Community Service Programme

Community Service Considerations

When considering getting involved in a community services programme abroad, there are a number of different important considerations that you should take into account. Participating in community services abroad can be a wonderful and fulfilling experience, affording you a break from the everyday routine of working life, and the chance to make a positive contribution to the social well being. An increasing number of UK citizens are getting involved with community service provision, with almost fifty percent volunteering in some capacity at least once a month, and thousands of British travelling to volunteer abroad every year.

When considering getting involved in a community services programme abroad, this article will help to lay out some of the basic questions that you should be considering. It will contain some of the basic background information that will help you to narrow the scope of your search for interesting programmes. Once you have done so, a variety of other resources will help furnish you with the details—the internet is a powerful tool for connecting volunteers and sharing information and experiences.

Pick an organization that matters—to you!

While there are a vast number of different programmes underway in countries around the world, as an individual you are likely to gain the most from a programme that provides services you have a connection to or believe in. To this extent, it’s important to think about the type of community work you want to get involved in. Programmes vary dramatically, but may include:

- Education related programmes, focusing on school building, textbooks, teacher training, English instruction, or other related topics

- Public health related programmes, focusing on disease prevention and control, nutrition awareness and education, sexual health and well-being,

- Social services related programmes, focusing on providing for the elderly or disabled, targeting at risk youth and providing mentorship, working on rural livelihood enhancement, providing micro-credit loans

- Environmental services related programmes, focusing on water and sanitation, pollution reduction, carbon emissions reduction, wildlife protection, and forest regrowth

Regardless of your area of interest, there is almost certainly an organization that engages in the types of community services you wish to participate in.

Determining a location for your work abroad

Another key question is where you plan on getting involved in a programme. Weather is one obvious consideration, as many low and middle income countries where people choose to volunteer have dramatically different climate than the United Kingdom—as such, depending on your tolerance for rain, heat or cold, you may wish to look at different countries.

Security is often another concern for people volunteering in community services. Unfortunately, it’s often the case that the areas in most desperate need of volunteers are areas which are subject to higher instability and risk of crime. Depending on your degree of risk averseness, you need to make sure you are informed about the security risks faced in different countries. A useful resource is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, which will post security warnings and travel advisories for different countries that are updated regularly.