International volunteering

International volunteering

Many students are interested in spending some time volunteering in another country during their summer vacations.  Below are some ideas/resources to assist with research and planning.

Volunteering overseas has all the benefits of volunteering in the UK as well as providing the opportunity to experience a new culture and country.  By working and/or living with local people you will learn a lot about the culture of a country, and potentially, a new language.

Researching the organisation

  • Before signing up for anything it is essential that you have fully researched the organisations and what you will actually be doing overseas, so that you understand what is expected of you.
  • Try to get in contact with previous volunteers and don't just rely on information in promotional literature or on websites.  Some voluntary organisations hold information events where previous volunteers are on hand to talk about their experiences.
  • Find out how much support you will have from the organisation when you are overseas and what they do to help if volunteers have an emergency.
  • Get our advice on questions to ask before accepting an overseas placement.

Funding and Fundraising

  • You will find that most overseas volunteering projects will require you to pay something towards taking part.  This is usually to cover things like accommodation, food, travel within the country etc.  You should also note that, in most cases, volunteers have to cover the cost of their flight, travel and health insurance, visas etc.
  • Some volunteering projects are very expensive so it makes sense to shop around and find out exactly where your money would be going, what's included and more importantly, what's not included.
  • Usually, how much you pay is dependent on how long you intend to volunteer for.
  • The amount that you require for your volunteering project may mean that you have to do some fundraising.  Voluntary organisations should be able to help you with fundraising by providing ideas etc.
  • How you find the funds to be able to do your volunteering project is very much part of the whole experience and you will find that you will gain a wide range of valuable skills from this exercise alone.  It is essential that you allow enough time for your fundraising.

Get advice before travelling

  • The FCO (Foreign & Commonwealth Office) website gives up to date travel advice for British travellers.
  • The UK Government Travel Aware campaign aims to help British people to stay safe and healthy abroad.

Use the Careers Service

  • Volunteering opportunities are advertised via MyCareerHub Strathclyde (DS login).
  • Goinglobal We subscribe to this online database. Country profiles include job hunting tips, local job search links, cultural information and CV tips, with examples, for different countries. (DS login required)

Useful websites

There are many international volunteering opportunities.  You need to think about where you want to go and what type of voluntary work you want to do.  The following sites may be helpful to you:

Planning a gap year abroad

You can also undertake international volunteering as part of a gap year.