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ICYE Long-term Programmes

ICYE’s main programme is the long-term exchange of young people, aged 18 to 30, who want to work as volunteers in a wide variety of voluntary work placements with or without qualifications, live in another country with a family or a in a residential project. Opportunities for older volunteers are available in most countries.

Each year ICYE exchanges over 400 long-term volunteers between different countries for periods ranging from six to twelve months.

The ICYE Experience

To be a volunteer with ICYE means to integrate in the life and work of the host organisation and wider community. Volunteers are encouraged and supported to get involved in the planning and managing of distinct activities and to take on responsibilities according to their skills and interests, as well as the needs of the project. An important aspect of the voluntary service experience is the volunteer’s active participation in the life of the community in which they live and work.

Voluntary service placements offered by ICYE include social work projects with children and young people at risk, with the elderly, the disabled, health projects, support to human rights organisations, peace associations, ecological projects, work with women’s groups, migrant workers’ support groups, fair-trade shops, and solidarity projects.

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ICYE in the World

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ICYE exchanges are open to all young people between the ages of 18 and 30 (and above 30 in certain countries), with or without qualifications, after secondary school or during your university studies or (un)employment, ICYE can offer you a life-changing experience!

There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ volunteer. ICYE volunteers should be:

  • flexible, communicative, and open to new experiences,
  • willing to learn new skills
  • broad-minded and self-reliant
  • committed to inter-cultural understanding

ICYE Volunteers don’t need:

  • Specialised skills or work experience
  • Existing foreign language skills
  • Experience of international travel

Volunteers with disabilities are asked to submit applications early – at least six months prior to the start of the programme. This enables ICYE to make appropriate arrangements with the National Committee in the country of your choice. Please note that Personal Assistants must be recruited and funded by you, or an appropriate organisation.

To find out about the type of voluntary service opportunities offered in the distinct countries, have a look at the ICYE Database of Long-Term Voluntary Service Placements, where you can browse through more than 800 available organisations.

To find out more about: the destinations you may be interested in; whether or not you can apply for one or more specific host projects; the price and other conditions of participation, please contact the ICYE office in your home country or check the website of ICYE in your country using the drop down list on the home page.

Before Your Departure

Our worldwide network of ICYE staff and co-workers carefully select and prepare programme participants before departure. Each ICYE national committee organises information and recruitment days and a “pre-departure weekend” where you can meet fellow-volunteers and share excitement, expectations and fears about the experience abroad.

Your Stay Abroad

Upon arrival you will attend a one-week “orientation camp” during which you will have the chance to learn more about the people and culture of the host country, the local ICYE and your work placement. You will also receive an introductory language course. You will live with a family or in a shared flat, and work as a volunteer in a local project for 6 or 12 months.

The “mid-year camp” is a chance to catch up with other volunteers and evaluate your first six months with the ICYE hosting committee. This may be combined with a conference on an issue relevant to your host country.

The last official meeting for volunteers is the “end-of-stay evaluation”, where you will discuss your experiences and prepare to return home – which is often the hardest part! After the evaluation you have a free month before returning to your home country. Most volunteers take this opportunity to travel and see more of the country.

Returning Home

Upon your return home, your sending national committee will organise a “returnees camp” together with other returning volunteers as well as incoming international volunteers. You will also be invited to join ICYE’s membership scheme in your country that will give you access to national and international events, meetings and seminars.

Erasmus+, European Solidarity Corps, and Governmental Volunteer Programmes

Since 1996, ICYE has been directly involved, both at the international and national level, in launching and implementing the European Voluntary Service under the Youth in Action Programme (2007-2013), and as of 2014 the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, particularly the Key Action 2 Capacity building in the field of Youth, a programme funded by the European Commission (EC) to build capacity of youth and volunteering organisations, and promote youth work, youth mobility and international voluntary service. Since 2019, ICYE member organisations in Europe are also implementing European Solidarity Corps projects, which aim to foster solidarity in European society, engaging young people and organisations in accessible and high-quality solidarity activities.

ICYE is also involved at various levels in the implementation and further development of government funded volunteer programmes such as the “Weltwärts” programme of the German Ministry of Cooperation and Development.