EVS – the European Voluntary Service – is a project run and funded by the European Commission. It enables young people to do voluntary work abroad for a period of up to 12 months. A volunteer’s country of service has to be different than his/her country of residence, and at least one of the countries involved has to be a member of the EU. Current EVS volunteers of Sofia City Library.
The volunteers get most of their travel costs and all their living expenses covered. Financially they live as modest-to-average people of the host country. Learning the local language is part of the programme, and language courses are provided regularly as part of an EVS project, as are introductions to the local culture.
In return the volunteers do full-time work in an area of their choice. Their work is NOT a substitute for paid employment. This means, a volunteer cannot replace a permanent member of staff at a host organisation but rather contributes with ‘extras’ such as new ideas, a foreigner’s perspective, and helping the permanent staff at whatever needs to be done.
Many volunteers, in addition to the said tasks, start and run their own personal projects. Such projects increase the host organisations’ scope of activities and simultaneously give the volunteers valuable skills and experience.
The host organisations typically are NGOs, public bodies, community initiatives. Often they are in remote locations and/or don’t have sufficient funds to hire many paid staff. Finally, the movement of people enabled by EVS contributes to a more integral Europe, one in which countries are bound not only by formal law but also by personal relationships of its citizens.
EVS is part of a broader European Commission programme called ‘Youth In Action’. The programme is coming to an end this year (2013) – the youth programmes are normally reviewed and modified every seven years.
At the time of writing, the European Commission are still deciding on what the 2014-2020 programme for young Europeans will include. We now know that it is probably going to be called ‘YES Europe’ and will possibly retain some of the established sub-programmes such as Leonardo da Vinci.
The future of the EVS as we know it is still uncertain but today we have heard some rumours that the EVS will probably remain too. We will keep you updated.”
Agne Drumelyte, EVS volunteer in Bulgaria.
Project Supported by the Youth In Action programme of the European Union.