Young people need to be at the forefront of the fight against poverty – that is the message Prime Minister David Cameron delivered today (23rd April) as he expressed his support for the new ’International Citizen Service’ (ICS) scheme. Progressio is taking part in this government-funded programme, which will send 7,000 young people, aged 18-25, from the UK over the next 3 years, to work in partnership with young people in developing countries on projects to fight poverty where help is most needed. ICS works through established and respected UK volunteering organisations, such as Progressio, to send volunteers overseas and to support them while they are there. The scheme follows a hugely successful pilot year.

The Prime Minister said: "The International Citizen Service programme will have a real impact on the lives of both those abroad and our young people from the UK, not just over the next three years, but for years to come. The service will create thousands of international development champions, bringing together young people from all walks of life.  This life-changing experience is a chance for young volunteers from all over the country to really understand the many challenges faced by people from very poor countries, and to do something positive to help.  It will not only broaden their horizons, but it will build the confidence necessary to achieve their personal and professional goals in later life.  We all know the passion, dedication and skils that young people have to offer.  It is this that will be the real driving force to bring about change, and to really help tackle poverty locally."

Progressio has played a major part in the pilot phase of the ICS scheme, sending 130 volunteers since July 2011. In this second phase, the Progressio volunteers will work in Malawi, El Salvador, Zimbabwe, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, said: “The International Citizen Service pilot scheme has already given over 1,000 young people from the UK the chance to directly contribute to tackling poverty in some of world’s poorest countries."

He continued: “I am delighted to announce that we are extending this opportunity, providing a further 7,000 placements over the next three years. This will give many more young people who might otherwise not be able to afford it the chance of a life-changing experience. They will gain new perspectives, greater confidence and higher aspirations. They will also make a real difference to the lives of people in developing countries.”

ICS pairs small groups of UK volunteers with young people from a developing country. Volunteers will do pre-departure fundraising towards their placement, engaging them in community action before they leave the UK. Together, UK and in-country volunteers will work on a development project, live together and share experiences and insights. The UK volunteers are drawn from across the country and from a wide range of backgrounds.

The government believes the investment will be strongly beneficial to the volunteers, in the way that they will learn key life-skills such as communication, teamwork, leadership and project planning. Also, it will give the volunteers the chance to become active citizens, engaging themselves in the fight against poverty and social issues. The projects carried out by the volunteers have a real and lasting development impact on sustainable development, which makes the scheme even more rewarding.

Tim Aldred, Head of Policy and Communications at Progressio, said: “We are delighted to have this opportunity to enable young people from the UK to work in poor countries around the world. We are sure that with their energy, skill and commitment they will be able to make a real difference.”

Brian Rockliffe, Director of ICS, said: “We are very excited at the launch of the ICS programme. ICS will focus on young people because they hold our future in their hands; they are disproportionately the victims of poverty and they also have the greatest potential to tackle the causes of poverty. The ICS programme will develop thousands of active global citizens, both in the UK and in developing countries who know the power of community-based volunteering and will build on that learning throughout their lives. This dynamic global network of young, motivated individuals will continue to effect positive change in their communities and make a lasting, valuable contribution to international development and the fight against poverty."


Notes for Editors

1. International Citizen Service is a volunteering scheme offered by Progressio, VSO, Restless Development, International Service, Raleigh International and Tearfund and funded by the Department for International Development. To find out more about ICS volunteer opportunities visit

2. Keep in touch with how the Progressio ICS volunteers are getting on over the next few months or apply to volunteer for placements via

3. For more information, please contact Manon Hazell: or on 020 736 2011.

4. Progressio is a UK-based charity working internationally to help people gain power over their lives and overcome barriers that keep them poor.  For further information see