European Solidarity Corps (ESC) or the old program European Voluntary Service (ESC) is an informal learning opportunity for young people aged 18-30 to spend between 2 weeks and 1 year abroad in a European country. It was specially designed for youth in order to gain precious experience working in non-profit organizations. ESC is now a separate program funded by the European Commission. Young people who want to develop their personal and professional skills abroad can choose a field of service according to their interests: art, culture, environment, sports, cultural heritage, awareness and democracy, activities with children, youth or people with disabilities, etc. At the end of the program, the learning process is recognized with a Youthpass Certificate. ESC is a unique opportunity for young people to learn more about other cultures, customs and traditions, to learn or improve a new language, to find new friends, and share experience with others. For many people, volunteering through ESC is the first step to shape their personalities and follow their dreams.
Since September 2015, "Stella" has been an accredited EVS sending organization which means that we can officially send Ukrainian young people to participate in volunteering projects in the European Union. So far, we have sent more than 250 volunteers and we have established cooperation with other NGOs in France, Denmark, Turkey, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic etc. You can find our organization in the main database of all accredited ESC organizations following this link. Our staff members have a lot of experience in participating and coordinating short and long term volunteering projects. We are always open for new cooperation and willing to send motivated young people from all over Ukraine to do their ESC projects. In case you are interested in exploring the presence of our volunteers in Europe, you can have a look at the map at the bottom of this page.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ESС PROGRAM
1. What is ESC (European Solidarity Corps) program?
ESC is a full-time voluntary service in Europe and it is a separate program developed by the European Union. The idea is to encourage young people to participate in social life through volunteering, to contribute to local communities, to develop skills for life, and to promote tolerance, mutual understanding and active citizenship.
2. Who can participate?
3. In which countries can I do my ESC volunteering project?
Residents of Ukraine can be volunteers only in the European Union countries, as well as in Iceland, Norway and Turkey.
4. What can a volunteer do?
There are many possible topics to choose from: working with children and youth, sports, social care, environmental protection, art and culture, gender equality, anti-discrimination, animal welfare, media and communication, and many more. Everyone can find something according to his/her interests.
5. How long does an ESC project last?
ESC projects can be short-term (between 2 weeks and 2 months) or long-term (between 2 months and 12 months). In fact, the majority of projects last no less than 6 months. ESC project can be done only once in a lifetime for a period no longer than 12 months. You can actually participate in one short term ESC project for 2 months and then, in a second long-term project for 10 months (the total duration of these projects cannot exceed 14 months). However, if you decide to choose a long-term ESC first, you cannot do any short-term projects afterwards.
6. Do I need any qualifications?
There are no qualification requirements in ESC program. However, you should have an intermediate level of English in order to communicate successfully with your colleagues. Basic knowledge of the language of your hosting country will help, but is not required.
7. What is the working language?
Usually the working language is English. However, a hosting organization has to provide you with an online course of the language which is spoken in the country of your EVS. In Portugal for instance, you would be learning Portuguese, in Spain – Spanish, in Slovakia - Slovakian etc. Some hosting organizations provide physical language classes with real teachers but it is not a rule.
8. How much will it cost?
It is free of charge! ESC program is funded by the grant of the European Commission. Volunteers participating in ESC volunteering projects will have their round-trip, accommodation, food, visa and health insurance fully covered. In addition, they will receive pocket money for their personal needs. The amount of pocket money and money for food is fixed for each country participating in the program.
9. What are the benefits of being a volunteer?
Volunteering can offer fantastic opportunities to spend time abroad, learn new skills and develop professional competencies, gain confidence and independence, improve language skills, participate in outdoor/indoor activities, contribute to the local host community, develop personal skills and expand one's worldview.
10. How can I become an ESC volunteer?
There are three parties involved in every ESC project: a sending (or supporting) organization, a hosting/coordinating organization, and a volunteer. Sometimes there can be four parties if hosting and coordinating organizations are different.
First, you need to find a sending organization that will arrange the sending and help you with information and documents. Your sending organization has to be accredited and should be in the database of all accredited ESC organizations that can oficially send volunteers abroad. “Stella” has this accreditation and is officially allowed to send Ukrainian EVS volunteers abroad. You can find our organization in the main database following this link. Then, you have to find a hosting organization that agrees to accept you as a volunteer. In order to find a hosting organization you need to look through the official database of ESC projects. First you need to register on the website and then you can start looking for projects.
You will need to send your CV together with a motivation letter to organizations that you are interested in, but be warned that many of them will not reply back. Therefore, the more requests you send, the higher are your chances of being accepted. However, we strongly encourage you to send your documents only for the projects that you are interested in, as you will spend a lot of time volunteering and it will be your main occupation. Hence, you should be really excited about your project!
11. What do I need to write in my motivation letter and CV?
Your motivation letter and CV should be written in English. However, if you can write in the language of the host country, you may do so. For example, if you are applying for a project in Germany, and you speak German, you can write them in German, but it is not obligatory.
Your CV summarizes your personal information, education, work experience, volunteering/social activities, competencies, language skills, computer knowledge, personal qualities, interests and hobbies. It should be well-structured and briefly outline the main points. Generally, a CV of 1-2 pages in length is more than enough.
Your motivation letter should not exceed 1 page. It is very important to tell about yourself, your social experience, and why you want to become a volunteer. In the second part, you should clearly justify your desire and willingness to participate in a particular project. Nowadays it is very useful to prepare your motivation letter in a creative way like an article from a magazine, a video, a power point or prezi presentation, etc. Usually, a lot of hosting organizations appreciate creativity, and because of the great number of candidates, they choose the most impressive ones. However, it is not required and it is up to every candidate how to present his/her documents.
12. Can I work and be an ESC volunteer at the same time?
While doing your ESC volunteering project you are not allowed to perform any professional activity. You will get a specific visa that does not give you permission to work.
ADDITIONAL USEFUL INFORMATION
If you want to read more about European Solidarity Corps program, you can download our document
If you want to know how and where you can find a volunteering project and hosting organization, you can download our document
If you want to find out how to improve your motivation letter, you can download our documents
If you do not have a CV yet and need a pattern, you can download it here.