A day in the life of an ICS Team Leader

Team Leader Lettice
Writing references in VSO Nigeria’s office.

In this post I share what an average day is like as a volunteer Team Leader on the International Citizenship Service (ICS) programme with Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO).


I’m coming up to my seventh month as a Team Leader in Kwali, Nigeria. During that time I’ve worked with two teams. The first team I was a part of had 17 volunteers, 3 Team Leaders and 1 Project Officer. The volunteers were from Nigeria, Kenya and the UK, and there was 1 Team Leader from each country. We worked together from July 2015 to September 2015.

I’m still volunteering with the second team. There are 16 volunteers, 2 Team Leaders and 1 Project Officer. The volunteers are from Nigeria and the UK, and there is 1 Team Leader from each country. We are working together between October 2015 and December 2015.

Being a Team Leader has been a great experience that has taught me many things, e.g. how to make training more fun.

What is a Team Leader?

Team Leaders are responsible for supporting the learning and pastoral care of volunteers. Team Leaders do not have a placement, in our case at a school, like volunteers. UK Team Leaders work alongside an In Country Team Leader Counterpart and are supervised by a VSO Staff member – the Project Officer. Team Leaders live in the community with a host family.

Why I wanted to be a Team Leader

The main reason I applied to be a Team Leader was because I wanted more experience managing people. Other reasons included wanting first-hand experience of a development project and to get to know another country and its cultures.

So what’s an average day like?

Below is a typical day for me but keep in mind no two days are the same, and certainly no two weeks are the same. If you want to see just how much our work varies follow Team Kwali on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or read our blog. So, here is an average day…

6.30 am Three times a week I wake up early and run with some of the volunteers. It’s good exercise, nice to see how pretty Kwali looks in the morning and interesting to see what activity is happening on the streets.

7.30 am The first thing I do every morning is spend several minutes fighting my mosquito net to get out of bed. Then the rest of my routine is as follows: check my phone for messages, greet the family, collect water for my bucket shower, wash and get dressed, eat breakfast prepared by my host mum, pack my bag for the day, tidy my room and collect my packed lunch.

Collecting water in the white container for my bucket shower.

8.30 am Depending on where the team are meeting that day I leave my host home by foot or take a motor-taxi. We meet at different venues/locations depending on our purpose, such as training, meetings, Community Action Days, going to school placements, Host Home meetings…etc

Host Home meeting

8.50 am When I arrive I greet volunteers, my Counterpart and the Project Officer. I ask everyone how was their night/what they did/what they had for dinner…etc I check with my Counterpart and/or Project Officer for any updates to the plan for that day/week.

9 – 9.30 am when everybody has arrived the plan for the day starts. The day’s activities might be lead by the Project Officer, Team Leaders or volunteers. For example, if it’s a Tuesday my Counterpart and I run a training session for the volunteers. If it’s a Thursday the volunteers run an Active Citizenship Day and a team meeting.

Both teams have had slightly different plans. The second team’s plan is roughly as follows:

  • Monday – Day off
  • Tuesday – Training and submit reports
  • Wednesday – Community Action Days (CADs), committee meetings and planning for school clubs
  • Thursday – Active Citizenship Days(ACDs), team meetings and planning for school clubs
  • Friday – School club
  • Saturday – School club
  • Sunday – School club
Observing one of our school clubs, run by two of the volunteers.
Me  at one of our school clubs, run by two of the volunteers.

2 pm Usually lunch is late as the team have a lot to cover in the mornings. Over lunch I chat to volunteers, answer questions, discuss things with my Counterpart and the Project Officer, organise resources for the afternoon, and somewhere fit in eating lunch.

3 pm Back to the business of the day.

5 pm End of the day. I usually stay behind long enough to tidy up, answer questions, make plans with my Counterpart and the Project Officer, prepare resources for the next day and chat to staff from our partner organisation, named Guosow. I may also need to shop for materials, print paperwork or run personal errands.

7 pm I always aim to get home before dark as there are no street lights and my host home is located along an isolated dirt road with lots of potholes. I greet the family, put my bag in my room, have a bucket shower to cool down and take a quick rest.

8 pm If needed I help prepare dinner, but usually I play with the host children or help them with their homework, or sometimes I prepare things for the next day.

8 pm – 9 pm Eat dinner and socialise with the family. If the electricity is on we watch TV otherwise we chat.

Egusi soup
Egusi soup

10 pm Bed!


Above is more-or-less what an average day looks like for me. Things change a bit on days when we run events in the community, named Community Action Days, or when the volunteers go to their school placements, but otherwise that’s pretty much it. It’s pretty simple. You learn everything you need to know as you go along. There’s brilliant support from my Counterpart and the Project Officer and the training VSO provide is great. I’ve definitely learnt a lot, for which I am very grateful, and I can’t wait to apply my new knowledge to future jobs/volunteer experiences.

If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments section. Thanks for reading.



Published by Lettice

Lettice is an avid traveller, volunteer and writer. Follow her blogs for tips on where to go, what to do, and how to get there.

3 thoughts on “A day in the life of an ICS Team Leader

  1. Amazing, just came back a mountain of Egusi Soup in Ikorodu. How did you get started on your next adventure? I’m applying to be a team leader with VSO if possible as I loved every moment of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Charlie 🙂 I’m pleased to hear you had a good time in Ikorodu. Yes, definitely apply to be a team leader. I always keep a look out for opportunities. Here are a few you can research too: European Voluntary Service, British Council, and Japanese Exchange and Teaching programme. I’m currently doing EVS, and hoping to do teaching English abroad with the British Council and JET. Good luck!


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