FAQ: A Solidarity Guide

The European Solidarity Corps is a funding programme of the European Union that creates opportunities for young people to volunteer, work, train and run their own solidarity projects that benefit communities around Europe.

A brief history of the Erasmus+ Volunteering Programmes

After the Second World War, the European Commission began trialling methods to promote mobility, solidarity, tolerance, active citizenship and mutual understanding amongst the young people of Europe. The European Voluntary Service (EVS) was officially launched in 1996: since then, over 100,000 individuals have volunteered with the service. For more than 20 years, EVS has had a major impact on the lives of many thousands of young people in Europe, improving their language and intercultural competences, enabling them to realise their own ideas and enriching local communities with their positive impact.

From October 2018, all new volunteering projects funded by Erasmus+ were incorporated under the name of Erasmus+ Volunteering. In addition to this, European Solidarity Corps (ESC) projects will be introduced. ESC 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. After 2020, all EVS and Erasmus+ Volunteering projects has been incorporated in the ESC, which will give young people many more volunteer and employment opportunities.

Here below you will find the answer to the Frequently Asked Questions: How does it work exactly? What are the opportunities for me? Who can partecipate? What do I have to do to partecipate?

You have more? Feel free to contact us!

  • What is the European Solidarity Corps programme?

The European Solidarity Corps is a programme created and financed by the European Union. The European Solidarity Corps brings together young people to build a more inclusive society, supporting vulnerable people and responding to societal challenges. It offers an inspiring and empowering experience for young people who want to help, learn and develop. The programme gives the opportunity for young people, regardless of their educational and financial background, to spend time in-country or tipically abroad for a period of some weeks up to 12 months, engaging in educational and social activities while receiving housing, food and financial support, other that tutoring and space for self-development.

To discover more about the mission and principles of the programme click here

  • Who can apply?

You can register for the European Solidarity Corps when you are 17 years old, but you cannot partecipate in an activity until you have reached 18. It means that you can apply to opportunities on the European Youth Portal if you are 17 years old, but the date which is the starting date of the project of your choice needs to be after your 18 years old birthday. Also, you must not be older than 30 at the starting date of the activity.

To participate in volunteering activities, you must be a citizen – or be legally resident – in one of the EU Member States or one of the patner countries (North Macedonia and Turkey, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, Russian Federation). Remember that the elegible countries which can apply for each specific project are, ultimately, a decision made by the hosting organisation: an organisation, due to specific patnerships or problems with visa bureaucracy for not-EU residents, might decide to look for partecipants just from specific countries: thus, satisfying this criteria does not make you automatically elegible for every project, but you need to check in with the hosting organisation.

Age and nationality are the only requisites to be satisfied: other criterias, as education, work experience or specific skills, are not restrictive for the application.

  • What does the programme offer? Which kind of experiences can I find and how long?

Most opportunities through the European Solidarity Corps are cross-border volunteering activities: it is legally possible doing volunteering in your same country, but usually the point is fir young people to live an experience abroad. These projects are an excellent opportunity to help where needed, learn new skills, spend time abroad, maybe learn a language – and definitely come back with unforgettable memories. With the wide range of issues covered by the projects (such as environment, health, inclusion, digital technologies, culture, sport), you’re sure to find something to match your interests and background.

You have the choice between volunteering individually – short-term or long-term – or team volunteering.

Long-term volunteering consists in a longer committement: it lasts tipically from 6 to a maximum of 12 months, giving the opportunity to live a longer project, seeing the actual impact of their own actions and to “settle down” in the host country like it is your own.

The short-term projects, lasting from 2 weeks up to 2 months, represent a first experience of what it is like to volunteer and live abroad, meant for the people who, for any reason, do not have the possibility to commit to a long-term experience. Both of these experience are considered “individual volunteering”, but it does not mean that there are not going to be other volunteers with you (but, on the contrary, it is typical that one organisation is hosting several volunteers working in different sub-project at the same time, which are usually going also to share an apartment).

The team volunteering are a kind of short-term volunteering experiences which happen in groups from 10 to 40 people. The action it is oriented towards giving the people a chance to live a multicultural environment and involves partecipants from – at least – two different countries. The goal is to develop solidairty activities in social, personal, environmental fields and more.

  • Where are the project taking place? Which are the fields covered?

The project are taking place in:

  • Creativity and culture (cultural centers, NGOs working in the cultural sector…)
  • Education and training (primary and secondary school, kindergartens…)
  • Employment and entrepreneurship (NGOs, youth centers..)
  • Environment and natural protection
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Physical education and sport
  • Working with refugees and migrants
  • Social challenges
  • Disaster prevention and recovery

The typical hosting institutions are NGOs and cultural foundations, schools, youth centers, kindergartens, library, museums, daycare centers for disabled and elderies and more.

  • Which are the benefit?

The benefits for the volunteer are always including:

  • accommodation in a single or a double room (depending on the organization budget) in a location easily reacheable from the workplace. The volunteer does not need to worry about furniture or household item because it is duty of the organization to make the place comfortable for the occupant. The apartment is usually shared with other volunteers participating in the program or local young people.
  • a monthly stipend of pocket money, varying according to the country (in Poland, for example, it is about 20 zl for day, 4€)
  • a monthly stipend for food expenses (in Poland, 15 zl for day, 3€). Especially in short term projects, instead of that, meals can be simply provided on the workplace.
  • a public transport card (for long term project)
  • reimbursement for travel expenses according to the distance

In addition to that, volunteers are often provided with training and they can benefit of a mentor figure, which follows them during the project.

  • I already partecipated in a long-term or short term ESC project: can I apply for another one?

A participant who has completed a long term volunteering activity (longer than 2 months) funded by the European Voluntary Service is not eligible to participate in another long term volunteering activity funded by the European Solidarity Corps. However, she or he can participate in volunteering teams. If you took part in a short term individual volunteering, you are still elegible for both the other possibilities.

The total duration (long + short term) of the European Solidarity Corps partecipation shall not exceed 14 months.

  • When can I apply? How much before the start date I have in my mind should I apply?

The opportunities are run continuosly during the year. Therefore, every period is good for applying. Keep in mind that, if you decide to apply for a project, you are required commitment until the end: pay attention to starting and ending date.

There is not a specific guideline on how much early before the desired start date a person should look for an opportunity: the application deathline depends on the specific organisation, and it can as early as 6 month in advance, as well as a last-minute opportunity, where the start date will be right after the application acceptance. Indicatively, it is recommendable to start looking for a project 2-4 months in advance: for example, if you wish to have your experience during the summer, you should start to check the projects database around March, or, for a long-term experience to start in September, you should start to look around in May-June.

  • Do I need to pay a fee for partecipating in the program?

No, there is no fee to pay. The European Solidarity Corps is financed by the European Union. Volunteers are actually getting a small stipend to cover their living expenses in the host country.

  • Which are the steps for the application? Where I can find the avaiable projects?

Step 1: create your account in the European Youth Portal

Step 2: once you created it, you are going to be able to see all the placement opportunities avaible for your nationality. This is how the navigation portal will look like:

Step 3: Update your profile. In the “My profile” section you will have the possibility to update all your personal information, such as education history, experiences, skills, fields of interest. You have also the opportunity to upload your CV. Updating your profile is extremely important since it is, when you apply, what the organisations are going to be able to know about you, influencing therefore their decision of contacting you back or not.

Step 4: Send your applications. in the “Opportunties” section you will see all the organisation currently holding open calls. This is how a typical open call will look like: you will find all the useful information, including job description, living arragements, pocket money and description of the ideal candidate. If you wish to apply, trough the button APPLY you will send an interest request of interest to the organization, who will eventually contact you back.

NOTE: read carefully the description of the opportunity. Often organizations are putting there a link to an external application form, which you are required to fill out in order to apply. Also, it takes usually a few applications before you receive a positive answer: therefore, remember not to focus on just one opportunity, but to apply to several one. It takes in averange about 10 application before being accepted to a project.

Alternative resources: sometimes organisations decide, instead of publishing their opportunity on the European Youth Portal, to advertise their opportunity trough other medias, such as Facebook.

ESC – European Solidarity Corps – EVS – European Voluntary Service is the biggest Facebook group with over 45k members where you can find opportunties on daily basis. Here is the link. Remember that, if you apply to an opportunity trough Facebook, you are still required to create an account on the European Youth Portal.

It can also happen that organisation are independely looking for candidates: in the email you used for the registration, it might happen to you to find then a request for contact. It means that the organisation is explicitely interested in your profile, and, by accepting the request, you are going to put yourself in direct contect with them. You will be still required to send your CV, cover letter and fill out an application form.

If you don’t find the right answers – you need extra support feel free to contact us: we will try our best to help you out

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