Voluntary Service Overseas

Voluntary Service Overseas

Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) is an international development charity that works through experienced volunteers living and working as equals alongside local partners. It is the largest independent (non-governmental) volunteer-sending organization in the world. VSO has offices in the UK, Ireland, Canada, the Netherlands, Kenya and the Philippines and a recruiting partner in India; as at December 2004, it has volunteers of 14 different nationalities on placement. Since its founding in 1958, VSO has placed over 30,000 volunteers (2004) in developing countries in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe.

It currently develops programmes in six "goal areas": [http://www.vso.org.uk/about/strategic%5Fplan/]
* Education
* Health and Social Well-being
* Disability
* Participation and Governance
* Secure livelihoods


VSO was founded in 1958 by Alec Dickson through a bishop's letter [ [http://briandeer.com/vsoletter.htm Voluntary Service Overseas, VSO - the founding epistle ] ] to the London paper, "The Sunday Times", as an educational experience overseas for school-leavers, initially only boys, before starting university. Volunteers offered unskilled help in exchange for basic accommodation and pocket money. In 1962, the more recognized scheme of using 'qualified' volunteers came about. By 1968, VSO had 1420 volunteers overseas.

By 1980, the unqualified volunteers had been phased out and the period overseas had been extended to two years, with a more professional approach. Active volunteer numbers initially fell to around 750, but by 2003, the number had returned to around 1,400. As at December 2004, applications to volunteer are accepted from people aged between 20 and 75, with at least two years' experience in their field, and the average age of current volunteers is 38. Unlike almost every other organization of its type, VSO places no restriction on nationality.

In the early 1990s, in order to meet growing demand for highly specialized and skilled volunteers from its partners in developing countries, VSO established partner agencies in Canada, the Netherlands, Kenya/Uganda (VSO Jitolee), and the Philippines (VSO Bahaginan). In 2004, VSO launched a partnership called iVolunteer Overseas (iVO) in India with iVolunteer, an existing volunteering program of MITRA, an Indian NGO. At the same time, the charity's operations in Ireland are also becoming increasingly independent of the UK. VSO's structure is evolving into an international federation of these recruitment bases. International volunteers are recruited through all of these bases and they can be placed in any one of VSO's programmes (e.g. a Canadian volunteer working in Nepal, or a Ugandan volunteer working in Mongolia).

In addition, VSO...

* supports a number of national volunteering programmes (including schemes in India, Ghana, Kenya and others);
* acts as a 'knowledge broker', bringing local grassroots organisations [ [http://links.vsoint.org VSO LINKS - promoting volunteering to fight poverty and disadvantage ] ] together to share learning and best practice, for example through the Regional AIDS Initiative of Southern Africa [ [http://www.vso.org.uk/about/programme_initiatives/raisa.asp RAISA - Our programme initiatives - About VSO - VSO ] ] , with a network of partners in 7 southern African countries;
* offers several youth volunteering programmes, their own Youth For Development scheme [ [http://www.vso.org.uk/volunteering/youth/yfd.asp VSO ] ] , Global Xchange in partnership with the British Council, and VSO Canada's NetCorps and International Youth Internship Programs [ [http://www.vsocan.org/youth Untitled Document ] ]
* offers short-term consultancy-style volunteer placements, to complement their traditional long-term (two year) placements, following the merger with British Executive Service Overseas (beso) in March 2005, a smaller charity with similar aims, but which dealt with short-term volunteering.

Also, several large companies, including Accenture, PricewaterhouseCoopers, SAP and others, second some of their staff through VSO to work directly on international development projects.

At the UK Charity Awards in June 2004, VSO, which is primarily funded by the British Government's Department for International Development, was named "International Development Charity of the Year", with judges citing VSO's innovative approach to international development and volunteering. [ [http://www.vso.org.uk/news/pressreleases/awards.asp Charity Awards 2004 - Media releases - Newsroom - VSO ] ]

ee also

* Peace Corps
* Fredskorpset

External links

* [http://www.vso.org.uk/ VSO UK homepage]
* [http://www.vsoireland.org/ VSO Ireland homepage]
* [http://www.vsocan.org/ VSO Canada homepage]
* [http://www.vso.nl/ VSO Netherlands homepage (in Dutch)]
* [http://www.vsobahaginan.org.ph/ VSO Bahaginan homepage (Philippines)]
* [http://www.jitolee.org/ VSO Jitolee homepage (Kenya)]
* [http://www.ivoindia.org/ iVolunteer Overseas homepage (India)]
* [http://www.iVolunteer.org.in/ iVolunteer homepage (India)]
* [http://www.vsa.org.nz/ Volunteer Service Abroad (New Zealand's equivalent of VSO)]
* [http://www.australianvolunteers.com/ Australian Volunteers International (Australia's equivalent of VSO)]

Media reports

* [http://www.nationmalawi.com/articles.asp?articleID=16970 "How a Kenyan VSO volunteer is helping the health crisis in Malawi"] , "The Nation", Malawi, 26 May 2006
* [http://www.sundaymirror.co.uk/news/tm_objectid=17108811&method=full&siteid=62484&headline=mica-s-lost-his-family---i-wept-for-him--name_page.html "Mica's Lost His family - I Wept For Him"] , "Sunday Mirror", 21 May 2006
* [http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/careers/story/0,,1684167,00.html "VSO focuses on senior teachers"] , "Education Guardian", January 10, 2006
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/millenniumgoals/story/0,,1560658,00.html "Eight Ways to Change the World"] , "The Guardian", 7 September 2005
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,459449,00.html "Women lead as overseas volunteers"] , "Guardian" March 20, 2001
* [http://briandeer.com/vso-overseas.htm "Brian Deer investigates VSO"] , "London Sunday Times", April 26, 1998


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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Voluntary Service Overseas — (abbr VSO) a British charity, established in 1958, which sends doctors, teachers, engineers and other skilled people to live and work in other countries. They usually stay and help local people for two years, and are paid only a small amount.… …   Universalium

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