The government has set up a new £13m fund which will enable public sector employees, including doctors, nurses, police and teachers to still receive pension contributions while volunteering their skills in some of the world’s poorest countries.
It is hoped the new fund will encourage more public sector workers to volunteer abroad.
It is backed by the Departments of Health, International Development and Children Schools and Families and will be made available to people leaving the UK between April 2008 and March 2011 for periods of between seven and 24 months.
They will receive pension benefits, covering the absence based on their departing salary, when they return to the UK and continue in public service employment.
Douglas Alexander, international development secretary, said: “Volunteering brings vital skills and energy to our efforts to tackle poverty in the developing world. And now the government is providing more support and encouragement for those who have skills to share.”
Ed Balls, secretary of state for children, schools and families, said: “Teachers who volunteer bring back vital skills which feed back into UK education. The testimony of teachers themselves suggests they have learned creative new approaches, particularly to working with pupils from diverse and challenging backgrounds. They get management and leadership opportunities overseas that allow them to re-enter UK education with renewed focus or at a higher level.”