'A Day in the Life' work shadow scheme 2016/17

A Day In The Life is a work-shadowing initiative that provides a unique opportunity for staff from government and voluntary organisations to step into each other's shoes for a day and learn about how the other sector operates.

As well as improving cross-sector understanding, the programme helps participants find out about the roles and responsibilities of staff within another organisation, and the operational environments and wider contexts in which they work.

Applications for the 2026/17 scheme are now closed.

Who can apply

We welcome applications from across the voluntary sector. NCVO is unable to vet applicants.

Government applicants

You can apply if you work in one of the participating government departments:

  • Department for Communities and Local Government
  • Department for Education
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Department for Work and Pensions
  • Home Office
  • National Audit Office.

Staff from all levels of seniority and all types of role are invited to apply.

Voluntary sector applicants

Anyone with permission from their employer can participate. Remember to also check your organisation's visitor policy. These vary between organisations, but could cover things likes security, data protection and confidentiality.

How the scheme works

Applicants are paired with a suitable person from the opposite sector

At a convenient time between November 2016 and April 2017, they can spend up to a day shadowing each other in their organisations'.

Participant's get their partner's contact details

This happens in mid November.

You should contact your partner to arrange the date and details of your shadowing day. Initial contact should ideally be made before 1 December so that there is plenty of time to organise the day.

The scheme is very flexible – you can work with you partner before your shadowing day to decide what you both want to do. Further guidance for this will be provided.

The scheme is flexible

Sometimes matches do not work out. For example, occasionally a participant leaves their current role. For this reason, NCVO offers a re-match service after the first month of the programme.

To be eligible for re-matching, applicants must notify NCVO at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if their partner can no longer participate by 12 December. While NCVO cannot guarantee that it will be able to find a new partner for all applicants, all efforts will be made to do so.

We can't always find suitable matches for people who apply to A Day In The Life programme. If we can't match an applicant during the first round of matches, applicants will be automatically included in the December re-match stage. However, NCVO cannot guarantee that a match will be found.


5 September 2016 Applications open.
16 October 2016 Applications close.
Mid November 2016

Matches announced.

Participants begin to contact each other.

Late November 2016 Shadowing days begin.
12 December 2016 Deadline for re-matching applications.
6 January 2017 Re-matches announced.
April 2017 Participants invited to evaluate the scheme.


Preparing for your A Day In The Life.

A Day In The Life is flexible – together, participants decide:

  • when to meet
  • what their objectives are
  • what activities they will organise for each other.

To get the most out of their days, participants can contact their partner prior to their swap to discuss their aims and suitable activities. Some participants find it useful to use a template to plan their partner's day.

Read our guidance on guidance on planning your Day In The Life to find out more.


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