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International development charity VSO is today launching an ambitious campaign to recruit 500 exceptional individuals to take up the VSO challenge in 2010. 

VSO is a charity that works through professional volunteers, matching skilled individuals to placements where their expertise can be used to improve the lives of those most affected by poverty.  Its current recruitment drive is aimed at a range of professionals with backgrounds in education, health, and business, including doctors, midwives, small business advisers, fundraisers, primary teachers, education managers, agricultural specialists, and community workers. 

Individuals who take up the VSO challenge will work alongside local colleagues to improve public services such as healthcare and education, support those living with HIV and AIDS and develop business and employment opportunities that help lift many thousands of people out of poverty.

VSO placements usually last between one to two years and focus on achieving long-term change for poor communities.  Volunteers are involved in a range of different activities from improving education systems so that generations of children will get a better start in life, training local midwives, doctors and nurses in new and life-saving skills and helping women and those who are most disadvantaged to set up businesses so they can earn an independent living.

Commenting on the recruitment drive, VSO UK Director Judith Brodie said:  “VSO volunteers are exceptional individuals.  Not only do they have the professional skills that are so crucially needed in developing countries, they have the personal qualities needed to work in challenging environments and mentor others.  At this time of year we all look to make big changes.  VSO is great opportunity to transform not just your own life - but the lives of thousands of people living in poverty around the world.”

Last January Helen (41) and Dan Satterthwaite (44) from Bishops Stortford took the plunge and applied to be VSO volunteers.  Nine months later they touched down in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia in Southern Africa, where they are now working for Zambia Relief and Development Foundation, an organisation that supports people affected by natural disasters like droughts, floods and disease. 

Helen offers fundraising support whilst Dan is improving the way the organisation runs its relief programmes.  The work they are doing means that when natural disasters occurs Zambia Relief and Development Foundation will have the funds and expertise it needs to save more lives. 

Offering advice to anyone considering volunteering, Dan says: 

“Volunteering with VSO allowed us to step out of the rat race and do something extraordinary.  It’s very different, very challenging but immensely rewarding. You won't regret the time you spend working in a developing country with VSO. "

Follow Helen and Dan’s volunteering experience at http://www.youtube.com/user/DanandHeleninZambia

Editor's notes

For further information or to speak to a VSO volunteer or spokesperson please contact Louise Hill or Rachel Trayner on 020 8780 7313/ 7265 or email press@vso.org.uk