The government will offer young adults the chance to volunteer for projects in some of the poorest countries in the world in an extension of its National Citizen Service programme, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced.
In his speech at the Conservative Party conference, Cameron said the new programme, called International Citizen Service, would "give thousands of our young people, those who couldn’t otherwise afford it, the chance to see the world and serve others".
He compared the scheme with the US Peace Corps programme, saying the latter had "inspired a generation of young people to act".
The scheme, which will be run by the Department for International Development in conjunction with a group of as yet unnamed volunteering organisations, will be aimed at 18 to 22-year-olds and applicants will be means tested.
A pilot programme will run in 2011/12 and will be backed by funding of "up to £10m" in the first year of operation, a DfID statement said.
A thousand young people and 250 "more experienced" people will be offered the chance to take part in the programme in the first year.
Young volunteers will work on social action projects for three month periods, and some older volunteers with suitable experience will be offered placements that could run for up to two years.
Volunteers will be offered training before going overseas and will be encouraged to share their experiences with local groups on their return.
From 2013, the programme will look to include young people who have completed the UK-based National Citizen Service programme for 16-year-olds.