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The International Citizens Service is a UK Government funded programme for people aged 18-25 with an ambition to make a difference to all cultures around the globe. People from all over the UK come together to work as team to help develop some of the poorest communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America. For 10-12 weeks’ participants work alongside local volunteers at their chosen destination; participants live with a host family within the local community.


This rewarding opportunity has captured the interest of one of our own NCS staff and she has decided to get involved with this incredible programme: not only to help develop those countries less fortunate, but to develop her own skills. Jess is currently on her gap year and aspiring to go to University in September, what better way to spend her time then to help minimize poverty as much as possible in Kenya. This worth while experience will certainly be beneficial in making her stand out as an individual when it comes to applying to the University of her choice.


Jess will be helping to tackle poverty in the informal sector; the informal sector refers to micro-businesses, the businesses that are run by young entrepreneurs trying to make a living. Whilst immersing herself in the Kenya’s culture, Jess has said she is ‘excited to learn about how different the way of life is there, “I’m extremely intrigued for the culture shock I will receive. I know I will go through a low stage whilst I’m there, a stage where I will struggle with how basic things are but this doesn’t phase me at all. I’m going away to do something that can literally change someone else’s life, and their families”.


But before Jess can seize this opportunity, she first has to partake in her volunteer training. On the training a return volunteer came to meet the participants with a passion for helping those in poverty; and did a Q & A. Jess was intrigued to find out more about the experience so asked the return volunteer “what they found the most rewarding part of their journey?” The volunteer talked of an entrepreneur she had worked with who had a small business delivering water to the surrounding communities. At the start of the programme the entrepreneur was making under £7 a day, by the end of the programme his profit had increased by 400% – the entrepreneur was then able to send their three children to school.


“These are the moments I’m excited for, I want to impact people’s life in a good way and I want to make a long-term difference”.


Jess has undertaken a multitude of fundraising activities to raise money for her ICS experience. Bake sales, leg waxing events at work and her final activity takes place Friday the 9th March with a quiz in Harrogate. If you are available why not pop along, learn more about the ICS programme and help support Jess in her project.