With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for volunteers abroad.
Volunteering abroad is a way for you to enhance both your skills and your awareness of the various challenges around the globe. But how much do you know about the possibilities out there?
If you are a European citizen over the age of 18 or a long-term resident in the EU, you can become an EU aid volunteer. The initiative started in 2011 as a pilot project and is designed to contribute to providing humanitarian aid in disaster-affected communities all over the world. It gives you a chance to volunteer abroad for a period of 1 to 18 months. The programme covers the costs of accommodation, travel, insurance and a monthly allowance. By the end of 2017, more than 200 volunteers had been deployed to 28 non-EU countries to provide assistance in areas such as resilience building, gender issues support or disaster risk reduction. The places where you can volunteer include Senegal, Haiti and Colombia, among others. The programme also funds capacity building and communication. For the period 2014-2020, the EU Aid Volunteers initiative aims to deploy 4 000 EU citizens worldwide, so there are plenty opportunities for you to participate.
You can also volunteer in areas such as culture, environment and education thanks to another international volunteering initiative, the European Voluntary Service within the Erasmus+ programme. These projects are usually available in the EU or in neighbouring partner countries and last from 2 weeks to 12 months. In order to take part you must be aged between 17 and 30. So, now that you are fully informed, all you need to do is volunteer.
- EPRS publication on EU Aid Volunteers initiative, 2016 http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2016/593567/EPRS_BRI(2016)593567_EN.pdf
- European Commission’s website ‘EU Aid Volunteers’, http://ec.europa.eu/echo/what/humanitarian-aid/eu-aid-volunteers_en
- European Commission’s website ‘Erasmus +’, https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/opportunities/individuals/young-people/european-voluntary-service_en