ESC Volunteering

Are you looking for an opportunity to gain some practical experience or live abroad for a while? Or maybe have you just finished high school and do you want to take a gap year to clear your mind and find out what is next? It might also be the case that you’ve graduated, or you’re in the middle of two semesters, and you’re looking for a valuable experience – not just an internship. Maybe, sometimes, you have had a strong desire to leave and you desperately googled: “Opportunities abroad”, the results were only short-term expensive English courses and unpaid internships in unaffordable cities. 

Obviously, you might have thought with a low-cost flight and an AirBnB accommodation you would have saved money, but wait a second! Don’t panic! We have a free and middle or long-term solution for you to go abroad! You can travel for free, know people from all over the world, and gain valuable experience in specific areas of expertise thanks to the European Solidarity Corps Programme.


What is the European Solidarity Corps?

The European Solidarity Corps Programme is an initiative of the European Commission and it replaced the European Voluntary Service, better known as EVS Since 1996, this programme has allowed hundreds of thousands of young people to gain valuable experience abroad, acquire new skills through specialised activities, have an impact on society, and act as European citizen.

The European Solidarity Corps (ESC) programme includes four different activities: 

  • volunteering projects;
  • volunteering teams in high priority area
  • solidarity projects;
  • humanitarian volunteering projects.

You find in this article all the necessary information about the ESC Volunteering Projects.

Who is eligible for the ESC volunteering?

Only people  between 18 and 30 years old are eligible for the European Solidarity Corps Projects. You can apply if you are still 17 years old, provided that you will be 18 before the beginning of the activities.

You can participate also if you reside in a European country or one of the following countries: 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 work?

There are two types of ESC volunteering projects: individual volunteering projects and group volunteering projects. The main differences between them are the duration of the project and the number of participants involved in the activities.

Individual Volunteering

Individual volunteering projects can last from a minimum of 2 months to a maximum of 12. In exceptional cases, to encourage the participation of young people with fewer opportunities, the project may also have a duration of less than 2 months and can be carried out in the country of residence of the volunteer. Individual volunteering is particularly recommended for those who want to have a longer and more professional experience.

ATTENTION: after completing an ESC volunteering project longer than 2 months, it will no longer be possible to apply for another long-term individual volunteering activity funded by the European Solidarity Corps Programme. That’s why you have to choose wisely the project you would like to participate in!

Group Volunteering

Group volunteering projects are activities that involve younger people, coming from at least two different countries, lasting from 2 weeks to 2 months

This type of project is mainly recommended if you have never done an experience abroad – a first step towards a future long-term individual volunteering project. Given its short duration, group volunteering is also perfect if you can’t participate in this type of project for longer periods, for study or work. 

Group volunteering projects do not have limitations such as long-term individual projects: you can participate in more than one projects.

What do you do in a ESC volunteering?

The volunteering projects of the European Solidarity Corps take place in more than 50 countries (the 27 members of the EU + partner countries) and cover an incredible variety of topics and activities. This means that you can choose among many options and it is highly recommended to analyse the different proposals. There are many ESC volunteering paths and activities thanks to the engagement of different stakeholders, such as institutions, private companies, non-governmental organizations and other entities of the third sector. 

You can find projects involving different topics, such as environment, arts, social sector and much more. You can find the most suitable project that meets your personal expectations and your growth objectives, you should just look for the right one!

During your ESC volunteering experience, you will have the opportunity to work full-time (from 30 to 38 hours per week) and to give your contribution to the hosting company or organization with your own ideas and abilities. Furthermore, as a regular worker, you will be entitled to days off and you spend this period travelling across your hosting country.

Why is an ESC volunteering an important experience?

The benefits of living a mobility experience are countless. This project will allow you to meet new people, discover new cultures and live in new places by opening your mind to new life perspectives. A traineeship abroad is more than a mere trip since it will allow you to develop relevant interpersonal and professional skills. 

Getting out of your comfort zone with a truly valuable experience abroad will allow you to be one step ahead when applying for jobs: employers will certify you gained a practical experience in an international environment and will appreciate your enterprising spirit. In addition, at the end of the project, you will get the Youthpass, a document certifying what you have learned during the project – also suitable as a reference for your CV. We are aware that this programme is currently not widespread in our country. However, you can include this experience in your Curriculum Vitae and you will get the same results. What’s more, by living abroad you will develop strong adaptive skills and learn how to be independent shortly.

Do not be afraid: participating in an ESC volunteering project means getting out there in a safe context where you will constantly get support! If you don’t know the language of the hosting country, no panic! 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, you will use English during your daily activities, and this will allow you to improve your second language.

How do I apply for an ESC volunteering project?

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

You just need to create a new account on this page to register on the portal. Once you have logged in, you will be able to access your profile on the platform and fill in all necessary information. It is highly recommended to enter as much data and answers as possible, from personal data to open questions about your personal purposes. The more complete the profile, the greater the chances of receiving feedback on your applications. If you want to better understand how to register for the European Youth Portal you can also follow this short guide.

You can check this map if you want to find new opportunities. There you can find all the ESC volunteering projects to apply for. You can also filter by different options, such as length or a departure month. At the same time, you can also filter by country. Once you have found the most suitable opportunity, you can send your application and wait for what to do next. You can receive a form to fill in from some organizations, or they can also check your availability for an online interview.

Another way to look for an ESC volunteering experience is to join our Facebook group. There you can read on the wall, every day, new mobility opportunities for Italian young citizens offered by different European organizations.

What expenses are included?

During an ESC volunteering experience, you don’t need to worry about spending a lot of money – most of the expenses for food and other essential services will be fully covered by the project.

The expenses included are:

    • room and board: the organization may provide you with accommodation (usually a room shared with other people involved in the projects) or give you a reasonable amount to rent a room in the city where you will carry out your activities. Food expenses will be also fully covered;
    • pocket money: every month you will get 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 €250,000;
  • trips: among the covered expenses there are also the travel costs to and from the place where you will carry out your activities. The maximum covered travel expenses vary by distance. All public transport expenses will be reimbursed: 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 will be reimbursed;
  • language course: the costs for learning the hosting country’s language will be reimbursed.

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