Forget the same old resolutions for the New Year. With the European Solidarity Corps, you can try something new while making an impact to society. If you are unsure how you can make this happen, here are some great stories from volunteers to get you inspired to take part in this initiative.
We caught up with Kes, Daniel (photo above) and Ragna during the European Solidarity Corps UK launch event in London. As participants from the predecessor initiative (the European Voluntary Service, EVS, under Erasmus+), they inspired stakeholders by sharing their stories during the launch.
Whether it was moving to a new country, learning a different language or helping local communities, their experiences truly reflect the power of volunteering and the possibilities that the European Solidarity Corps will continue to offer young people up and down the UK.
Check out their stories below and find out how to get involved. UK organisations will soon be able to apply for funding to their projects under the 2019 Call – for young people, it means that more opportunities will be available on the Solidarity Corps’ portal in the new year.
At 18, Kes Stephenson was unsure about the prospect of university. Looking for an opportunity further afield, Kes found a 12-month volunteer placement in Italy with UNA Exchange, where he would be teaching English in local schools. For Kes, his time abroad gave him the opportunity to explore a new culture, to travel and most importantly discover a new passion for teaching. Two years on, the future looks bright. Kes is now coming to the end of a degree in English at Cardiff University and is looking forward to gaining a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) qualification so he can continue his love for teaching, learning and travel.
“If I hadn’t done my EVS, I wouldn’t be where I am now… finishing my degree and looking forward to a career in education.”
When Daniel Cairney began his volunteering placement in Moldova, he had no idea of the direction it would take him in. In stark contrast to his arts degree, Daniel’s volunteer placement with UNA Exchange provided him with some hands on experience in the field of animal care. Shifting him further out of his comfort zone, the move to Moldova also allowed Daniel to practice and start communicating in Russian, a language he never thought he would have the chance to learn. Luckily, Daniel credits these challenges as the main reason for his new career path. Back in the UK, Daniel is currently working for the animal rights organisation Blue Cross and looking forward to building off his volunteering experiences in the future!
“I have realised that I wanted to carry on with the work that I have been doing through my placement, and therefore, started working with the Blue Cross. If I have not completed my EVS, I would have not had this job opportunity.”
Straight out of high school, Ragna Kuhn knew that a volunteering placement was something she wanted to do. With the help of her family, she was able to locate a sending organisation in her hometown of Rostock, Germany, and found a 12-month EVS placement in Dudley, West Midlands, with the High Oak Youth Community Centre. For Ragna, her volunteer placement varies from one day to the next and involves everything from youth work and elderly care to community projects. But it’s not just the work that Ragna has enjoyed. For her, real highlights of the placement have been sharing a house with other volunteers, travelling to beautiful Wales and taking part in the arrival training in Glasgow. With seven months left, she can’t wait to see where her placement will take her next!
“This project works with young people, old people, and community projects… everything! I am never bored and there is always something for me to do.”