European Solidarity Corps volunteering programme
Would you like to volunteer on a funded volunteer programme in Europe or neighbouring countries for up to 12 months?
European Solidarity Corps (ESC) volunteering programme gives young people (18-30 years old) the opportunity to volunteer either in their own country or abroad. It’s an initiative of the European Union and offers an inspiring and empowering experience for those interested in making a change and benefiting communities across Europe. It aims to develop solidarity, mutual understanding and tolerance among young people and to promote active citizenship.
You will receive free accommodation, food, insurance and a small personal allowance. Travel expenses are also covered (you might only have to pay very small part of those expenses if they exceed the budget). Support for language learning is provided.
Find out more from our returned ESC volunteers!
Individual ESC projects are full-time unpaid activities that last from 2 up to 12 months (though in some cases, volunteering activities of 2 weeks to 2 months can be arranged for young people with fewer opportunities). As a volunteer you can work in a wide range of fields, such as youth, children, disability, environment, arts and culture, animal welfare, and development cooperation.
Volunteering teams are solidarity activities allowing teams of 10 to 40 ESC volunteers from different countries to volunteer together for a period between 2 weeks and 2 months. Team projects usually address environmental and climate change challenges, European cultural heritage topics and integration of migrants.
At the end of an ESC project, you receive your Youthpass certificate – recognised across Europe. This confirms your participation in the programme and describes skills and learning gained during your project.
A successful ESC project requires close co-operation between the sending and hosting organisations and the volunteer. VSI has been accredited by Leargas, the national EU agency in Ireland, as an ESC coordinating, sending and hosting organisation and we have many years’ experience of sending and hosting ESC volunteers. We support volunteers at all stages of their projects:
- Providing info- you can contact us and talk to us over the phone or we can meet with you to give you more info, please use the contact details below to arrange this.
- Support with finding and applying for a project - register with VSI as your sending organisation and we will get in touch with you to support you. Also, see 'Find a project' below for links to our current exclusive vacancies, ESC projects database and other useful links.
- Preparation/pre-departure training– VSI provides a thorough and comprehensive preparation programme for our ESC volunteers. This includes info on your ESC project and host organisation, roles and responsibilities, understanding the ESC programme, what to expect and what to bring, insurance info and registration, finances and budgeting, visas/work permits, intercultural learning and dealing with culture shock.
- Support during the project– once registered with VSI as your sending organisation VSI will keep in regular contact with you at all stages throughout your volunteer project.
- Debriefing/evaluation and ‘next steps’ after the project.
Find a project
There are different ways to find an ESC project.
- Create a profile and search the ESC database – all the ESC vacancies are listed here.
- Have a look at VSI’s current vacancies. These are projects that VSI has arranged with our partners. VSI is the only organisation in Ireland that is recruiting volunteers for these projects – which means less competition!
- VSI can help you to find a project and we can also help arrange a more tailor-made project for you, complete our ESC Volunteer Application Formor contact us for more info.
You may apply through VSI or through the ESC database, either way, follow the instructions in the project description, usually it’s similar to applying for a job and you will need to upload your CV (you can check out Europass CV template which is a standard form of a CV in many EU countries) to your profile and write a motivation statement, some organisations may also ask you to complete an application form, sometimes with a section for you to forward to your sending organisation to complete. If the hosting organisation feels that you would be suitable for the position they will usually contact you to arrange an interview via Skype/Zoom. Please let us know if you are invited for an interview.
Once you are selected, VSI and the ESC hosting organisation will start the formal process and we will be in touch with you to begin the preparation.
It can take a few months between finding a project, being accepted and starting so start your project search as early as possible.
Organisations select the volunteers that they would like to host based on the interest, motivation and enthusiasm that the volunteer will bring to the project. You are not expected to have qualifications or work experience in any particular area and you cannot be excluded because you don't have them. You should be motivated and take care to make it clear to potential hosts that you are very interested in their work and would like to contribute to the organisation and the work they’re doing. In the end, the organisation will select the volunteer(s) who match best with the ESC role. Since ESC projects are mainly long term full-time commitments, it is important to choose a project that you are genuinely interested in.
Our staff will meet with each volunteer and organise an appropriate preparation and orientation programme for all aspects of their volunteer project. In addition, ESC volunteers join in on-arrival training and mid-term evaluation seminar (if your project is 6 months or more in duration) in your hosting country.
To register with VSI as your sending organisation tell us a bit more about yourself and complete this very short form.
In general, an individual can take part in only one ESC, and the maximum duration is 12 months. There is an exception to this if the volunteer takes part in a volunteering team ESC project or in a short term project up to 2 months but this would be arranged specially, contact us for more info. Also, if someone would need extra help to volunteer on the ESC programme, for example if you left school early or if you have a disability, then it’s possible to take part in 2 ESC projects, up to a total of 14 months. If you would like to take part in an ESC and think that you would need extra help you can contact us to discuss it privately, please contact Mateja: firstname.lastname@example.org, or talk about it with your youth worker.
If you have already completed a long term volunteering activity (longer than 2 months) funded by the ESC or former European Voluntary Service (EVS) programme, you are not eligible to participate in another long term volunteering activity funded by the European Solidarity Corps. However, you can still participate in other activities supported by the Corps such as traineeships, jobs, solidarity projects and volunteering teams.
Want to find out more?
Stories from some of our ESC and EVS volunteers: (scroll down to European Voluntary Service).
Info from Leargas, the Irish National Agency for ESC: https://www.leargas.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/European-Solidarity-Corps-Explore-Experience-Empower.pdf
You can also find very helpful FAQs on the ESC website: https://europa.eu/youth/solidarity/faq_en
VSI are here to help you at any stage of the ESC process, please do contact us with any questions and for any support!
Mobile/WhatsApp: +353 87 336 7275
Office: 01 855 1011
 The definition of young people with fewer opportunities is very broad. That's why within the European Youth in Action programme the target group is defined by the obstacles they face. The term "fewer opportunities" means that certain young people have fewer possibilities than their peers, for a variety of reasons. Young people with fewer opportunities are young people who, largely due to their personal situation and sometimes also due to the choices they make, face different and/or more difficult obstacles in their lives than other young people.