We have gathered together our most common questions about the ICS programme. If you have a question about ICS and it’s not answered here then please get in contact.

About the programme


Why did the government create ICS?
ICS was launched by the UK Prime Minister in March 2011 to harness the potential, energy and commitment of young people. Its aims are to fight poverty by bringing about three tangible outcomes; project impact, volunteer personal development and active citizenship. [Top]


How do developing countries benefit?
ICS brings the skills, enthusiasm and energy of young volunteers to development projects who have actively asked for help. Local ICS volunteers work alongside UK ICS volunteers, exchanging ideas and collaborating on finding effective solutions to real-life problems. This means that progress is focused and sustainable. [Top]


How do ICS volunteers benefit?
Volunteering offers a life-changing experience for young people and an opportunity to help improve the lives of some of the world’s poorest people. Participants learn first-hand about the challenges of poverty and what can be done about it. They leave the programme as better-informed active citizens with new skills for life – and to offer to potential employers. [Top]


How do I write my application form?
The application form is your chance to shine. This is the only information that we receive so you must really sell yourself. Try to think of examples from school, college, hobbies or work. Explain why you want to go overseas. ICS is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so please take your time and give as detailed answers as you can. [Top]


Why is it only open to 18 to 25-year olds?

The scheme is aimed at people who are at a formative stage in their lives. Volunteering at this age builds skills and attitudes that remain for life, both among UK volunteers and their partners overseas. ICS values the contribution of young volunteers, their ability to engage their peers, to act as a catalyst for community participation and to demonstrate in action that everyone has a role to play in development. ICS is also open to older volunteers aged 23+ who have the necessary skills and experience to be team leaders. [Top]


Why can’t I volunteer more than once?
ICS aims to provide a life-enhancing opportunity to as many people as possible. If you have already volunteered, you are not eligible to apply again. However, returned ICS volunteers with leadership and motivational skills can apply for team leader roles using the standard application form. [Top]


When should I apply?
We recommend you apply as soon as you can, but we recommend applying with a minimum of three months before you wish to go overseas. This gives you enough time to fundraise, get all your necessary vaccinations, go to training and generally get ready for your overseas placement. If you are looking to go overseas during the summer, these placements are the most popular due to university and college holidays falling in this period. If this is the only time you can go, then get your application in as soon as possible. [Top]


Is ICS anything to do with NCS?
Yes. National Citizen Service (NCS) is also a government scheme open to young people aged 16 – 17. Young people who make an outstanding contribution through National Citizen Service will be in a strong position to progress to ICS. [Top]

About Costs and Funding


How is ICS funded?
The UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID) funds 90% of the ICS programme. The other 10% is funded by volunteer fundraising. [Top]


How much do I need to fundraise?
All UK volunteers and team leaders are asked to raise a minimum target of £800 before departure on an ICS programme. This is an individual target. You will be fully supported to meet your target by an ICS Fundraising Officer. [Top]


Where do my funds go?
The money ICS volunteers and team leaders raise will go towards making sure we can give this opportunity to 7,000 young people from the UK and 7,000 volunteers from countries which you might be working in. This means your funds are vital in enabling the whole programme to be delivered until 2015.[Top]

About your eligibility


Can I volunteer if I have a criminal record?
Having a criminal record won’t necessarily prevent you from volunteering with ICS; it all depends on the circumstances and background of the offence. All of our partners use the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to provide Enhanced Disclosures for all volunteers and are committed to complying with the DBS Code of Practice and Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. You will usually be asked to complete a DBS form at the assessment day, where staff will be on hand to help you. Click here to read the young person’s guide to DBS.[Top]


What if I have an ongoing medical condition?
In order to ensure your continued good health and wellbeing while overseas, all volunteers will need to be medically cleared before setting off. You will be asked to complete a medical questionnaire at the assessment day, where staff will be on hand to help you.[Top]


Will an impairment or disability rule me out?
ICS is committed to inclusion and to meeting the individual needs of those who take part. We’ll do all we can to support your application, so please tell us as much as you can about your specific needs in the relevant section of the application form.[Top]


Do I need to speak the language?
Language skills aren’t a requirement of the scheme. You’ll get some training in-country, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you pick things up. However, it’s important to try and learn at least the basics before you depart.

If you do have language skills then that’s a bonus – you’ll have an advantage when it comes to integrating into the local community, and being able to work in a hands-on way. It would also be very useful if you wanted to put yourself forward as a Team Leader.[Top]


Can I apply if I am not 18-25?

If you are 17, but will be 18 when you go overseas, you are still able to apply. If you are 25, you must still be 25 at the start of your placement.

If you are 23 or over and have experience of supporting young people you can apply to be a Team Leader. There is no maximum age to apply to be a team leader. As a Team Leader, you can spend between 3-12 months living in a developing country supporting groups of ICS volunteers. These positions are recruited against a particular skill set and are based on relevant experience. Just like volunteers, team leaders from the UK are expected to fundraise for the programme before going overseas. It’s a challenging role but also a rewarding one. [Top]