Criminology & Psychology Volunteer Programme in South Africa
Interested in a unique volunteer placement in South Africa that combines psychology, mental health, and criminology?

Dive into this programme where you’ll gain profound clinical experience in areas like victim counselling and child psychology. Collaborate closely with local and international professionals experts and participate in ground-breaking initiatives.

More than just skill-building, you’ll drive genuine transformation, working towards sustainable development in developing communities via our dedicated outreach efforts and expansive charity endeavours.

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Psychology placement at foundation for abused children
Court preparation and legal support
Community outreach work
Victim support & diversion from reoffending services
Gain practical experience and boost your CV
Tailor-made programmes based on your specialisation and interest


Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Price: From £400
Dates: 1st week of every month (flexible start dates offered)
Duration: 4 weeks +
Age: 18+
Accommodation, meals, airport pickup/dropoff, in-country transport, professional programme development, 24/7 support


This programme is ideal for…

Psychology & Criminology students and graduates interested in child psychology, child abuse, legal and victim support, and looking to gain practical case-based training. Volunteers should have a foundational knowledge of psychology and criminology theory and a desire to work alongside local professionals to learn about different approaches to psychological healing, the legal proccess of the criminal justice system, and the social challenges of ending child abuse.

Programme Overview

Learn about Victim Support with your Psychology Placement

At our partner NGO foundation, you will be placed in the heart of victim support for children who have experienced abuse. Working under the guidance of experienced professionals, you will witness the daily practices, receive comprehensive training, and gain insights into the complexities of addressing abuse. Through this placement, you will delve into the field of victim support and psychology, focusing on two key areas:

  • Forensic and Psychological Assessments: Learn about the structured processes employed by qualified social workers to assess and analyze the psychological impact of abuse through various techniques.
  • Therapeutic Counseling and Support: Develop a deep understanding of professional care techniques aimed at assisting individuals in their psychological healing and coping with trauma.
Criminal Justice and Court Support

As a vital component of helping abuse victims, court preparation and legal support play a significant role in providing children and their parents with the necessary skills, emotional support, and legal knowledge to navigate the legal and court processes. You will have the opportunity to observe and help with mock court sessions and learn about the legal, police, court and prosecution processes for dealing with cases of abuse and criminal justice.

  • Diversion Programme: Collaborate with professionals to redirect child offenders from the criminal justice system, working towards rehabilitation and promoting more constructive behaviours.
  • Engaging with Medico-Legal Experts: Gain firsthand knowledge about forensic examinations and their crucial role in gathering evidence for abuse cases.
  • Understanding Social Challenges: Explore the social complexities surrounding gender-based violence, sexual abuse, and child abuse, raising awareness and contributing to prevention efforts.
Empowering Communities through Outreach

Join our team on impactful community outreach visits to township schools and various community spaces, where you will lead projects aimed at raising awareness and fostering positive change. By engaging with community support officers and other volunteers, you will focus on important topics such as:

  • Teen Moms Programme: Contribute to the provision of essential teenage pregnancy support services in South Africa, empowering young mothers to navigate the challenges they face.
  • Gender-Based Violence Outreach: Participate in an evidence-based program designed to respond to and address violence against women and children, creating safer environments and promoting gender equality.
  • School Awareness Programme (SAFE): Work alongside educators and learners to create awareness about rights and responsibilities, promoting well-being, human rights, and sexual reproductive health education.

Through these community outreach initiatives, you will play a significant role in advocating for positive change, while sharing vital information about available treatments and services to empower individuals and communities alike.

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About the Programme

The criminology and psychology volunteer placement is designed to give practical on-the-ground training and work experience in the area of victim support. Volunteers will work at our partner organisation, a charity helping victims of abuse, whilst learning from healthcare professionals, social workers and legal experts operating in different fields of child abuse. As well as skills-based learning and training, volunteers will give back to the community by working with community support officers to assist with community outreach projects to raise awareness about teenage pregnancy, gender-based violence, sexual reproductive health, human rights and well-being, as well as sharing information about available treatments and services.

Daily Schedule: 

You will be volunteering from Monday to Friday  and will report to the head office each morning. Although times and duties may vary day to day, you should expect to be at your placement between 8am and 4pm. In the evenings you will have the option to join in with the child development programme and community activities at the village you will be staying in. Below is an example itinerary for your placement in South Africa – please note this is just a guide.

Monday: Head Offices / Weekly Briefing / Administration
Tuesday: Legal Training / Court Preparation
Wednesday: Community Outreach / School Visit
Thursday: Shadow Community Support Officer / Counseling Training
Friday: Legal Training / Court Preparation

Weekends and free time: The weekends are free time off from volunteering. This is a great opportunity to explore South Africa and plan weekend trips and activities. You can read our Volunteer Travel Guide to South Africa for great tips on places to visit and things to do. If you just want to relax, enjoy the nearby landmarks and explore Johannesburg you are welcome to stay at the volunteer accommodation over the weekend, but most volunteers will plan to go on trips together on the weekends. Our local team can help you organise weekend activities. 

The daily placement is based at the head offices in Johannesburg. You will work under the supervision of the programme coordinator to learn about victim support, counselling, legal/court preparation and community outreach projects. There are 3 departments within the organisation, depending on how long you join the programme you will get an opportunity to work with and learn from each department.  

The community support officers and counsellors head up the casework and victim support. Here you will receive training in Therapeutic Counseling and Support, learning about professional care to assist with the process of psychological healing and coping with trauma. The legal department focuses on pursuing justice for victims, this includes working with the police on investigations, court preparation with mock courts and litigation. You will learn about the criminal justice system and the legal challenges with regard to abuse and sentencing perpetrators. You will also go on weekly community visits and support the outreach work of the foundation. Projects include the Teen Moms Programme, Gender-Based Violence Outreach, School Awareness Programme (SAFE) among others.

South Africa faces significant challenges in child abuse, gender-based violence, human rights, poverty, and crime prevention. As a Criminology and Psychology volunteer, you can have a real impact by supporting a leading victim support foundation in South Africa. Learn from experienced industry professionals and contribute to their daily work in assisting children and families affected by abuse. Gain insights into casework, counselling techniques, the legal aspects of the criminal justice system, and court preparation. Additionally, you will contribute to crucial community education and awareness projects. By understanding the social, economic, political, and legal challenges associated with abuse prevention, volunteers can truly make a difference.

During your time on the program, you will learn and collaborate with local professionals, acknowledging cultural differences in approaches. Volunteer responsibilities will vary based on organizational needs, your experience level, assigned department, and program duration. Initially, your tasks may involve observation and administrative support. As you progress and become more familiar with the workload and routine, you will have the opportunity for more hands-on and practical involvement.

At Vocational Impact, we are a charity organization committed to making a direct impact with your support. As a not-for-profit organization, we invest the donations from your fees back into the projects that our volunteers participate in. By joining our programs, you will have the opportunity to:

  • Gain practical clinical experience in your field
  • Work alongside mental health and legal professionals, including psychologists, lawyers, and counsellors
  • Collaborate with multiple organizational and institutional partners
  • Engage in community development projects that make a difference
  • Develop your professional and career skills
  • Contribute to cross-cultural exchange, sharing ideas and practices
  • Immerse yourself in the local culture and way of life
  • Explore the magnificent history, landmarks, nature, and cities of South Africa
  • Experience personal growth through travel, work, and friendships
  • Connect with other volunteers and meet new people
  • Benefit from tailored programs designed to meet your specific needs and interests.
  • By participating in our programs, you not only contribute to meaningful initiatives but also embark on a transformative journey of personal and professional development.

To join the Psychology & Criminology placement in South Africa, volunteers should be studying either one or both of these subjects or studying similar related fields (Sociology, Human Rights etc.). Graduates or professionals with field experience are also eligible to take part. We also welcome applicants looking to expand their knowledge and understand more about criminology & psychology.

Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate in this placement. Ideally, volunteers will have a foundational knowledge of psychology theory and a passion for criminology. Importantly, all applicants should show a strong commitment to learning, a desire to develop and grow, the ability to work in a team, and have a positive approach to helping people.  

Volunteers from all over the world are welcome to join this programme.

*Please enquire for our heritage bursary if you have ancestral roots in the country you want to volunteer in.

All our projects are founded, managed and developed by locals. We provide essential funding to support community programs, development projects, running costs, local salaries and sustainability. We work with partner organisations that are specialists in the areas they operate. Our partner organisations are selected because of the important work they are doing and they are run by impressive humanitarians and professionals in their fields. 

On the Criminology and Psychology programme, your daily placement will be based at our partner NGO foundation that supports children who are victims of abuse. The foundation originated in response to an urgent need for medical examinations for sexually abused children. From there, it has grown into a fully-fledged child abuse NGO for abused children in South Africa. Since its inception, there has been an increase in the number of referrals made. This precipitated the development of additional programmes to address more than the medical needs of the children, expanding the services to prevent secondary victimisation of children and their families.

The team is committed to a cultural exchange of ideas and approaches, sharing professional insight and experience with volunteers, and working on community outreach projects together that raise awareness about abuse, sexual health, human rights and access to services.   

In the evenings volunteers can also help at the community village where you will be staying. Our foundation in South Africa provides holistic care for mothers and children suffering from HIV/AIDS. The foundation’s goal is to give these mothers and children the best opportunities for the future by providing an integrated programme of housing, education, healthcare, nutrition, sports and arts, as well as a focus on counselling, mentoring and well-being.

Vocational Impact operates under UK registered charity, Arms Around the Child. Our core mission is to offer ethical volunteer abroad programmes that provide international skills exchange, career development, work experience, and practical support to international NGOs, and to donate directly towards projects that volunteers work with. 

Once home to Nelson Mandela, surrounded by rich culture and world-famous safari parks, Johannesburg is South Africa’s largest city. For a first-time journey to South Africa, Johannesburg offers visitors a great insight into the country’s complex history, cultural landscape and fast-paced modern development. Experience Johannesburg from a unique perspective with Vocational Impact. 

Joburg, the city of gold, is a vibrant urban city. The history of apartheid and uneven development means there is still extreme inequality and poverty. Major problems include poor health care, sexual abuse, gender-based violence and lack of access to services and care. 

Volunteers can really make an impact with this Urban city placement. By helping local initiatives and organizations in Johannesburg you can make a big difference reaching poorer areas of the city and more rural communities in need of support. Urban life gives you the chance to explore the sites and landmarks Johannesburg has to offer and learn about the history and diverse cultures of South Africa. 

You can experience Joburg like a local whilst having easy access to the rich experiences South Africa has to offer. Visit historic Soweto, and learn about the complex history of the country at the local museums. Take weekend and day trips to safari parks, and see the big five (lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos and buffalos) for yourself. Go on a trip to Cape Town and climb Table Mountain or hang out at the beaches. Adventure awaits in this diverse, beautiful and incredible country. 


During your placement, you will stay within our project ‘village’ located just outside the city centre which is made up of 20 small cottages, where the residents and staff reside. The accommodation is of very good quality by local standards and has running water, hot showers, and electricity, but electricity can be inconsistent because of load sharing. There is a caretaker/ security guard who attends to the gate of the village, the protection of the property and the safety of the residents and volunteers. You will have staff that will cook and clean for you and laundry services are provided once a week for volunteers in the Village laundromat.

The village has a large community garden, eating hall, sports area and library. The cottage has well-sized bedrooms and living spaces, and although basic, the cottage is clean and comfortable. There are two bedrooms (which can be either mixed or single-sex) with cupboards for clothing and personal belongings. There are two bathrooms; one shower and 1 bathtub and you will have a shared living room. The cottage is equipped with a refrigerator, television & DVD player, microwave and toaster. Most household items such as cleaning materials, toiletries and the like are provided by the project. 

There is no Wi-Fi in the village, however, you can buy a local SIM card with data (your phone needs to be unlocked) to stay connected. The VI team in-country will help you purchase a local SIM Card.


You will be provided with three meals per day cooked on-site at the village. Carbs, meats and vegetables are all staple parts of the diet in South Africa. Meals can be made Vegetarian and Vegan dishes can be provided upon request. Our team will do their best to cater for any dietary requirements.


We aim to begin programmes on the first Monday of each month. Once you register for the programme we work closely with all volunteers to map your dates together. Volunteers will need to arrive one or two days before orientation. 

After you have registered for the programme you will need to book flights to arrive at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. Upon arrival in South Africa, you will be met at the airport by one of our volunteer coordinators. We will provide you with a Vocational Impact T-shirt which makes identification easy. Our team will then transport you to the village to meet the project. 

Orientation is hosted by our local team where you will receive an introduction to your programme. This will cover information about South Africa, the culture and customs, expectations, safety, staff members, organisational partners, and an overview of the placement itinerary. 

Programme Fees:

1 week – £400
2 weeks – £790
3 weeks – £1170
4 weeks – £1540
5 weeks – £1900
6 weeks – £2250
8 weeks – £2950
10 weeks – £3550
12 weeks – £4000
What’s Included:

✔︎ Support in Country
✔︎ Transportation
✔︎ Accommodation
✔︎ Meals
✔︎ Weekly laundry and housekeeping
✔︎ Personal Development Training
✔︎ Professional Programme Support
✔︎ 24/7 In-country volunteer coordinator
✔︎ Registration at affiliate organizations

✔︎ 30 + hours of cross-cultural training
✔︎ 24/7 international support
✔︎ Weekends off for travel opportunities

After Care:

✔︎ Certificate of Learning (upon request)
✔︎ Employment opportunities. Join our team!
✔︎ Become a VI Ambassador
✔︎ Join the Vocational Impact alumni community
✔︎ We can provide you with Job references


Registration Fee:

In addition to the programme fee there is a £265 registration fee to secure your place on the programme. This registration fee includes:

Support Before you Travel

✔︎ Tailored placements to match your interests, career development goals or university subject
✔︎ Pre-departure support with paperwork
✔︎ Support with flights + insurance & visa advice
✔︎ Unlimited telephone and email support
✔︎ Fundraising guides
✔︎ Volunteer essential information guide
✔︎ Packing lists
✔︎ 100% financial protection + flexible booking and start dates

Where Does My Money Go:

Unlike other companies in the field, Vocational Impact is a charity organisation and operates under UK registered charity, Arms Around the Child. Your programme fees go towards providing you a safe, organised and structured volunteer placement and is reinvested directly back into our project partners in Africa and India.

We claim GiftAID on your donation fees (UK only), which means we can donate more directly towards the projects you will stay with. Vocational Impact are governed by the UK Charity Commission and we are a not-for-profit operation. We have been awarded ‘Ethical Travel Partner’ at many UK universities because of our unique model.

What’s Not Included:

✗ Flights
✗ Tourist Visa (if applicable)
✗ Travel Insurance
✗ Spending Money
✗ Vaccinations
✗ Police check/DBS


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