Do you want to do volunteer work abroad, but not sure if you can afford it? ESC offers young people between 18 and 30 years old the chance to do volunteer subsidised work for 2 to 12 months in Europe. Check out the possibilities with the ESC projects via SIW.
ESC explained (formerly known as EVS)
The ESC (European Solidarity Corps, formerly known as European Voluntary Service, EVS) is part of the Erasmus + program from the European Union. Through this program you can do volunteer work in Europe for 2 to 12 months, with your expenses paid for. Young people between 18 and 30 years old can take part in an ESC project. In Europe there are hundreds of organisations and projects that take on ESC volunteers. The themes and target audiences are diverse: environmental protection, sport programs, music schools, with target audiences like children, deaf youth, elderly people, minorities and animals.
An European Solidarity Corps project is almost cost free!
- Travel expenses will be 90% reimbursed
- Free housing and food expenses reimbursed
- Additional health insurance paid for
- Each participant receives a monthly cash allowance
We became an international family!
Why is the European Union funding ESC?
Erasmus+ is a comprehensive European subsidy program for education, youth and sport. This program facilitates study or work abroad. ESC offers the possibility to do volunteer work in Europe. The EU, through the Erasmus+ program, wants to promote exchange and knowledge sharing between young Europeans. Experiences such as ESC are crucial for the constant development of people, regardless of their age or background.
What will the European Union expect from you?
Most importantly that you are driven and enthusiastic! You do not need a specific degree or work experience. Usually, during the project, you will have the opportunity to work on specific skills. There will be expected from you a degree of autonomy and that you follow a number of trainings, in the beginning and half-way through your stay abroad. The trainings are educational and bring you in contact with other ESC volunteers. This way you will get useful and fun networking experiences during your stay.
- You want to do volunteer work in an European country for the duration of 2 to 12 months;
- You are between 18 and 30 years old;
- No need for specific degree or work experience;
- You live in the Netherlands.
New in the ESC program: set up your own ESC project!
Have you always wanted to set up youth projects? The ESC program offers you a chance to show your solidarity within a group of at least five youngsters and organize a project within your own local community. The project should have a clear theme and can last from 2 to 12 months, just like any other ESC project. The costs of the project and coaching will be reimbursed by the EU (up to a maximum amount). SIW can offer additional support or apply for funding with the National Agency (in Dutch: NJI).
Would you like to know more about this special type of solidarity projects? Fill out the application form and indicate that you are interested in organizing a solidarity project. We will contact you as soon as possible.
How does it work?
An ESC project is mostly funded by the EU. The first thing is to request the subsidy. There are three fixed deadlines per year to request the EU subsidy: in February, April and October. After the subsidy is requested in Brussels, it will take a few months to be approved. Although it seems like this process takes a lot of time, it gives you enough time to find a project that is in line with your interests and to prepare for it.
In the next steps, you will find out how to proceed with your registration and how to start looking for a project.
You cannot wait anymore and want to start volunteering right away? Let us know! Sometimes there are projects available with subsidy in place, but with no volunteers yet. You could volunteer at one of these projects. The other option is to have a look in the regular (non-ESC) volunteering work.
To register please complete the form on the bottom of this page. A mentor from SIW will get in contact with you, as soon as possible, and arrange an introduction meeting. During this meeting, the different options will be discussed and you can also ask questions.
When the introduction meeting is successful from both sides (applicant and mentor), and you feel excited to join the adventure, you can now enrol for ESC through SIW. Enrolling via SIW will give you many benefits, such as:
- You will be assigned a mentor (usually the person who you met in your introduction meeting), who will help you find your ideal project and answer all your questions, before and during the duration of the project.
- You will receive emails, via SIW, from partner organisations, in the different ESC project countries, which are currently looking for volunteers.
- Once decided to join ESC, you can count on SIW as an organisation to be your guarantor.
For these benefits and for the time invested by our volunteer ESC mentors, we ask for a deposit of € 149. You will receive your deposit back once you have completed your first month in a project.
Within the new ESC structure, organizations proactively search the database for fitting candidates, meaning it’s important your data has been entered! You can do this through the following link: https://europa.eu/youth/solidarity_en
Many organisations will still leave the search up to you. In such cases, looking for a project is similar to finding a job. You can respond to calls from organizations looking for a volunteer, or you can inform whether or not an organization could use a volunteer. By far the easiest solution is to contact organizations which have been previously approved an an EVS organization by the EU. An overview of such organizations can be found in this database: europa.eu/youth/evs_database
This database is quite large though, and not always up to date. Luckily though, through SIW you can gain access to a smaller database (dating back to the period when we were working with EVS) which still contains current vacancies. In addition, SIW is in touch with many partner organizations in Europe. These partner organizations will often inform SIW when they are looking for a volunteer, and of course we will forward these messages to you! This can be a great help when looking for a project.
When you find a project that fits you and you have established positive contact with the organisation, we will proceed with requesting the Erasmus+ subsidy. We make sure that the subsidy is requested before the deadline (upcoming deadline is ). Therefore, you need to find the project and be in contact with the organisation one month before this deadline.
Roughly two months after requesting the subsidy we will receive an update. Usually we receive a positive response and you can start packing! Before your departure, you will need to follow training in The Netherlands to prepare you for the entire adventure. This training is organised by NJI. Assigned by two ministries, NJI is the National Representative of the Erasmus+.
Your most important occupation abroad is the ESC project, you will dedicate 30-36 hours per week. Next to this, you will follow 2 training sessions (in the beginning and half way through) with tips on how to get the most out of your ESC experience and to meet other ESC volunteers in the country. You will practice the spoken language, you will get to know yourself better and improve yourself. In your destination, you will be connected to a local mentor. Finally, you will have contact every month with your SIW mentor, with whom you will share your experiences and ask questions.
When you return to the Netherlands, you will have a wrap-up meeting with your SIW mentor. You will also do a written evaluation, to be sent to the EU. This report is needed to conclude your ESC project.
Are you back from an ESC project? We are curious to hear about your ESC experience and we would like to share it on our website. ESC is not yet very well-known in the Netherlands. Therefore, your story will help improving awareness of ESC within young people. Please get in touch with us, if you would like to share your story and photos.