European Solidarity Corps

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 international volunteering is not, nor should it be considered as:

  1. Language course – volunteering is not a language course. Of course, you have the chance of learning a new language, and it’s really great. But it 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 – this 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. Or simply to see that, in a similar context, in the future, this is just not your cup of tea. 
  4. Religious Missions – this is volunteering, but nothing related to spreading a certain religious belief. All activities take equitable care no discrimination or favoritism based on ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, physical capability and resources.
  5. Scholarship – What this program 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 this is a non-formal learning program, and that you usually need qualifications to get a scholarship, which are not needed for this program. But, just like scholarship some documents are needed in order for you to participate, so make sure you know all this with your receiving/coordinating organisation. 
  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 coordinating 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. Also, you wont be asked to do anything outside the legal European frame of law, and something extra will not be required from you (unless justifiable by the project activities and environment).
  7. Unstructured volunteering – There are many ways of helping people, some of them don’t require you to have a plan. This is not like this – the Activity/Volunteering 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. Also dont forget the feedback and reporting phase of an activity, as it will not only help you but it will ensure the activity was with impact and with reason.
  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 – volunteering in another country gives you opportunity to explore new places and discover new cultures but it’s not for tourism. Do not expect hotel like conditions and sightseeing tours. You will have some moments of relaxation but usually it involves some sort of work for 6 to 8 hours per day. 
  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 dont agree you can reject them. You have all the time the European National Agency to support you if you have any problem in this aspect.