International Citizen Service (ICS) is a once-in-a-lifetime, UK government-funded programme providing volunteer placements to 18-25 year old’s encouraging personal and career development, and the best part is…it’s all free!
This January I was sat with my sister pondering about what I was going to do with myself for this summer; with limited money to afford even one small weekend away, it was slim pickings until my sister piped up with a suggestion.
The conversation went as so…
Sis: “Why don’t you apply for International Citizen Service?”
Me: “What on earth is that?”
Sis: “Well, I heard it was a government organisation that pay for you to volunteer overseas and work within the communities there.”
Me: “They pay for you?” (My student finance was spread rather thin at this point)
Sis: “That’s what I gather, they pay for your flights, accommodation and vaccinations, they pretty much pay for everything.”
By this point, I had whipped out the laptop and was typing ICS into the search engine. From that simple search, I ended up applying and quickly found myself invited to an assessment day, I was accepted and now enrolled on a two month placement in Malawi set for July, all in the space of one month.
The Application- How simple is the process?
When online you can sign up to any of the smaller, hand picked groups that offer different programs and projects that are suited to your preference. The one I chose to do was ‘International Services’, which established in Africa, and their programs are based on educating communities about their rights, especially women and children and people with disabilities. The application takes ten minutes and just asks you to provide some basic details. Once submitted, you just sit back and wait.
The Phone Call
After about two weeks you will receive a phone call from the ICS team who ask a few more questions and then invite you to take part in an assessment day.
The Assessment Day
They have many assessment days around the country, they pay for your transport and even overnight accommodation, as mine was in York! The day itself was a very enjoyable process, they have interviews, team building activities and free food! (My highlight). Once the day is over, you hear back from them after a week and they let you know how you got on.
What Happens Next?
If you do get accepted, which most people do, you are supported along the way. You have a small amount of fundraising and preparation to do leading up to your volunteering date, with group meetings to prepare you.
That is my experience so far and with each step I take into the program, I become even more aware of how much it has to offer.
If you want to know more or want to apply, visit http://www.volunteerics.org/what-ics I highly recommend it if you want to do some amazing work and achieve skills to enhance your CV that is also kind to your student bank account.