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?
The 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 is 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. The programme aims to develop solidarity, inter-cultural understanding and respect 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 activities that last from 2 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, human rights, 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 the integration of migrants. NOTE: We are not organising volunteering teams until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the end of an ESC project, you will receive your Youthpass certificate – a document 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 is accredited by Leargas, the national EU agency in Ireland, as an ESC coordinating, sending and hosting organisation and we have many years’ experience of working through the programme.
We support volunteers at all stages of their projects:
- Providing info- We can talk with you by phone or online via WhatsApp, Skype or Zoom to give you more info, please use the contact details below to arrange this.
- Support and guidance with finding and applying for a project - Applicants will receive tailored support and assistance with finding and applying for a project. Applicants will have the opportunity to have an informal one-to-one chat with our either our Programmes Officer or Programmes Coordinator to discuss what opportunities are available. You can sign up with VSI as your ESC sending organisation and we will get in touch with you to support you. Please 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. We can also put you in touch with former ESC volunteers who are happy to talk about their ESC experiences with new volunteers.
- Support during the project– once registered with VSI as your sending organisation VSI will keep in regular contact with you throughout your volunteer project.
- Debriefing/evaluation and ‘next steps’ after the project and how to use your experience. We also provide guidance regarding further education, training or employment opportunities.
Please note that currently all support, preparation and training is conducted ONLINE.
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.
- VSI can help you to find a project and we can also help arrange a more tailor-made project for you. Please sign up with VSI as your sending organisation or alternatively contact Aine at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
VSI are not currently sending ESC volunteers but in this section we are giving you some info on how to apply when you can.
You can apply through VSI or through the ESC database, either way, follow the instructions in the project description. Usually this is similar to applying for a job and you will need to create a profile, upload your CV (check out the Europass CV template which is a standard form of a CV in many EU countries), write a motivation statement and some host organisations may also ask you to complete an application form. Some organisations will ask you to forward a section 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. When this happens, pleaselet us know if you are invited for an interview and contact us if you need support with preparing for it.
The hosting organisation will you know if you are selected and we will be in touch with you to begin the preparation. VSI and the ESC hosting organisation will then start the formal process.
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 do not needqualifications 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, pre-departure training and orientation programme for all aspects of their volunteer project. In addition, ESC volunteers will participate in an on-arrival training and a mid-term evaluation seminar (if your project is 6 months or more in duration) in your host country.
To register with VSI as your sending organisation tell us a bit more about yourself and sign up with VSI as your ESC sending organisation
In general, an individual can take part in only one ESC volunteer project, 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 Aine at email@example.com or talk about it with your youth or social 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?
Volunteer Stories from some of our returned ESC and EVS volunteers
Info from Leargas, the Irish National Agency for ESC
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 83 025 0179
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.