VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas)

VSO, the world leading international development and volunteering organisation, is a charity Paul has worked with for almost a decade. Paul has set up Challenge Events programmes that have raised $4.5m for VSO by sending people to Kilimanjaro, Everest Base Camp, Macchu Picchu and the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia (alongside many smaller challenge events). This money has had a huge impact in changing lives of people around the world, something Paul has seen first hand having visited many VSO projects around the world.

Paul works with VSO because he passionately believes in their philosophy of long term capacity building, delivered through volunteers who work long term in communities to build skills.

On this page you will find out how the Fire and Ice Challenge is working to change the lives of people around the world through VSO's secure livelihoods and climate change programme and how you can support VSO through volunteering.

How this challenge is changing lives

The Fire and Ice Challenge is aiming to raise £50,000 for VSO's secure livelihoods and climate change programmes - specifically supporting 2,500 men, women and children in some of the areas most impacted by climate change. Both professionally and personally I am keen to do all I can to address the issue and support the people most impacted by changes in weather. These impacts have caused whole communities to lose their livelihoods as crops have failed due to drought or been washed away due to flooding - significantly impacting communities in some of the poorest countries on earth.

The money raised will pay for volunteers to share their skills so that people in regions most effected by climate change in Nepal and Bangladesh can adapt to the changes they face, build their skills and ultimately have more secure incomes. Skilled VSO volunteers will work with communities to teach them how to adapt through new farming techniques, drought resistant crops, and alternative livelihoods. Through skills sharing and training there will be climate change resilient jobs created for vulnerable workers and farmers

This means that these communities will have the resilience to withstand climate change impacts over the short term, the ability to be self reliant and the capacity to adapt to new and more frequent hazards over the longer term.

Paul will experience the two harshest extremes of temperature in the Fire and Ice Challenge - he is working with VSO to ensure the fundraising from this challenge goes to support communities who are genuinely most in need of support - Bangladesh and Nepal.

The Challenge: 
  • Chronic hunger: 36 million Bangladeshi's are chronically hungry with 44% of people in rural areas living in poverty
  • Mass unemployment:  The Millennium Development Goal for employment is currently off track with 56% of the labour force and only 29% of women in employment
  • Climate change vulnerability: Bangladesh is the most vulnerable country to climate change, and with the population set to grow by another 100 million by 2050 the stress on the environment is only going to get worse
  • Access: Small farmers lack access to new technologies and are poorly connected to their relevant markets
  • Lack of water: There are significant issues around lack of water for farming, significantly reducing crop potential
How the Fire and Ice Challenge will support:
  • Clinics: By establishing Agricultural and Livestock clinics to help share best practise and by offering technical training and start up equipment to ensure improved management of water resources. This will enable the agricultural sector to sustainably grow productivity and respond to climate change
  • Skills sharing: Through skills sharing and training there will be climate change resilient jobs created for vulnerable workers and farmers
  • Co-operatives: Through the forming and training of co-operatives and with a greater understanding of their rights  the beneficiaries can engage more effectively with market actors and hold them to account
  • Policy development: Ensuring secure and sustainable livelihoods by bringing about national and local policies which are receptive to the needs of poor and marginalised groups, and involving these groups more in local planning


Nepal - Climate Change Resilience and Food Security
The Challenge:
  • Extreme poverty: Nepal is one of the world’s poorest countries with 78% of the population living on less than $1.25 per day.
  • Climate change impact: Food security and livelihoods are suffering due to prolonged droughts leading to crop failure; extremes in temperatures; heavier rainfalls and floods; more crop pests and diseases
  • Future risk: Nepal is the 13th in the list of countries most impacted by climate change. The Himalayas have been hit hard by climate change and the melting glaciers will have devastating effects on the whole South Asian region, home to nearly 25% of the world’s population
  • Food security risk: Agriculture provides livelihoods for over 65% of the population, yet poverty and vulnerability to food insecurity is widespread due to discrimination, poor agricultural techniques, lack of access to markets and of livelihood opportunities
How the Fire and Ice Challenge will support:
  • VSO volunteer organic farming experts will share their knowledge and expertise and support farmers to adopt appropriate improved sustainable agriculture practices through:
  • Promoting improved crop varieties such as disease-tolerant, high yield maize and wheat varieties, and legumes such as peas, beans, lentils etc, through training, seed support and demonstrations;
  • Training on alternative pest management techniques;
  • Building knowledge on use of manure and cattle urine;
  • Promoting use of compost through demonstrations;
  • Growing kitchen garden  to provide more food to eat and vegetable to sell
  • Planting  fruit trees, fodder and forage crops;
  • Strengthening access to markets and marketing produce through groups and cooperatives.


 You can read more at VSO's Secure Livelihoods page and Climate Change page.

Volunteering with VSO

VSO tackles poverty by using the skills, commitment and enthusiasm of individuals from around the world. For 50 years, they have been recruiting volunteers aged between 18 and 75 to live and work in the heart of local communities. They are actively recruiting at all times, and there are a number of placements to suit a variety of ages and professional expertise. Volunteering is a great way to use your skills directly, experience a different country and change people's lives. Read more about how you can volunteer with VSO on their volunteering pages.