Our History


1953 Floods devastate the coast of Holland killing over 1800 people. The United Nations Assocation sends 15 volunteers to help with relief efforts. Why did the UK send help? Because storms had battered the east coast of Britain in 1952, and the Netherlands sent volunteers to help. View the rest of our history in the page below.

View our 60 years publication (pdf, 2.5 MB)

1950s The UNA's volunteers start helping post-war refugees across Europe to build houses and rebuild their lives.
As late as 1955, over 70,000 people were still living in refugee camps.
Read more about our work in the 1950s

1960s This was the UN's 'Decade of Development'.
The UNA's volunteer programme becomes known as United Nations Association International Service (UNAIS). Our work in camps with refugees and immigrants grows rapidly across the UK, Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Read more about our work in the 1960s

1970s We work more closely with the UN. Our volunteers are placed in UN offices overseas, helping maintain support in former British colonies.
Read more about our work in the 1970s

1980s This is the start of our working relationship with the British government. Overseas Aid funding enables us to start placing skilled Development Workers on long-term placements to provide technical support to local people and organisations.
Read more about our work in the 1980s

1990s We continue placing Development Workers to share skills in areas such as healthcare, irrigation, education, and law.
In 1998 we become an independent charity, and began to use 'International Service' as our working name.
Read more about our work in the 1990s

2000s Funding from the British government's Department for International Development enables us to place Development Workers to share technical skills, and also work on stregnthening the sustainability and capacities of local groups and NGOs.
Read more about our work in the 2000s

2011 We become a partner in the International Citizen Service scheme for young people, and we now involve 18-25 year olds in providing support to local partners and people.

2015 As of March 2015 we have created Global Citizens of over 1200 young people; 871 UK young people have made a lasting difference in the occupied Palestinian territories, Burkina Faso, Bolivia and Ghana where they worked alongside 366 in country volunteers

We have come a long way since we were founded in 1953

Where we work

What we do