities are advertised on InfoHub (login required), and if you would like any advice or guidance just contact UWE Bristol Volunteering.

Things to consider

Researching the organisation

It is important you know exactly what you are signing up for. We have put together some overseas volunteering questions to guide you when researching overseas volunteering opportunities to help you make an informed choice.

Make sure you take time to do your research, ask questions and get recommendations before signing up to anything, handing over any money or leaving the country.

For the organisation that you are interested in volunteering with, we strongly suggest you consider:
  • ethics
  • transparency
  • sustainability
  • cost
  • safety implications
  • level of support offered.

We also recommend that you read the advice given by Ethical Volunteering.

What do you want to do?

You need to think about what experience you are looking for while you are away. Advertised opportunities may be with international organisations or with UK organisations who have partnered with local projects in various countries.

These range from charities and not-for-profit organisations to ‘voluntourism’ agencies and large for-profit companies, so think about what kind of project and organisation you would like to volunteer with, and what your aims and objectives for volunteering are.

When do you want to go?

Plan ahead as applications to volunteer abroad will need to be made well in advance.

For example, if you want to do some international volunteering over your summer break, you need to start thinking about this around Easter, if not before.

How long do you want to go away for?

Volunteering placements can range from short-term placements of two weeks to longer-term projects of two years or more. Think about how much time you can commit to a project and also about how long you think you would feel comfortable being outside of the UK for.

Although many projects are very well supported and are used to hosting international volunteers, you might want to consider doing a shorter-term project first if you are nervous about being away for longer periods. You can always do a longer one at a later date if you decide you want more of a challenge!

Where do you want to go?

You might want to narrow your search to a particular country or continent. Maybe there’s a particular language you would like to practice or a culture that really captures your imagination. Some organisations will specialise in volunteering projects in certain parts of the world where they have well established partners and projects.

Always check out the political situation in the country and whether foreign travel is recommended by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office before committing to any plans.

You will also need to find out whether you need a visa to volunteer in your chosen country and how you can apply for this. Many organisations will be able to give you advice on this, so make sure you ask before booking any flights.

Visas will depend on the destination country, placement length and the type of work that you will be doing.

How much money do you have?

Most overseas volunteering placements will require you to pay a programme fee to take part to cover project costs along with things like accommodation, food and travel within the country.

Some placements can be quite pricey so you should find out exactly where your money will be going and what it will be covering.

You may need to cover additional costs too, such as flights, vaccinations, visas and insurance.

Funding towards your placement

You will probably need to do some fundraising towards the cost of your placement, and this is often part of the whole experience of volunteering overseas. The organisation that you are volunteering with should be able to help you with your fundraising by providing ideas and suggesting possible sources of funds.

The Students' Union at UWE also offers support to students fundraising. Through fundraising you will gain a wide range of valuable skills, but it is essential that you allow enough time to raise the required money.

If you are a current UK domiciled undergraduate student and are in receipt of a Student Finance Grant/Special Support Grant and/or a UWE Bristol Bursary, you can apply for the Go Global Bursary, which can grant you up to £500 towards your costs.

Follow UWE Bristol Volunteering on social media

Visit our Facebook and Twitter profiles to view the latest photos and updates from voluntary projects.

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