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VSO brings people together to fight poverty.


  • By thinking globally, we can change the world

  • Progress is only possible by working together

  • Knowledge is our most powerful tool

  • People are the best agents of change


VSO’s vision is a world without poverty.

Our History

VSO began in 1958, when Alec and Mora Dickson recruited and sent 16 volunteers in response to a letter from the Bishop of Portsmouth asking for people to teach English overseas.

Much has changed since then. VSO has worked in over 90 countries and has placed over 40,000 volunteers. In 2004, we were voted top international development charity. We’ve gone from being a UK charity to an international one, with recruitment bases in seven countries.

At this very moment, as a result of our efforts, over 14 million children are receiving a better education, almost five million people are accessing better quality HIV and AIDS services, and over a million disabled people are better able to enforce their rights to education and health services.

We’re always looking for new ways to turn human energy and ingenuity into lasting change. We still send professionals to share their skills with their local counterparts, but we’ve embraced a range of methods that allow us to provide whatever kind of help is needed most, including promoting international understanding and action, knowledge brokering and youth exchanges.

We no longer exclusively recruit from the developed world – over 30% of our people now come from within the country of their placement. We also send increasing numbers of people from one developing country to another.

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