Step into the Gap

18 – 30? Looking for a gap year with a difference?

Step into the Gap is a life changing opportunity to volunteer in the UK, gain work experience, develop leadership skills and visit CAFOD partners overseas.

You will live and work in one of our UK placements for a year, learning more about yourself, your faith and the world we live in and you’ll inspire others to make a difference in the world. 

Applications for Step into the Gap are now closed and will re-open in the Autumn.

To express an interest in applying for September 2016 and to be alerted when applications are open for 2016 please e-mail

Read about past gap year experiences:

Eleanor made a video about her gap year in the South Wales office and trip to Sierra Leone.

James enjoyed sharing about his visit to El Salvador in schools and parishes in the Blackpool area.

Amy, Emma, Christine and Monica kept an online diary of the time they spent in Ghana.

Read more stories from those who have taken part in the programme on the CAFOD blog >>

Step into the Gap FAQs

Will I get paid?

You won’t be paid a salary. You will receive regular money for your basic living expenses.The amount depends upon the placement you choose.

Will I have to pay for anything?

Training, accommodation, travel (related to work), vaccinations and visas will be paid for. Food, accommodation, equipment and insurance for your overseas travel will also be provided. You may wish to purchase your own contents insurance for your UK accommodation.

How are volunteers selected?

The first stage is the application form. For those who are shortlisted, there is a recruitment day which will include an individual interview, a group exercise and the opportunity to meet members of staff at your chosen placement.

Do I have to be Catholic?

You will be working in a Catholic environment and must be comfortable engaging with people around faith issues. You don’t necessarily have to be Catholic but you should be able to demonstrate your understanding of the Catholic Church or be open to learning more about it.

How long is the programme? When does it start?

The programme lasts for an academic year (usually September to July). You will normally work to the academic timetable with holidays at half term, Christmas and Easter.

Can I volunteer for just part of the year?

No, the programme is designed as a year long process.

Will I be able to get a job with CAFOD or my placement team when I finish?

There is no guarantee of employment at the end of the year, but you will certainly have gained a lot of relevant skills and experience.

What will I be doing in the UK? Where will I stay?

This depends on the placement that you choose. Please read the placement information carefully and look at the placement websites to help you decide which placement would suit you best.

What support will I get during the year?

On a day to day basis you will be supported by the staff and team at your placement. You will also meet regularly with a local member of staff from CAFOD and be offered support from specialist CAFOD staff in Head Office.

What if I start but find that I don’t enjoy it?

We will work together to try to sort out any problems. If you find that it’s just not right for you then we’ll support you as you decide what to do next. If you leave straight after the overseas trip you may be asked to repay some of the costs.

If I love it, can I do it for a second year?

No, Step into the Gap is for one year only, so that as many people as possible can have the opportunity to experience it.

International visit - what’s it all about?

Visiting our partners and their communities in another country is an opportunity to experience some of the opportunities and challenges that they live with. You will get to share your stories and listen to theirs, work alongside our partners, eat with local communities and worship in a unique way. When you come home you will then use your experiences to inspire others to act for positive change and make a difference in the world. We’re pretty sure you’ll make some great friends along the way too.

What country will I visit? Do I get to choose where I go?

No. The country that you visit will depend on many different things such as what type of work our partners are currently doing and which countries are safe to visit.

Will I get training? Will I have to pay any training costs?

We will make sure you’re well prepared for your trip, helping you with everything from mosquito nets to media training, water to work plans and everything in between. All of your training will be provided by and paid for by CAFOD.

What will I be doing overseas?

This very much depends upon the country you visit, the partners you’re working with and your skills and interests. You could find yourself singing nursery rhymes with toddlers, sharing ideas about young leadership, visiting water projects or healthcare clinics.

Will it be safe?

At CAFOD we take our responsibility for your health and safety very seriously. We provide you with training before you go and support while you’re overseas. A member of CAFOD staff will travel overseas with your group and will take overall responsibility for safety and security whilst you’re away.

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