Evaluation of International Citizen Service (ICS), the government funded volunteering programme that sent over 1200 UK young people to developing countries last year. The pilot THET-ICS programme, run in collaboration with King's Health Partners, concluded in 2011.

Report on International Citizen Service (ICS) Pilot Programme

Dr. Toyin Ajayi (left), a director of the Welbodi Partnership, and Lee Nathaniel-Wurie (right) present the project’s findings at the 2011 Global Health Conference in Montreal.

International Citizen Service (ICS), the government funded volunteering programme that sent over 1200 UK young people to developing countries last year, positively changed poor communities and engaged diverse groups of young volunteers.

According to an independent evaluation of its pilot year, ICS is ‘highly innovative and designed to push the boundaries of international youth volunteering programmes’, has positively changed disadvantaged communities and appealed to young people from lower income backgrounds.

Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening said: "This report shows just how positive the International Citizen Service pilot has been. The volunteers have done a great job, and as well as making a real contribution to development in the countries in which they’ve worked, they will bring back skills and knowledge which will help them in their own lives.”

After the success of the pilot, the ICS consortium has received funding until 2015 from the Department for International Development (DFID), and aims to recruit and train 7,000 UK young people and 7,000 young people from developing countries who will go on to become active citizens who are passionate about and involved in community-based volunteering.

Key findings from the report included:

  • 88 per cent of overseas partners rated volunteers as either ‘useful’ or ‘very useful’;
  • More young people want to tackle social issues with 86 per cent of volunteers reporting their understanding of the rights and responsibilities of active citizens after the programme (compared to 58 per cent before the programme);
  • The report states that ICS appealed to young people “who wouldn’t normally volunteer abroad” – over three quarters of volunteers were from lower household income groups;
  • Placing volunteers in ‘host homes’* was a big success and increased the depth of community level experience for volunteers and also improved cost efficiency; and
  • Working with volunteers from the developing country was very effective. They help achieve development impact and inspire future generations of people involved in and passionate about community-based volunteering.
  • Findings from the ICS pilot are being used to shape the full programme, in particular by working towards all volunteers experiencing living in host homes and working with more volunteers from developing countries.

    Jane Cockerell, Chief Exceutive at THET said:"Working in partnership with King’s Health Partners THET’s International Citizen Service (ICS) volunteers proved uniquely well placed to work with young people in health partner organisations across Africa.

    The need to better prepare health workers to deal with the global influences on health in an interdependent world is now accepted; students are responding enthusiastically to this opportunity and potentially represent a large untapped resource for enhancing the work of health partnerships.

    Building on the success of ICS, THET is exploring how healthcare students’ energy and insight can be channelled through health partnerships to benefit under resourced health systems in developing countries."

    The ITAD report is now live on the DFID website here

    Find out more about THET/ICS programme run in collaboration with King’s Health Partners here