VSO volunteers in VSO Nepal's Sisters for sisters project

Before you start volunteering

Helping you get ready to volunteer with us.

Medical clearance and support

If your application is successful, the next stage is to be cleared by our medical team. This process is completely independent from your selection.

David Atherton with his students Diana Liphana and Stevien Saiwala. David, THET programme VSO volunteer at work in St Lukes Hospital, Zomba district, Malawi
Our expert medical team will make sure the project is suitable for you.

Our medical team are experts in the health of volunteers working in settings with limited resources. They’ll review whether the project is medically suitable for you, based on a risk assessment of your health.

If you have any questions about this process, you can contact the medical team in confidence at medical@vsoint.org.


Our training programme focuses on broadening your understanding of international development, and preparing you for living and working in a new environment, if applicable.

There's also language training, if needed.

Training is delivered through a mix of online and residential courses, depending on where you're from and where you will be volunteering.

How long it will be before you start

It can usually take anything between three and 12 months from applying to starting to volunteer. 

Each case is different, and the time it takes to move through the process depends on multiple factors including:

  • your personal availability and circumstances,
  • whether you’re applying individually or as a couple,
  • your skills and our current demand for them,
  • the nature of the role itself,
  • the visa and work permit processes for your placement country, if applicable.

If you’re volunteering abroad, the longest part of the process is often waiting for visas and work permits to be issued.

Support whilst you’re volunteering

Find out more

Volunteer Wim Lancsweert and local colleague Heng Eak sit at a desk together, discussing plans for improving education system administration
VSO/Thomas Roos

Support whilst you volunteer

Keeping you safe, healthy and happy.

Meet VSO in London

Once you've finished volunteering

When you finish volunteering with us, you'll find that you're part of a global community of VSO volunteers.

volunteer prepares to set up the disaster risk management committee (DRMC) signboard at Kyatkathone Village,Kyike Ma Yaw Township, Mon state, Myanmar
VSO/Nyan Zay Htet

Volunteering opportunities

Our current roles for expert volunteers in Africa and Asia.