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A letter to the Sunday Times and VSO began

Since VSO was founded 40 years ago, following a letter published in The Sunday Times, 22,000 people have been posted to do voluntary work in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe.

At present there are 1,015 women and 935 men serving in 59 countries. Many are qualified teachers - most of them English teachers.

VSO wants to increase its presence in the Third World, but is undergoing a recruitment crisis. This year the number of volunteers recruited has dropped by 10 per cent, with applications for teaching posts down by half. At the same time, there has been a huge increase in demand for English teachers which, in Vietnam, is partly explained by a cultural shift away from Russian to English as the main foreign language.

A major exhibition to provide an insight into all aspects of voluntary work, both at home and abroad, is being held in north-west England next weekend.

At least 35 other major volun-teering organisations, from Age Concern and Oxfam to Community Service Volunteers and Camp America, will be on hand to answer questions. Volunteering World is at The Town Hall, Albert Square, Manchester, Saturday March 21, 10.30am - 5pm.

For further information, contact VSO's enquiries unit on 0181 780 7500. Or write: VSO, 317 Putney Bridge Road, London SW15 2PN.

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