Rory Stewart ​MP ​has urged young people in his constituency to consider applying to the UK Government funded International Citizen Service (ICS) programme, after meeting four local young people from his constituency ​who took the plunge and volunteered overseas through the scheme.

Rory met with ​Bryony Crosby, Steven Lumsden, Nicola Hullock and Laura Cole ​on Friday to talk about their 12 week placements through the ICS programme in Cambodia, Tanzania, South Africa and Uganda respectively. After discussing their ICS experiences, ​he is now calling on other young people to take advantage of the life-changing opportunity offered through the programme​, and is offering to help establish a constituency-wide group for returned volunteers​.

Rory said: “It was truly inspiring to meet these four brilliant young volunteers and to hear about their experiences on the ICS programme. Bryony, Nicola, Steven and Laura are inspiring and energetic advocates for the amazing work that British aid money is making possible in some of the poorest communities around the world. ”

All UK ICS volunteers live and work alongside young people from the countries where they are placed and contribute to programmes and projects that last longer than just the 12 weeks that they are in the country. ICS support means that a diverse range of UK young people can take the opportunity to fight poverty overseas, while also gaining indispensable skills as well as making a contribution to their own communities once they return. ICS volunteers are passionate about making positive change, and I urge young people to look it up and seriously consider applying”.​

Bryony, 20, and Steven, 19, worked in partnership with local volunteers in Cambodia and Tanzania on education projects run by international development organisation VSO, as part of their ICS placements. Both Bryony and Steven worked in teams of volunteers from the UK alongside national volunteers from those countries, to enable young people in the host communities to gain essential skills and knowledge on topics ranging from using ICT systems to improving their awareness of HIV and AIDS.

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Laura, 22, worked with budding entrepreneurs in Uganda on her ICS placement, volunteering in early 2016 through partner organisation Balloon Ventures. Nicola meanwhile volunteered with the Coaching for Hope programme in South Africa, enabling young people to make healthy decisions about their future by training and passing on information about HIV/AIDS risks to local football coaches and youth workers.

ICS volunteers, aged 18-25, work on long-term projects that seek to help bring about an end to poverty in some of the poorest communities in the world. The scheme offers young people the chance to gain valuable new skills while working on projects that make a genuine difference to the people they work with and their communities. Those aged 23-35 can also apply to be ICS team leaders.

The ICS scheme is funded by the UK Government, so young people don’t need cash, qualifications or work experience to take part, just the desire to make a difference to the lives of some of the world’s poorest communities.  If accepted onto a placement, volunteers also commit to take part in an ‘Action at Home’ where they take part in or organise an event or activity where they directly contribute to their local communities.

Felicity Morgan, Director of ICS, said:

“ICS is all about encouraging young people to become more active in their communities when they return to the UK, so it’s great to see that Bryony, Steven, Nicola and Laura are already using their ICS experiences to make an impact at home. Young people have the passion and the energy to change the world – well done for getting stuck in!”

To find out more about ICS or to apply, visit www.volunteerics.org.

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