Last Updated on Thursday, 03 November 2011 13:17 Thursday, 03 November 2011 12:29
The basis for European Voluntary Service is the existence of a number of places where volunteers can do their voluntary service. EVS brings together a large number of different organizations, projects, local authorities and other initiatives. Their contribution to European Voluntary Service is essential. By welcoming a volunteer, a host organization will bring new ideas, an added value and intercultural elements into its regular activities. It could also have an interesting exchange of experience with the sending organization through the volunteer.
If you would like to participate in EVS as a host organization:
An organization wanting to host a volunteer starts with applying for approval of it's host project with the application "Expression of Interest" (see Downloads). Approval of the applications are considered every month by the European Commission.
There are no application deadlines for the approval of host projects. As an approved host the project will be available for volunteers and sending organizations all over Europe. Most will within short time receive many approaches from youngsters wanting to be a volunteer in this project. It's important that these youngsters receive a quick answer to their approach - for many of them this is about very close future.
Of course, it is also possible to arrange a cooperation with a volunteer and a sending organization in advance. Many host organizations uses their international contacts for choosing a volunteer for their project. You can also take the initiative to contact organizations which you know from before or have cooperated with earlier, for example within other European programs or other activities.
Please note the following criteria:
Learning opportunities: Clear learning opportunities for the volunteer have to be identified.
Job substitution: The use of volunteers to replace paid employees is not allowed.
Recruitment: Host organizations cannot specify that volunteers should be of a specific ethnic group, religion, sexual orientation or political opinion. They must be open to all young people and cannot impose any specific selection criteria such as previous qualifications, experience and more than basic language knowledge.
Tasks: EVS volunteers must have the opportunity to carry out a well-defined set of tasks. Enough leeway should be left for integrating the volunteer’s ideas, creativity and experiences into the project. The voluntary activity (training included) should take up between 30 and 35 hours per week. A detailed task description providing examples and percentages of the tasks as well as an indicative daily or weekly timetable are required.
In order to avoid double funding and to ensure that the philosophy of EVS is respected, an EVS volunteer may not carry out tasks which serve to support another EVS-funded project (i.e. may not be responsible for project management or for the recruitment or training of other EVS volunteers).
Concerning routine tasks, please pay particular attention to the fact that the volunteer must not carry out routine tasks or tasks of professional staff, in order to avoid job substitution and/or excessive responsibility for the volunteer. The volunteer must be supervised and guided by experienced staff.
These general rules are applicable to all project types, and of special importance in the following project settings:
- Social care projects, where volunteers have to deal with vulnerable clients or patients (babies, children, the ill, elderly, disabled, etc.); a volunteer cannot be solely responsible for the day-to-day care of individuals.
- Teaching projects: as EVS is about non-formal education, teaching assistance in the formal education system is ineligible. Projects taking place at institutions within the formal education system must focus on extra-curricular tasks.
- In office-based projects (e.g. at ENGYOs), the volunteer should have a specific set of tasks, preferably project-based, to carry out.
The host organization is responsible for arranging the following:
Volunteers’ tasks should reflect their individual abilities and desires. Persons who are familiar with those tasks should guide them. The host organization is also responsible for sending the volunteer to the mid-term meeting.
To avoid and overcome any difficulties, either in volunteers’ personal lives or in their activities in the host organization, sufficient personal support should be provided for volunteers. They should be given opportunities to integrate into the local community, to meet other young people, to socialize, to participate in leisure activities, etc. Contacts with other EVS volunteers should be encouraged whenever possible.
Each host organization must identify a mentor who is directly responsible for training, personal support and language training for the volunteer and to whom the volunteer can turn in case of problems. The mentor should not be the volunteer’s supervisor or another person involved in the volunteer's project.
Language skills have long-term benefits in addition to helping the volunteer to integrate into the host culture. The host organization is responsible for arranging language learning opportunities. The format, duration and frequency of this training can vary depending on volunteers’ needs and abilities, their tasks in the host project, and the possibilities of the host organization. Language training must be free of charge for the volunteer and included in regular working time.
The host organization has to provide suitable accommodation for the volunteer.
The host organization is responsible for providing meals, or a food allowance, for the volunteer.
The host organization must provide means of local transport for the volunteer.
The host organization must pay an allowance to the volunteer on a weekly or monthly basis (the amount is included in the grant from the YOUTH program).
The host organization has a shared responsibility with the sending organization to arrange a visa for the volunteer. The National Agency/National Coordinator and the European Commission can issue visa support letters if required.
Choosing a project
Before you apply, be really really sure that the project and all the conditions fit to you!!! If you have questions: ask, write, phone ten times to the organization before applying.
It is important to understand that EVS is not a normal job: apart from the working hours, you will live many months spending the rest of the day with the other volunteers, if there are, and your life will be closely linked to the organization. Besides, it is not easy to change to another project if you don't like it and surely it is not good for any part.
Stopping your project
There must be a serious reason to stop your project and start a new one. To stop, you must discuss this with your organization and, after, with the National Agency. They will try to find a new project for you if you want, but you must know that it is not always possible.
Besides, stopping a project is not only bad for the volunteer, who stops the project because he or she feels bad or unsatisfied, but also for the organization because there are deadlines for applying for volunteers so probably your place will stay empty.
That's why: be really really sure when you choose the project!
Writing the motivation letter
If you are going to write the same letter to apply to many projects, try not to make it too obvious. Organizations receive many letters and can tell which letters are written especially for them and which not...
Try also not to be far too much enthusiastic about the organization and the project if it's not true ("it is the project of my dreams!", etc). Just be honest!! Organizations will appreciate this.
Explain who you are, what you expect, what you like. The human factor is very important for EVS because, as we said, you will spend all day with the other volunteers and the organization.
If you have any physical or psychological problems, you should tell your new "family" at least when you arrive. It is very important that you make sure that they aware and they know how to react to things such as allergies, phobias, epilepsy, somnambulism, asthma attacks, etc.
Any type of non-governmental organization, an association, a local authority or any other non-profit-making local initiative can be a sending organization. For a sending organization, EVS offers an opportunity to establish a cooperation and to exchange experience with a partner in a Program country.
The most important task of a sending organization is to provide pre-departure training and prepare the volunteer for the stay abroad.
The sending organization is responsible for arranging the following:
Preparation: The preparation required includes helping the volunteer to find and contact a host organization. In addition, volunteers need to be prepared for their stay abroad according to their individual needs (including possible visa requirements etc.). The sending organization is obliged to make sure that the volunteer attends a pre-departure training session.
Contact during voluntary service: The sending organization should keep in contact with the volunteer and with the host organization during the project in order to avoid crises. It will also help organize follow-up after the volunteer’s return.
Evaluation and follow-up: The sending organization should ensure proper evaluation of the EVS project together with the volunteer. Volunteers should receive help with reintegrating into their home community. The sending organization should give volunteers an opportunity to exchange and share their experiences and must also support them, e.g. by providing information about other possibilities within the YOUTH program (especially Action 3 - Future Capital) and by helping them into further education, training or employment.
Visa: The sending organization has a shared responsibility with the host organization to arrange a visa for the volunteer. The National Agency/National Coordinator and the European Commission can issue visa support letters if required.
Insurance: The sending organization must ensure that the volunteer is covered by the obligatory EVS group insurance plan that the European Commission has contracted with an insurance company.