Volunteering has long been a key part of development programming, but research, policy-making and popular debate have been dominated by a focus on international volunteers and the systems supporting them. This has meant that the interests of volunteers and communities in and from the global South have not been prioritised. This needs to change if volunteering for development approaches are to provide a demonstrable contribution to development outcomes. Blended volunteering is a flagship approach for VSO in the field, differentiating its work from other volunteer-involving organisations. It brings together volunteers from the local community and other parts of the global South alongside volunteers from the global North with the aim that their collective experiences can be synergised on projects to maximise impact. Volunteers working together is not new, but VSO’s blended approach aims actively to maximise the opportunities such blends can offer. This collaborative research project examines how such blends have operated in three case study locations: Tanzania, Uganda and Nepal. A participatory approach has been utilised to gather qualitative data through workshops and semi-structured interviews with volunteers, community representatives and VSO staff. The findings have been supplemented by a quantitative self-completion questionnaire for volunteers in the three case study countries. This summary sets out our key findings, and the implications these have for policy, practice and our knowledge base.

Social Science Baha collaborated with International Development at Northumbria University to carry out this study.


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