Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) began in 1958, when Alec and Mora Dickson recruited and sent 16 British volunteers overseas in response to a letter from the Bishop of Portsmouth asking for people to teach English in Borneo.
Much has changed since then. Over the past six decades, we've worked in over 90 countries, with more than 80,000 volunteers, supporting 50,000,000 people.
We’ve gone from being a UK charity to an international one, and today, VSO is a truly global organisation. We recruit skilled volunteers from all over the world, and from all sectors of society, including business leaders, parliamentarians and young people.
Currently, over 30% of our people come from within the country of their placement. We also send increasing numbers of people from one developing country to another.
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 sharing and youth exchanges.
Structure and governance
Our International Board and Executive Board set the strategic direction of VSO in accordance with legal and regulatory guidelines.