UK Government announces a new £27m partnership with VSO to empower people living in low-income countries

The UK Government announced a new £27 million partnership with VSO, the UK’s leading overseas volunteering charity, today (Saturday, June 25), to empower people living in low-income countries across the Commonwealth and other countries to take control of their futures.

The Active Citizenship Through Inclusive Volunteering and Empowerment (ACTIVE) program aims to reach 2.5 million people in 18 countries by mobilizing marginalized groups, such as women, young people, and people with disabilities, to take action on issues that are important to them and their communities.

This funding will build on the volunteering for development model to help strengthen locally led organizations and create a culture of volunteerism, while also strengthening the capacity of the UK’s partner countries, which include Rwanda, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Eswatini, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Tanzania, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Bangladesh, to respond to their citizens’ demands.

It will involve hospital twinning agreements between the UK and our partner nations to exchange skills and learning, notably on topics such as children cancer and family planning. Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust and Rwanda’s Nyagatare District Hospital are already collaborating, and other collaborations with hospitals throughout the UK are planned.

Education collaborations will also be a key component of the ACTIVE initiative, including the Numeracy for All project, which will assist teachers in developing and implementing low- and no-cost teaching aids that promote active and playful arithmetic learning.

The Minister of State for South and Central Asia, North Africa, the United Nations, and the Commonwealth, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, stated:

“The new ACTIVE programme will be a unique opportunity to use British expertise through volunteering to support our partner countries to take the lead in their own development.

“By unleashing the potential of individuals and communities through voluntary work, while supporting the best locally led organisations to meet the priorities of the people and communities they benefit, we can bring about lasting, inclusive change.

“I am delighted that the UK Government can take their partnership with VSO to the next level through this exciting new programme.

“The FCDO Minister for the Commonwealth announced the Partnership for Change at a roundtable with Rwandan civil society whilst at CHOGM in Kigali.”

ACTIVE will build on the success of VSO’s FCDO-funded (70.5 million pounds) Volunteering for Development programme, which concluded in March 2022. During the five-year initiative, FCDO worked with over 350 local partner organizations and over 6,500 volunteers in 24 countries to increase access to health, education, and livelihood services for 5 million people.

VSO’s CEO, Dr. Philip Goodwin, stated:

“Volunteering for development has helped to make the UK a global leader and authority in quality and inclusive volunteering practices that put volunteers and the most marginalised people at the centre of the influencing change in their own lives

“The ACTIVE grant will enable VSO to continue to support national and community-based volunteers to be agents for change.”


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