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Leap into February and prepare for Lent. Go on a 'Swatch Journey through Lent', or join Fr Michael as he reflects on the 'Lenten Sundays'.

As of February 2022, we are going to be restarting BOVA.
If you are interested in becoming a Volunteer with BOVA, please read the information below, and get in touch.

Why volunteer with BOVA?

At BOVA, we make sure everyone gets the best out of your overseas volunteer experience.

Benefits to you:

      • Life experience of working and living in a different culture
      • An opportunity to serve
      • Personal development
      • Gaining valuable new skills and experience
      • A 'break' from life in the UK
      • An experience of living with/alongside a religious community
      • A carefully planned educational process

BOVA recognises that the main beneficiary of a volunteer experience in the developing world is the volunteer themselves. We therefore attempt to enhance the educational benefit through pre-departure training, support and formation during the placement, and debrief and ongoing communication after you return to the UK. We hope that the volunteer experience will act as a stimulus for continued involvement with development issues, faith in action and the Salesian family.

Benefits to Host Communities:

In some circumstances, volunteering can be exploitative of the developing world. BOVA works hard to avoid this situation by carefully checking both volunteer and placement, attempting to match skills, interests and requirements. Volunteers are just one part of an ongoing Salesian presence, so while we are careful to create opportunities where your contribution is valuable, we make sure that the project in which you work will not suffer too much when your placement ends.

How religious is all this?

BOVA, as part of the Salesian Family, has its foundations in a joyful expression of Christian service. Placements are with host communities of priests and brothers who have given their lives to serve God in this way.

However, we are happy to accept volunteers of other faiths or no faith, on the understanding that they will be respectful of the faith dimension and sensitive to the requirements of their host community. This may involve attending prayers or Mass. If you would like more information on this, please contact us. Talking to former volunteers is also helpful in finding out more about fitting into the life of a Salesian community.

What does it cost?

  • Admin fee

When you apply, we process your application, arrange a DBS check - because you'll be working with children and young people - check your references, and start looking for a Salesian community where you and your skills will fit best. To offset some of the costs involved, we charge an administration fee of £25, which you need to send us with a hard copy of your application form. Please make your cheque payable to SDB Trustees Ltd/Bosco Volunteer Action.

  • Training weekends

It's important that you are well-prepared for your placement, so we provide two training weekends before you leave. The cost for accommodation, meals and training is £100. You will also need to cover your travel to and from the training venue in London or Macclesfield.

The training weekends include:

      • Practicalities
      • Inter-cultural learning
      • Inclusion/Exclusion
      • Salesian Spirituality and style
      • Safeguarding
      • Expectations on volunteers and host communities
      • Perceptions of developing countries
      • ... and much more.

If you want, you can be paired with a former volunteer to get a sense of what living in a Salesian community entails. Let us know and we'll arrange this for you.

  • Flights and travel costs

You need to pay for your flights to and from the placement, visa costs, and insurance.

  • What's provided for you?

Your host community will provide food and lodging during your placement. You'll probably want to take some spending money for treats and gifts too. If you'd like to know how much previous volunteers have spent during a BOVA placement in a similar region, get in touch and we can tell you.

Interested? Take the next step!

BOVA experiences are very different, because each placement is arranged to match you and the placement, so the best way to find out more about what you could do as a BOVA volunteer before you apply is to get in touch. Contact the Coordinator, Fr Bob, at bova@salesians.org.uk

How to apply

If you'd like to apply, please download and complete the BOVA Application Form, and return it by email to Fr Bob: bova@salesians.org.uk

Please also send a hard copy of the form, together with a covering letter, two passport photos and a £25 administration charge (cheques payable to 'SDB Trustees Ltd/Bosco Volunteer Action'), by post to:

Fr Bob Gardner SDB

BOVA Coordinator

Thornleigh Salesian House

Sharples Park




We will then begin the application process, which includes checking your references, arranging your DBS check and looking for the right placement for you. We will stay in touch with you and let you know the dates of training weekends.

Please see our Current Volunteer Opportunities page for the latest volunteering positions.