European Voluntary Service (EVS)

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Last month the team of NGO-Jobs.eu met the president of SCI – Service Civil International, Ms. Valentine Costa, to talk about the European Voluntary Service (EVS).

SCI is currently one of Austria’s sending organisations to EVS-projects in European countries and also a coordinating organisation of the EVS-programme. Read more about the 70-year-old peace organisation with five years of experience to share about the EVS in our NGO-Magazin article this week.

What is the EVS-programme?

The EVS is an international volunteering programme and a learning experience financed by the European Commission and organised by Erasmus+. Young people can participate in a project for a period up to 12 months in European countries and neighbouring countries as well (e.g. Turkey, Russia), though most of the projects are located within the EU.

Who can participate?

There are few requirements for EVS-candidates:

  • Age group: 17 – 30 years
  • The country of residence (not the nationality) should be a European country
  • The motivation of the applicant is the most important criteria for the selection process.
  • Basic knowledge of English language, sometimes basic language skills of the hosting country are needed for a few and very specific projects.
  • No other professional work experience or education is needed/required.

How to apply?

At first the applicant needs to find an appropriate sending organisation, usually near their place of residence (Bundesland).

The sending organisation is in charge to support the applicant in his/her project research, explaining the different aspects of the EVS and how to look for projects and organisations of his/her interest on the EVS databases.

Look and apply for a specific project: https://europa.eu/youth/volunteering_en

Or look for an organisation and send an open application: https://europa.eu/youth/volunteering/evs-organisation_en

The application process:

Candidates can choose their project according to:

  • the topic (children, elderly, health, social welfare, environment, art and culture, sports etc.) and
  • the country of destination (the language spoken within this country is often a criteria for volunteers)

The motivation letter is an essential part of the application process. It is therefore recommended to draft an individual motivation letter for each application. The motivation letter should express the expectation and interest of the applicant.

Some candidates make very unique and creative applications, such as video messages to the hosting organisation, but it is not mandatory.

We advise applicants to use the EUROPASS format to design their CV.

It is essential to start looking for a project 6-8 months before your planned departure. Pay attention as well to the application deadlines of each project, when provided on the database!

Valentine (SCI) suggests that applicants apply for at least 10 different projects.

After being selected by a hosting organisation, every candidate will be invited to a skype interview in English.

If that goes well, the candidate receives a positive answer of a hosting organisation and gets accepted for the project. Now the applicant informs his/her sending organisation, which will go through all further necessary administrative steps with the hosting organisation. The funding application has to be sent to the National Agency and after the deadline it will take at least 2 months to get the answer if the project will be financed. Patience is definitely a key to the EVS!

The EVS-programme covers the following costs:

  • Health insurance
  • Travel costs to/from the host country (arrival & departure)
  • Accommodation
  • Food allowance
  • Pocket money (amount depending on the hosting country)
  • A language course
  • Transportation costs from accommodation to the working place
  • Volunteer trainings (On-arrival & mid-term training)
  • The volunteer will also be accompanied all along the project by a mentor.

Tips & Advices!

  • If candidates apply for many projects, it might be helpful to make an excel file with all projects and organisations you applied for, to keep an overview.
  • Stay open minded and check out countries and topics which you did not consider at first.
  • Think about the environment/location you want to live in, if you prefer villages, small towns or big cities etc.
  • Check the accommodation conditions, if the project offers single flats, shared apartments or family/homestays. These conditions mostly depend on the budget of the hosting organisation.
  • Don´t give up, if you are not getting answers from hosting organisations immediately and feel free to contact them approximately two weeks after your application date.

If you want further information about the EVS-programme, feel free to contact SCI-Austria at langzeit@sci.or.at

For more information about the EVS and SCI’s other volunteering projects, go to http://www.sci.or.at/langzeitprojekte/europaeischer-freiwilligendienst-efd/

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