A VSO volunteer and a child share a moment

60 years in 60 photos

Archive photography shows six decades of fighting poverty, in under a minute.

Sixty years ago, the first batch of VSO volunteers started their placements in Sarawak (present day Borneo), Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia and Cameroon.

From the 30th of May to International Volunteers Day on the 5th of December, VSO will be celebrating six decades of progress and impact made through our incredible volunteers.

Thanks to our supporters more than 76,000 volunteers have since made a difference to millions of people living in poverty in more than 120 countries.


Watch the video now:

60 years in 60 photos

The changing face of volunteering for development

The first group of volunteers were British school leavers.

Today, our volunteers are just as likely to come from Kenya, the Philippines or India. Now they are made up of a blend of volunteer types, including technical experts from fields like education and health, business professionals on corporate volunteering schemes with partners like IBM, as well as people engaged by VSO to volunteer in their own communities.

One of the first VSO volunteers at a school in Ghana
VSO youth volunteering with ICS
Volunteering with VSO has changed a lot over the past 60 years.

More relevant than ever

Since 1958, the world has changed dramatically. Overall, global poverty has been cut in half.

But today, 700 million people – nearly 10% of the world’s population - still live in poverty. Poverty persists in hard-to-reach areas and among marginalised groups that have been left behind in development – such as women and girls, people with disabilities and minority ethnic groups.

Research shows that volunteering is an effective way of tackling this poverty and marginalisation.

Making a difference

Thanks to your support, we're able to deploy the right kind of volunteers needed to improve education, health and livelihoods, anywhere in the world.

Thanks to you, we've achieved so much over the past 60 years. Together, we can do so much more.

Are you a returned Volunteer?

Whether you volunteered sixty years ago or returned six days ago, we’d love you to stay in touch and remain part of the VSO community.

Read more


60 years in Nigeria

60 years ago VSO set out to fight poverty globally. Today, the work of volunteers means there is much to celebrate in Nigeria. VSO CEO Philip Goodwin joins in.

A volunteer's life in Karamoja, Uganda

Marie Moreau from Dublin, who has just returned from volunteering with VSO Ireland as an Inspection Advisor in Uganda, talks about her experience helping to improve and extend the country's education system.

VSO volunteer John Stedman was the first western teacher at Bhutan's only technical college
John Stedman

Six years in Bhutan

VSO volunteer John Stedman was the first western teacher at Bhutan's only technical college