You’ve had an amazing idea to bring positive change to your local community and you’re ready to apply for Solidarity Projects funding. Great; but do you also have a group ready to run the project with you?
If recruiting people for your project concept seems challenging, check out the following tips to help you find your dream team.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Creating a group is a fundamental part of a Solidarity Project. This type of project must be implemented by a group of at least five young people aged between 18 and 30 years old in your local area.
You can call on your friends, but there are other ways to create a group. The age window is quite wide for this type of grassroot activity, so take advantage of this when looking for people from your community with similar interests.
Joining forces with like-minded people is a great opportunity to learn from others, complement each other’s skills, network and gain experience in working as a team, as well as a chance to make new friends. New characters can bring new perspectives that enhance your initial concept and also make them feel like a part of the project.
Use your own networks and social media channels
First, let’s look at two case studies from Erasmus+ youth exchange projects run by informal groups of young people.
Elizabeth Bull-Domican started with her existing networks; she set up Hidden Voices together with Shamas Khan in Birmingham in 2017, after they met on a leadership programme, and the pair have run several projects as part of a group since.
“It started with friends of friends, and colleagues who know other people. Shamas and I have different connections, so we ask them: ‘if you can’t come, do you know anyone else who would benefit from taking part?’” she said.
They also post opportunities on their Facebook page, which gives them visibility, and people reach out to them too.
“(...) we ask them: ‘if you can’t come, do you know anyone else who would benefit from taking part?’”
London-based group United Youth for Educational Development (UYED) used Facebook groups to find people who might be interested in taking part in their project and connecting with old friends. The informal group of young people was set up by former volunteers who wanted to provide similar opportunities in their local communities.
Monica Costea, UYED president, is a teacher in London who often works with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. She got in touch with a friend from university in Romania who also worked with young people with fewer opportunities to see if he would be interested in collaborating on a project on social inclusion.
“We found participants through a public call on Facebook groups. This worked really well for recruiting, alongside using our local connections,” said Dumitru Sorbala, dissemination lead for the partnership.
“We found participants through a public call on Facebook groups. This worked really well for recruiting (...)”
Although Solidarity Projects can only include young people in your local area, collaborations with counterparts elsewhere can help to inform your activities by allowing you to share good ideas and best practices. They can also improve the sustainability of your project, allowing you to make plans to work more closely together in the future.
More experienced people can act as coaches and advise you on any areas that your group needs support on.
Connect with other groups
Search online for youth groups and community centres nearby and ask if they can help you. They may be able to promote your project idea and identify suitable collaborators in your area.
EuropeersUK can also connect you with people in your region. This is a network of young people who have previously studied, worked or volunteered abroad. To find a EuroPeer in your local area, fill in a registration form. This will help them to gather information about your interests and experiences and let you know how you could network with their members.
Eurodesk also works with a network of Partners and Ambassadors across the UK. You can contact one in your local area to help you identify and/or put you in touch with someone interested in running a Solidarity Project. Alternatively, perhaps they could advertise your idea for you! Likewise, if you’re looking for project buddies on social media, you can tag @eurodeskuk and they will share your call.
Clearly show the benefits
When promoting your project idea, clearly communicate the benefits of getting involved. People will always want to know, ‘What’s in it for me?’, so be ready to answer that question. Let them know that by running a Solidarity Project, they could:
- improve their community;
- get practical experience while studying or working (did you know that it can be part time?);
- learn about project management and gain entrepreneurial skills;
- enhance their soft skills, like communication;
- impress recruiters, as it will look good on their CV;
- meet like-minded people; and
- improve their mental health and wellbeing by having a sense of purpose and increased skills and confidence.
Keep it real
When developing an idea, be realistic: avoid putting high expectations on your project, or even on your group. Recruit people who are like-minded and committed. Drop-outs might happen for any number of reasons, so keep nurturing the connections you are building in case you need replacements, or even in case that new opportunities arise.
Although the minimum number of people in your group is five, there is not a maximum number of participants, so make sure to register all members of your group on the European Solidarity Corps Portal. Good luck with your application!