Evaluation of DFID’s International Citizen Service (ICS) Pilot Stage

The 18 month pilot programme, International Citizen Service (ICS) is supporting young British citizens to contribute to development through international volunteering and generating knowledge to inform future youth volunteering programmes. A core aim of the pilot is that the cohort of volunteers is representative of UK society and a means test has been included in the recruitment and selection process to support broad participation.

A consortium of 6 agencies led by VSO are implementing the pilot programme and each is testing different approaches to the volunteer placements and the engagement of volunteers in the UK. The Programme Coordinating Body (PCB) manages the programme and ensures that each stage of the volunteer’s journey is quality assured through the creation of core standards.

The volunteer journey includes a placement of 10 – 12 weeks in a developing country and is expected to generate impacts in three key areas: on the volunteers themselves, development impact in the placement community and increased global citizenship activity in the UK. Indicators for the logframe need to reflect this more clearly at output and purpose level and weighting of each area would clarify both DFID priorities and areas where further work is needed to create the impacts and demonstrate change.

The Mid Term Review (MTR) was undertaken before the first cohort of volunteers had returned to the UK, limiting assessment of impact and effectiveness, but initial findings suggest that the overall theory of change is valid and field visits provided clear evidence (from volunteers, host organisations and agency staff) of profound and positive emerging impacts upon volunteers as a result of their participation in the ICS programme. It is important to ensure that on-going lesson learning and emerging criteria for good practice are fed into the roll-out programme, starting in March 2012.

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