The government will pay for up to 7,000 young people to take a gap year by volunteering abroad over the next three years.
The International Citizen Service (ICS) will expand after a successful pilot year saw 576 volunteers from the UK work on projects including teaching, raising awareness of HIV and working on water conservation.
Privileges such as flights, visas, insurance, vaccinations, food, accommodation and an allowance would be paid from July for 18-25-year-old applicants who will be paired with young people from a developing country and will be living and working together.
Andrew Mitchell, the Secretary of State for International Development, said: “I am delighted to announce that we are extending this opportunity, providing a further 7,000 placements over the next three years. This will give many more young people who might otherwise not be able to afford it the chance of a life-changing experience.
“They will gain new perspectives, greater confidence and higher aspirations. They will also make a real difference to the lives of people in developing countries”.
The ICS aims to have a real and lasting development impact on sustainable development projects, help volunteers learn key life-skills and instil a life-long commitment to development into active citizens.
Brian Rockliffe, the Director of ICS, said: “The ICS programme will develop thousands of active global citizens, both in the UK and in developing countries who know the power of community-based volunteering and will build on that learning throughout their lives.
“This dynamic global network of young, motivated individuals will continue to effect positive change in their communities and make a lasting, valuable contribution to international development and the fight against poverty”.
Volunteers will be working in some countries such as Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Bangladesh and El Salvador with projects running for between three months and a year.