A CHEMISTRY graduate who spent a “crushing” year on jobseekers allowance is now heading to the Philippines to work as volunteer.

Michael Saunders, 23, of Haughton, struggled to find employment in Darlington after graduating from York University with a chemistry degree in 2011.

Whilst job hunting he discovered a Government sponsored scheme that recruits young adults to work with disadvantaged communities overseas, and after successfully completing a rigorous interviewing process, Mr Saunders was offered a placement in Cebu, Philippines.

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He leaves on February 16 and has to raise £800 towards the project which will see him live with a host family and work with socially excluded deaf children who are at risk of sexual exploitation.

Mr Saunders said: “I’m really looking forward to it.

“The volunteering scheme is a good way to get young people enthusiastic and motivated; being on the dole for a year has been pretty crushing to be honest, it has not been easy.

“I really hope this is a life-changing experience, I hope that it is a stepping stone to more projects because the more I learn about volunteering, the more enthusiastic I get.”

Mr Saunders’ placement is being funded by the government’s Department for International Development as part of the International Citizenship Service (ICS) which sends young people aged 18 to 25-years-old abroad to help disadvantaged communities.

Since its launch in 2011, ICS has sent 1,250 British volunteers to over 28 of the world’s poorest countries and aims to have supported 7,000 volunteering trips over the next three years.

Mr Saunders is organising tasks such as bag packing and trying to find sponsorship to help him raise the £800 he needs to contribute to the three-month trip.

To help him reach his target, visit www.justgiving.com/Michael-Saunders3.