What we do

What we do

VSO’s vision is for a world without poverty.

We define poverty as a denial of basic services that everyone, regardless of birth, gender or nationality, deserves access to: 

What is poverty?

The reality of being poor is more complex than not having enough money. 

Our partners, volunteers and donors are committed to the importance of reducing poverty and are striving to ensure the services we've identified are available universally.

All our projects are also informed by belief in the vitality of gender equality, mitigating the effects of a changing climate, and the inclusion of people with disabilities.

Where do we work?

VSO has limited resources, which mean we must focus on the countries and regions with the most poor and marginalised people.

We work in the countries that are the least developed members of our global community; as well as with groups and pockets of people unfairly excluded from the financial and social gains attained by other parts of their society.

VSO continually assesses its portfolio of programmes and partnerships, committed to working with, and embedding volunteers in, the communities where we stand the best chance of making a substantial, long-term impact.

What are we achieving?

VSO is not led by the world’s news crews and TV anchors. Our volunteers work with communities, sharing skills and ideas and collaborating on innovative approaches to reducing poverty, every day of the year.

VSO is in the fight against poverty and inequality for the long haul.

The nature of our work, through volunteering and partnerships, means that we are able to deliver impacts that are sustainable and owned by the communities in which they take place. Last year, this approach meant we were able to help improve the lives of over two million people.

Read our annual reports, or see our achievements by areas of focus.

How do we do it?

We believe that the way to reduce poverty sustainably is by putting people at the heart of development. We do this by:


"Giving our time, knowledge and skills to others, without needing or expecting anything in return, lies at the heart of human endeavour and social action."

Philip Goodwin, CEO of VSO

Find out more about our work with young people in our Youth Capability Statement (PDF)

Our global strategy People First sets out how we aim to achieve our vision of a world without poverty. 

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