ESC Volunteering Teams in High Priority Areas

Do you have a strong desire to volunteer and do you want to work on the field, to help where it is needed? Are you looking for a project that allows you to do it safely and leave for a few months toward territories in crisis? The desire to grab your backpack and walk to your next destination brought you to look online for different opportunities, but you have only found volunteering camps with expensive registration fees and no reimbursement. As a result, you are you accepting to pay for valuable hours of work. 

Don’t do that! The solution for a free volunteering opportunity without expenses that you are looking for is guaranteed by the European Solidarity Corps, programme of the European Union. Thanks to volunteering teams in high-priority areas you will have the opportunity to take part in a group of volunteers coming from all over Europe, who will bring their forces to help people in these areas.


What is the European Solidarity Corps?

The European Solidarity Corps programme is part of the European Commission’s initiative to replace the European Voluntary Service, commonly known as EVS. Since 1996, these programmes have allowed hundreds of thousands of young people to have a valuable experience in another country, acquire new skills through high-profile activities, have an impact on society, and feel like true EU citizens.

Within the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) programme there are four different activities: 

  • Volunteering projects;
  • Volunteering Teams in high-priority areas;
  • Solidarity projects;
  • Humanitarian Aid Volunteering Projects.

In this article, we explain everything you need to know about ESC volunteering teams in high-priority areas.

Who is eligible for ESC volunteering teams in high-priority areas?

Young people who on the day of the start of the project have reached the age of 18 and have not reached the age of 30 may participate in ESC volunteering projects. It will be possible to apply for a volunteering project if the candidate is still 17 years old, provided that on the starting date of the activities, he or she will be of age.

Those who reside in a European Union country or in the following countries can also participate in ESC volunteering projects: Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia Herzegovina, Egypt, Georgia, Jordan, Iceland, Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Morocco, Moldova, North Macedonia, Norway, Palestine, Russia, Serbia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, and Ukraine.

How does ESC Volunteering Teams in High Priority Areas work?

Volunteering teams in high-priority areas are activities that involve a minimum of 5 young people from different countries, for a period that can range from 2 weeks to 2 months.

This type of project is particularly recommended for those who never had experience abroad. Therefore, it can be considered a first step towards a future, individual, long-term project, such as the individual ESC volunteer project. Given its short duration, group volunteering is perfect for those who cannot participate, for study or work, in this type of project for long periods.

What do you do during an ESC Volunteering Teams in High Priority Areas project?

Taking part in a volunteering team in high-priority areas means participating in a large-scale project with a high local impact, where young people carry out intervention activities in the defined areas. This year’s priority will be on COVID-19 and the impact it has had on our society. Particular attention will be paid to activities in the health and social fields. Several examples may include the promotion of healthy lifestyles, physical activity, and well-being as a whole, as well as actions aimed at protecting the most vulnerable groups such as migrants, people with addictions, the homeless, and the elderly.

During your experience in volunteering teams, you will have the opportunity to work within organisations and associations that act on these high-priority issues. You will be able to contribute effectively, with your own ideas and your skills. You will work side by side with a group of young people from all over Europe (and beyond) to achieve a common goal: having a positive impact on the territory. You will learn to deal with different cultures, develop flexible skills, and acquire flexibility that only working in a team abroad can provide.

Why should you do this experience with ESC Volunteering Teams in High Priority Areas?

It is not possible to quantify what a European mobility experience can give you in terms of benefits. The people you will meet, the new cultures you will discover, and the places you will live in will help you broaden your horizon and open your mind to other perspectives and points of view. Unlike a simple trip, an experience like this will allow you to develop deep relational, linguistic, and work skills. 

Getting out of your comfort zone with a truly relevant experience abroad will allow you to be a step ahead when applying for jobs. Employers will know that you have already gained a practical experience in an international environment and will appreciate your enterprising spirit. In addition, at the end of the project, you will receive the Youthpass, a document certifying what you have learned during this time that you can attach to your curriculum vitae. We are aware that this programme is not currently popular in some countries, but we assure you that by including this experience in your curriculum you will have the same expected results. What’s more, living abroad will allow you to develop strong adaptive skills and teach you how to be independent more rapidly.

Do not be afraid! Participating in an ESC volunteering project means putting yourself out there but in a safe environment where you will constantly receive assistance and support! If you don’t know the language of the hosting country, it doesn’t matter! During your ESC volunteering you will get the opportunity to attend a free language course through the OLS training (Online Linguistic Support) that will allow you to start as a beginner or enhance your language skills. Moreover, since in most cases, you will use English during daily activities, this will allow you to practice your second language. 

How can you apply to ESC Volunteering Teams in High Priority Areas project?

If we managed to convince you, now you may be wondering: how do I look for these volunteering opportunities and how can I apply? There are several ways to search for ESC experiences and send your application. However, it is important to keep in mind is that all ESC volunteers must register on the European Youth Portal.

To register on the portal you just need to create a new account on this page. Once you have logged in, you will be able to access your profile on the platform and fill in all the necessary information. It will be essential to enter the largest number of data and answers, from personal data to open questions about personal motivation. The more complete the profile, the greater the chances of receiving answers once the applications are submitted. If you want to better understand how to register on the European Youth Portal you can also follow this short guide.

To look for opportunities, you can consult this map where you can find all the ongoing ESC volunteering projects with open positions for young volunteers. You can also apply different filters to your research, like a specific time frame or the month of departure. At the same time, you can also filter to a specific country. Once you have found the opportunity that suits you, you can send your application and wait for new instructions. Some organisations may send you a form to fill out, others may immediately ask for your availability for an online interview.

Another way to look for an ESC volunteering experience is to join our Facebook group and check the board. There, you can find every day posts from different organisations from all over Europe on mobility opportunities, specifically aimed at young residents in Italy.

What are the expenses covered?

During an ESC volunteering experience, you won’t have to worry about spending significant amounts – most of the expenses for food and other essential services will be fully covered by the project.

The covered expenses are the following:

  • room and board: the organisation may provide accommodation (usually a room shared with other people involved in the projects) or give you a reasonable sum to rent a room in the city where you will carry out your activities. Food expenses will also be fully covered;
  • pocket money: every month you will receive a contribution for extra personal expenses;
  • health insurance: during an ESC volunteering project you will have private health insurance that will cover all medical expenses up to a maximum of €250,000;
  • trips: the reimbursed expenses also include the travel costs to and from the place where you will carry out your activities within the project. The maximum eligible amount covered by the project is defined according to distance. Public transport expenses will be refunded: flights, trains, buses, and public transport to reach the stations or the airport;
  • visas and residence permits: all documents required by the country of arrival are refunded;
  • language course: the costs for learning the local language will be refundable.

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