International Citizen Service

Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament for Reading West, last week met with three local volunteers to share their experiences with the International Citizen Service (ICS) and discuss their work tackling poverty in some of the poorest parts of the world.

The three volunteers, Penny Kapere, Charlie Baines and Meme Mzari, all completed three month placements in Africa and Asia through the ICS programme. During the three months the volunteers spent time working alongside local volunteers on projects that focused on a number of issues, ranging from sexual health and youth participation in politics, to climate change and sustainable livelihoods.

The ICS scheme is open to all 18-25 year olds to volunteer and is funded by the UK Government. Young people do not need to pay or have any qualifications or work experience to take part. Those aged 23-35 can also apply to be ICS team leaders in the UK after returning from their placements. ICS volunteers complete an ‘Action at Home’ course by taking part in an event or activity which directly contributes to their local community.

Alok Sharma said: “I enjoyed meeting my constituents Penny, Charlie and Meme and hearing about their great experiences on the International Citizenship Service programme. All three of them can be very proud of the difference they made through their project work. ICS is a great opportunity for young people to get fully involved in community based projects abroad, often helping some of the poorest communities, while gaining indispensable skills and life experiences. I urge young people to look it up and seriously consider applying.”

Felicity Morgan, Director of ICS, said: “It is great to get the support of passionate and influential MPs like Alok Sharma. As an organisation working on the frontline against poverty, VSO sees how people across Britain play an important role in delivering UK aid; from the NHS and Army helping end the Ebola crisis, to the millions who donate, and the contribution we all make through taxes, together we are all making the world a fairer, safer place.”

Ms Morgan continued: “We’re passionate about supporting young people from across the UK and using their energy to tackle poverty overseas while also making a contribution to their communities back home. Our experience of working with young people shows they really can take on the big issues and make a difference in people’s lives.”

Photo: Alok Sharma with ICS Volunteers Penny Kapere, Charlie Baines and Meme Mzari