International Volunteering

European Solidarity Corps: what is it really?

How does it work?

The European Solidarity Corps is the new European Union initiative which creates opportunities for young people to volunteer or work in projects in their own country or abroad that benefit communities and people around Europe.

The young people who participate in the European Solidarity Corps will all agree with and uphold its Mission and Principles.

You can register for the European Solidarity Corps when you are 17 years old, but you cannot start a project until you are over 18. European Solidarity Corps projects will be available to people up to the age of 30 years old.

After completing a simple registration process, European Solidarity Corps participants could be selected and invited to join a wide range of projects, such as helping to prevent natural disasters or rebuild afterwards, assisting in centers for asylum seekers, or addressing different social issues in communities (just like in the previous program – EVS).

Projects supported by the European Solidarity Corps can last from two to twelve months. They will usually be located within the European Union Member States. At the end of your ESC period, you will receive a certificate confirming your participation and describing your project as well as what main competences you have gained during your stage– the Youthpass.

You will receive free accommodation, food, insurance and pocket money. Reimbursement of travel cost to and from the project location is paid based on the EU distance band calculator. In most places in Europe it is between 275 and 360 Euros, depending on the distance.

How can you apply?

If you are between 18 and 30 you have two options:

1. Contact an organisation  that is recruiting volunteers for a granted project OR

2. Contact an organisation to discuss available projects.

To contact an organisation, consult the database of accredited organisations.

3. Look for the project opening (CALLs) yourself in the European Solidarity Corps website!

101 Why Youth Capital Of Romania Team for Youth EVS Story (1)

What ESC is not:

I am Sarah, from Austria and I came to believe that EVS is not, nor should it be considered as:

  1. Language course – EVS is not a language course. Of course, you have the chance of learning a new language, and it’s really great. But EVS is so much more than these, and the language course is a tool for making your stage easier and richer.
  2. Vacations/holidays – although we have 2 free days per each month and we can take them whenever we want, we can’t abuse it. Also we have to get the work done and a result to show.
  3. Job – EVS is not a paid job. It must not replace paid jobs but it is a good opportunity to realize which skills you have and which skills you could gain.
  4. Missions – EVS is volunteering, but nothing related to missions. This is not something religious, or related to live in bad conditions. European Union provides the necessary for your experience during EVS.
  5. Scholarship – What EVS and a scholarship have in common is that you get financial aid for participating in education. The differences are that scholarships are used in formal education, while EVS is a non-formal learning program, and that you usually need qualifications to get a scholarship, which are not needed for EVS.
  6. Fraud – This experience is as serious as any job but not a fraud. You have a contract where is written all the stuffs related with your activities, your schedule, the money that your hosting organization will give to you, your responsibilities during the project, and your rights, etc. You won’t have to pay anything at the end of your project, so stay calm.
  7. Unstructured volunteering – There are many ways of helping people, some of them don’t require you to have a plan. EVS is not like this – the Activity Agreement you sign states what kind of work you have to do in your project. You get a schedule of all the activities you are going to do, and you have to prepare them before.
  8. Internship – we are working in an NGO, not in a company as interns normally do, so first, we have no chance to stay at the organization as employees. Second, our project is not lasting, in the sense, that we have a certain work to do and the final result to show, as it is already mentioned at the point number 2.
  9. Touristic activity – EVS gives you opportunity to explore new places and discover new cultures but it’s not for tourism.
  10. Exploitation of cheap job – The fact that you will be a volunteer doesn’t mean that you are gonna be exploited as a worker. You will do just the activities that are described by your project and be written on your contract. Sometimes they can propose you others activities but if you are not agree you can reject them and you have all the time the European National Agency to support you if you have any problem in this aspect.