EVS is the European Voluntary Service which is a project aimed at supporting volunteering in Europe through Erasmus +. EVS aims at enhancing active citizenship, solidarity and mutual understanding among young people through unpaid voluntary work. EVS volunteers generally provide a service to a local community, but also receive regular training and a strong personal and task related support. EVS thus is an important non-formal learning experience for young people, which is documented by means of an EVS certificate. Through EVS, volunteers can increase key competences that are necessary to be active citizens and to improve their educational and employment prospects.
EVS, which is administered by Léargas, funds volunteers from one European country to spend time – typically six to 12 months – working as a volunteer in a not-for-profit organisation in another country. Everyone benefits: the volunteer gains experience, skills and an insight into a different way of living, while the host organisation, and those it cares for, benefit from the energy and enthusiasm of the young person, while learning about another culture.
There are many benefits for the young person participating in this programme. Firstly it allows them to participate in a structured and supported volunteering programme that is financially assisted through the provision of living costs, a small allowance, health insurance and local transportation. Depending on where is the service is taking place, the participant may also receive a subsidy towards the cost of international travel to and from the country.
All participants receive pre-departure training and language classes on arrival. Each participant is assigned a mentor who will help them to get settled, learn about the organisation and support their development during the volunteering service. The mentor supports the participant in developing their key competencies under the following areas. The participants outline their own objectives and evaluations of their development in the Youthpass which is a formal document recognised by employers throughout Europe. It gives recognition to the skills and competencies gained through volunteering.
There are two types of service that you can do, short term and long term. The shortest length of a service can be two weeks lasting up to twelve months.
Myself and two other Scouters from Kildare and Limerick participated in this programme while working as the International Service Team (IST) for the 15th World Scout Moot in Iceland last summer over the period of two weeks. As part of this experience we arrived two days before all the other IST were expected to start. This was to allow for us to get to know each other and begin our training. We joined a group of approximately fifty others from the around Europe aged 26 to 30 years old. Part of this included games, beginning the Youthpass, Icelandic lessons and starting our volunteering for the Moot.
During the Moot we met over two evenings while at the base camp in Ulfljotsvatn Campsite. This was to allow for us to check in with others, refocus on the objectives we had set ourselves and to talk with our mentors.
After the Moot there was a closing session followed by a celebratory dinner to mark the end of our volunteering experience. On arrival back in Ireland we were required to complete a dissemination event to others in our community or organisation who would be interested in participating in EVS. We also had to complete our own Youthpass. Overall the benefits for us of participating in EVS at the Moot were that we got to know a medium sized group of international Scouters before and entering into the large pool of six hundred staff. This made it easier for us to settle into the site and allowed for some friendly and recognisable faces wherever we went. The training allowed us to recognise the key competences that were being developed during the event. Of course the financial benefits of EVS made a difference – our flights to Iceland were subsidised, we were given a discounted IST fee and we received a small allowance based on how many days we were there.
We would definitely recommend EVS to others who are interested in travelling and gaining valuable volunteering experience. Please note EVS is not limited Scouts but is open to anyone aged 17 to 30 years old. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or within Scouting Ireland email@example.com.