Our International Volunteer Projects (IVP) are a unique form of volunteering that bring together people from around the world to work on short-term projects with local communities. Projects usually last 2 weeks and the type of work involved varies greatly. Volunteers will get the chance to live and work in a diverse environment with people from different cultures and backgrounds, gaining experience and understanding of the day-to-day lives of people from other parts of the world.
We believe that a greater awareness of global issues and a deeper understanding of people will help to create an international culture that is more peaceful, open-minded, and responsible for its actions. Our network of volunteers helps us to promote our vision by living and promoting a culture of peace, social justice, and sustainable development worldwide.
As a volunteer on one of our projects, you will only need to work as much as you are able. VSI hopes that anyone interested in contributing to our vision will find a project in our list of diverse and exciting database international opportunities.
Please note, we are currently sending volunteers only to projects in Europe and Ireland. If you would like to receive updates when we resume sending volunteers to the Global South, please sign up to our mailing list.
How do I find a project?
Please note: When you click on this link you will leave the VSI website and go to the database, search engine and application pages of SCI (VSI is the Irish branch of SCI). The projects listed on the database are managed by various SCI branches and partners across Europe, so the project titles and descriptions are generally written by non-native English speakers so please excuse us if some of them are hard-to-understand or use unusual language! Some of the descriptions mention an additional fee (of €50.00) when applying through non-SCI organisations. VSI is an SCI branch and these fees are included in the VSI project fee.
If you would like more info on a project, please contact Annabelle.
Selected projects focusing on our core values
Our staff have put together a list of our favourite projects from our international database which focus on our core values. We add new projects to this list regularly so check back here, follow us on social media, or sign up to our mailing list.
The main themes 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 to participate, apart from a small number of projects that require certain skills, e.g. language. This will be stated clearly in the project description. As a volunteer on one of our projects, you will only need to work as much as you are able.
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 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 from €55 - €155, which includes membership with VSI for one year.
- Please note that 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.
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 open to 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 our programmes officer, Annabelle.
Interested in reading more? Check out our VSI volunteer stories, written by our past volunteers.
For more information on what life is like on one of our projects, check out our short piece: "Volunteer life on an International Volunteer Project"