Women farmers tend their crops in Bangladesh | VSO

Our work

We bring about lasting change not by sending aid, but by working through volunteers and partners to empower communities in some of the world’s poorest regions.

Areas of work

A child in a wheelchair at school

Inclusive education

Making sure everyone gets the skills they need to live a fulfilled, dignified life.

Over the past five years we have supported almost 3,500,000 children to access the quality education they deserve.

A doctor with a newborn baby in Ethiopia

Healthy communities

Improving health services for all and empowering the most marginalised to exercise their right to quality care.

Over the past five years we have helped over 3,600,000 people access better healthcare.

Women farmers with a VSO volunteer in Nigeria
©VSO/Onye Ubanatu

Resilient livelihoods

Ensuring people have the skills and opportunities needed to support themselves and their families.

770,000 people have benefited from our work supporting livelihoods over the past five years.

Examples of our work





  • Interactive theatre for justice
  • Improving the health and wellbeing of prison populations in Southern Africa



  • Equipment and skills to reduce newborn deaths



  • Improving the health and wellbeing of prison populations in Southern Africa





Sierra Leone






  • Equipment and skills to reduce newborn deaths



  • Training and Local knowledge (TALK!)
  • Improving the health and wellbeing of prison populations in Southern Africa



  • Improving the health and wellbeing of prison populations in Southern Africa

Our projects

Read about current and former projects that VSO has worked on.

Discover our projects

How we work

Volunteering for development

At VSO, we know that people in developing countries have the power, courage and desire to help themselves. That’s why we use a volunteering for development approach that puts the most marginalised people first.

Volunteering for development approach

Our core approaches

Across all our programmes we focus on building communities that are resilient, inclusive and accountable.

Our three 'core approaches' - social inclusion and gender, resilience, and social inclusion and accountability - are fundamental to our volunteering for development approach, ensuring that the people we work with have the capacity to bring about change in their own lives.

Our core approaches

Working in partnership

We believe progress is only possible when we work together.

Partnerships lie at the root of all the positive change we create. Together, we work on programme development and delivery, research, fundraising and influencing decision-makers.

We work with:

  • 500+ local organisations in 23 countries;
  • governments at all levels;
  • funders, academic institutions and advocacy platforms;
  • corporate partners.

Partnering with VSO

Research and evaluation

A woman sits on a low outdoor wall whilst writing in a log book
VSO/Suraj Ratna Shakya

Evaluating our work is essential. We carry out systematic assessments of all projects, programmes and policies.

Research plays a critical role in helping us understand and improve our work reducing poverty.

Research and evaluations

Influencing and advocacy

A group of Nepali women hold a banner and placards as they protest in front of their remote village, with hills in the background
VSO/Peter Caton

We influence policy at national, regional and international levels. We connect decision makers to the experiences of our volunteers, partners and marginalised people.

Our work around the world, amplifying the voices of the poorest, is making change happen.

Influencing and advocacy

Latest insights

VSO volunteer Rea Torres talks to ICS team leader Torom Justus and Nadja Attianeze Barreto SAP Marcomms volunteer at Buhimba Vocational Training College.
© Georgie Scott/VSO

Volunteering together: Do we really know how it works?

by Matt Baillie Smith, Inge Boudewijn, Owen Boyle, Bianca Fadel, Philip Gibby, Katy Jenkins

VSO’s collaboration with the research team from Northumbria University sets out to interrogate how a blend of different types of volunteering approaches might create an impact.

A 'Big Sister' demonstrates how to make sanitary towels to a group of women
VSO/Omar Havana

Nothing about us, without us

by Sosina Yirga Meheretu, Anne Kahuria

How youth platforms lead to more inclusive pandemic responses.