Long-term programme: 6 and 12 months
Interested in learning about new cultures and languages? Wanting to get involved in the development sector but need on the ground field experience?
Our long-term volunteering programme provides volunteers with the unique chance to really become part of a new culture, as well as develop exceptional transferable skills. Volunteers do not need to have any specific qualifications or language skills to take part in the long-term programme, just enthusiasm and a willingness to understand other cultures.
Placements start in August/September and January/February every year.
Volunteers from the UK, as well as other ICYE partner countries, will arrive together at their destination during set ‘Window Dates’. This is to enable all volunteers to receive training and language lessons provided by the ICYE host country, before starting their individual projects.
The official age range for the long-term programme is from 18-30, although we are also able to send volunteers who are over 30 and would be more than happy to chat to you further about this. The average age of the ICYE UK volunteer working overseas is 25 years old.
Long-term participants can volunteer in countries throughout Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. See our interactive map to find out where you can volunteer.
ICYE UK sends volunteers to work with local NGOs, which are run by local people. Projects are varied and range from supporting street children, to providing outreach support and education; from promoting HIV and AIDS awareness to working towards environmental conservation; from developing women’s rights and human rights programmes to conducting research for development NGOs. We meet with all prospective volunteers to discuss project preferences and subsequently use this information to make recommendations based on our many years of experience in sending volunteers overseas. Long-term volunteers can choose their project preferences and then it is the projects themselves who decide if they are able to host the volunteer, based on the volunteer’s application form, motivations and interests.
Most volunteers live with a host family, in order to gain a true, unique cultural experience and have the opportunity to speak the local language every day! Many of the host families have had their own children or family members also volunteer abroad on the ICYE programme.
You can opt to live independently or at a project if you prefer, although this can limit your project choice as not every project can provide accommodation.
We work closely with our ICYE partners around the world to help you prepare for your placement, to support you whilst you’re there and when you return. The following training is included in our long-term programme:
Volunteers will receive a 3 day pre-departure camp designed to help prepare them for everything they may encounter whilst volunteering abroad, with specific advice and guidance given in relation to the country they will be volunteering in. The training also covers important topics such as inter-cultural awareness, the rights and responsibilities of a volunteer, conflict resolution and the support offered in case of a problem and ways to stay involved with ICYE UK on their return. This is combined with the training camp we hold for our international volunteers who are at the end of their 12 month placement in the UK. This gives volunteers the opportunity to meet people from the country they will be volunteering in, even before they leave the UK.
Once volunteers have arrived in their host country, they will receive a minimum of 5 days on-arrival training, which is delivered by the ICYE office in country who are available for support right throughout the volunteer’s stay in the country. The training is aimed at acclimatising volunteers to the new environment and to give them the chance to learn more about the people and culture of the host country, the local ICYE and their placement. Volunteers also receive an introductory language course.
Those on a 12 month placement will receive a mid-year training camp, which is a chance to catch up with other volunteers and join the ICYE hosting committee to evaluate the volunteer’s first six months.
The last official meeting for all long-term volunteers is the final-evaluation training camp, where they will discuss their experiences and prepare to return home – which is often the hardest part!
Upon return home, volunteers will be invited to a training day to consolidate all the new skills they have developed and to also share their stories and experiences with their fellow volunteers. We often have an external facilitator come in to help volunteers with CV writing and interview techniques too.
After the final evaluation training camp, volunteers on a 6 month placement will have approximately two weeks of travel and volunteers on 12 month placement will have a free month. Although this is the official travel period, many volunteers on a six month placement choose to travel for a longer period as flights are valid for up until a year.