Short Term Volunteer Projects in Europe
Our International Volunteer Projects are a unique form of volunteering, bringing together people from different countries, cultures and backgrounds to live and work together on short-term projects with local communities.
The projects are designed to assist and encourage local initiatives, to break down barriers between people, to develop international understanding and contribute to a more just and peaceful society.
The work varies greatly, examples include environmental conservation, work with refugees and community arts projects. As a volunteer on our projects you only need to work as much as you are able.
The Programme is made up of four elements: preparation, projects, evaluation and using your experience.
How do I find a project?
Check out our selected projects! Our dedicated staff have put together a list of projects which focus on our core values including solidarity, environmentalism and human rights.
Our international branches have arranged additional projects to these listed on our site, if you’re interested in finding our more, please contact our Programmes Officer Eiméar
How do I apply for a project? Go to Application forms and procedures and follow the instructions.
The main themes which VSI and SCI work with are:
- Anti-Racism and work with Ethnic Minorities
- North - South Solidarity
- Disarmament and Peace
- Work with People with Disabilities
- Community Support
- Ecological, Environmental and Agricultural
- Projects Focussing on Gender
- Social Inclusion
- Arts, Culture and Local History
- Ideology and Spirituality
Experience and qualifications
The most important qualities you need are enthusiasm, flexibility and willingness to experience something completely new. All volunteers must be 18 or over. You don’t need any skills or qualifications for our projects apart from a s small number that require certain skills e.g. language; this is stated clearly in the project description. The success of the project depends largely on the willingness of individual volunteers to involve themselves in the group-life by 'mucking in', communicating and making friends with other volunteers and in the local community.
Costs - Small project fees apply but NO fundraising is needed to volunteer on our projects
- Food and accommodation are provided while on the individual projects.
- Volunteers pay for their own travel to the country and internal travel to/from the projects.
- Volunteers are covered under a basic SCI Insurance policy.
- Volunteers cover any visa fees.
- Volunteers pay a project fee to VSI of €105 (for unwaged and students) or €150 (waged) (costs for 1 project). More details
- Some of our partner organisations e.g. Iceland and Estonia, charge an extra fee which the volunteers pay on arrival. This will be stated in the project description.
Volunteers organise and pay for their own travel arrangements to and from the project. As our projects this year may be affected by COVID-19 restrictions that can change at short-notice, we recommend waiting to book your travel until we have confirmation form the hosting organisation and/or booking refundable or flexible tickets where possible.
Please note, neither VSI, our branches, partners or SCI International are liable for any costs due to project cancellations or changes arising from the impact of COVID-19.
Food and accommodation
Food and accommodation are provided free of charge during the project. Usually the group will share the tasks of cooking and cleaning on a rota basis, so bring your favourite recipes with you!
Living conditions are usually basic and shared e.g. sleeping in dorm-style rooms in a hostel.
Leisure and free time
An important part of every project is how the group organises its social activities. After the day's work there will be plenty of time to socialise, visit local areas, talk, play music, sing, write postcards, swim, learn local phrases... A lot of activities are decided by the group together.
Study element/educational component
There will usually be time set aside to learn more about the issues relevant to the project e.g. on an environmental project there could be a workshop on climate justice. If there is a study/ educational component to the project, volunteers are asked to inform themselves about the issues before going to the project and also to bring any relevant information etc. in order to participate fully in the discussions.
Speaking other languages always helps when travelling but the language used on most projects is English. Certain projects have specific language requirements which are specified in the descriptions.
Being part of an international group
Each project will have a mixture of participants from many countries. Volunteers will find themselves working and living with people who are of different nationalities, ages, attitudes, backgrounds and cultures. Sensitivity to other people in the group is very important. Native English speakers should be careful not to talk too fast so everybody can understand them. Volunteers on the projects should be tolerant and open towards new experiences. Another part of the group experience is a commitment to work out decisions and problems together. On many projects there will be one or two people who act as 'Leaders' or 'Co-ordinators', usually selected and trained by SCI branches or partner organisations.
If you have any queries about volunteering with VSI please contact Eiméar
Interested in reading more? Check out the volunteer stories of our past international volunteers here
Volunteer stories from the Europe, North America, Australia & Japan Programme
- "Wikipedia for Peace" Project: Anne Payne Story VSI and SCI Austria Project for Peace and Social Justice
- A Personal Reflection on Volunteering - Alyesha Bartley, Online SCI volunteer with SEEDS Iceland Read Alyesha's reflection piece on volunteering for the President's Award (ALIVE certificate) with NUIG!
- A video of Stephen's experience with VSI Watch a conversation of Stephen and Mateja about the experience in KNP 2016
- An environmental adventure in Killarney National Park
- Cana Communities to Support Homeless People in Australia Poverty and social injustice, Refugees, immigrants and ethnic minorities
- Coordinating a project in Killarney National Park Sangha's experience of coordinating a VSI International Volunteer Project in Ireland
- Dublin Gives Way to Bikes The VSI initiative which sought to challenge the car dominated transport culture in Ireland
- Environmentally Aware Online Volunteer Project - Holly Power A VSI and SEEDS Iceland online project about the environment and sustainable solutions
- Environmentally Aware Online Volunteer Project - Senka Nenadov Read the online volunteer experience of VSI's very own ESC volunteer, Senka in which she learnt about the environment and sustainable solutions
- Faskruosfjorour, Iceland Environment protection
- Fighting Discrimination and Racism in the Ukraine Antiracism, antifascism, remembrance, International solidarity
- Glebe House in Northern Ireland Peace and disarmament, Community life
- International Holocaust Remembrance Day - Felicity's story ‘To Remember’: a volunteer’s experience of the SCI-Poland workcamp at Chełmno, August 2015
- International Migrant Day - Ben Murray's story "...the best decision I ever made was to reject a natural prejudice in favour of seeing something with my own eyes"
- International Volunteer Projects in Ireland 2015 Irish Projects 2015
- Letter from Iceland Environment protection
- Mixed age project Switzerland Community life, International solidarity
- My Online IVP Experience: Searching for Traces of Forced Labour: a Digital Photography Project Read all about Yvonne's online volunteer experience with SCI Germany
- My Time in VSI - Colm Dunne
- SDGs and Ireland’s role in climate action Our volunteer Sangha wrote an informative piece about Ireland's SDG progress and role in climate action!
- Sharing Lena's Story as a Project Coordinator in Killarney National Park: First Priority: Having Fun – VSI project in Killarney National Park (2018)
- Sowing the Seeds 1965 to 1969 in VSI
- Study Visit to Russia Peace and disarmament, International solidarity
- Supporting local Red Cross and Maintaining a Farm - Two projects in Iceland International solidarity, Environment protection
- Teaching in Azerbaijan Children and youth
- The early days of VSI
- Toyzone: A project ahead of its time
- Volunteering On 2 Wheels Community work in Serbia
- What does sustainability mean to you? Read Sangha's personal reflections on volunteering for a more sustainable future
- Wikipedia for Peace: Climate Justice - Online Volunteer Project SCI Switzerland and Wikimedia Switzerland Project for Peace and Social Justice
- Wood and Straw Festival Project in Serbia Art, culture and local history