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60 years in 60 photos

Archive photography shows six decades of fighting poverty, in under a minute.

Sixty years ago, the first batch of VSO volunteers started their placements in Sarawak (present day Borneo), Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia and Cameroon.

From the 30th of May to International Volunteers Day on the 5th of December, VSO will be celebrating six decades of progress and impact made through our incredible volunteers.

Thanks to our supporters more than 76,000 volunteers have since made a difference to millions of people living in poverty in more than 120 countries.


Watch the video now:

60 years in 60 photos

The changing face of volunteering for development

The first group of volunteers were British school leavers.

Today, our volunteers are just as likely to come from Kenya, the Philippines or India. Now they are made up of a blend of volunteer types, including technical experts from fields like education and health, business professionals on corporate volunteering schemes with partners like IBM, as well as people engaged by VSO to volunteer in their own communities.

One of the first VSO volunteers at a school in Ghana VSO
VSO youth volunteering with ICS VSO

Volunteering with VSO has changed a lot over the past 60 years.

More relevant than ever

Since 1958, the world has changed dramatically. Overall, global poverty has been cut in half.

But today, 700 million people – nearly 10% of the world’s population - still live in poverty. Poverty persists in hard-to-reach areas and among marginalised groups that have been left behind in development – such as women and girls, people with disabilities and minority ethnic groups.

Research shows that volunteering is an effective way of tackling this poverty and marginalisation.

Making a difference

Thanks to your support, we're able to deploy the right kind of volunteers needed to improve education, health and livelihoods, anywhere in the world.

Thanks to you, we've achieved so much over the past 60 years. Together, we can do so much more.

Get involved in #VSO60

Over the next six months activities and events will be taking place around the world to highlight the impact that VSO volunteers have made over the last 60 years.

Alongside return volunteer reunions, and events showing the contribution we make in the lives of people in the countries where we work, we have launched a picture tagging project on our Volunteers Facebook page.

We have posted the first batch of 100 archive pictures, including some of the images in the 60 Years in 60 Pictures video above.

We are asking our current and return volunteers to help us  identify the volunteers and other people in these pictures and the projects they are working on.

Find out more about VSO at 60

Have you volunteered with VSO? Find out ways you can stay involved.

Whether you volunteered sixty years ago or returned six days ago, we’d love you to stay in touch and remain part of the VSO community.