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.
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 € 155. You will receive your deposit back once you have completed your first month in a project.
Finding a project is similar to searching for a job. You can react to calls from organisations, which are looking for volunteers, or you can get in touch directly with organisations and ask if they could need a volunteer. In the second scenario, the easiest way is to reach out to organisations that have been previously approved by the EU as ESC organisations. You can find an overview of these organisations in this database: europa.eu/youth/volunteering/evs-organisation_en .
Due to the size of this database it is not always up to date. Luckily, there are other ways to find current vacancies, for e.g. through a smaller database. This will be discussed in your introduction meeting. Additionally, SIW is in contact with many partner organisations in Europe. These organisations send frequently messages to SIW indicating that they are looking for a volunteer. We call those ‘open calls’ and we share them with the interested ESC volunteers. This is a fast way for volunteers to find a great 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.