By Felix Do Nascimento
Last month we were delighted to announce our involvement in the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) programme after receiving the Quality Label as volunteers hosting organisation. We would like now to share how we intend to contribute to this great initiative which aims at promoting solidarity among young people in Europe.
What are the European Solidarity Corps Quality objectives and missions?
The European Solidarity Corps is the Programme of the European Union providing young people, with the support of participating organisations, opportunities to engage with solidarity activities while improving their competences for “personal, educational, social, civic, cultural and professional development” (European Commission , 2020).
The ESC is the EU programme that replaced the European Voluntary Services in 2018, offering more opportunities for young people from 18 to 30 years old to train and acquire knowledge by participating in missions of solidarity across Europe.
Solidarity activities widely vary according to countries, projects and organisations’ fields such as; humanitarian and charity work, the promotion of sustainable and ecological communities, access to arts, culture and education, community work, supporting the inclusion of minorities and disadvantaged people, promoting participation and active citizenship in local communities including young people, promoting artistic expression, and so on.
Kairos Europe’s involvement in volunteering projects.
The Quality Label obtained recently is the first step that gives us access to the ESC programme and allows us to apply to European volunteering and solidarity projects. As Volunteers Hosting Organisation, our role will be to host young people, coming from European and partner countries, who are willing to contribute to solidarity in the local community by taking part in our current activities and projects with the local community.
Our action in the local community
Being engaged in the ESC, we hope to grow and develop our impact in the local community. Kairos has already been actively involved in such activities with European and transnational added value, including:
- Entrepreneurship training: how to become an entrepreneur in the social entrepreneurship field.
- Skills development: how to look for jobs, how to write a CV and sustain an interview, how to use job portals.
- Social media education.
- ICT training.
Our organisation has been working since its foundation with disadvantaged categories such as migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in London. We have dealt with those who feel excluded from mainstream society and have tried to help them build up their skills and improve their career prospects.
We think that by its purpose and field, Kairos has an important role to play in our local community in South London, a rich and multicultural area which was shaped by a wide range of immigration waves from all around the world. We think also that we have a role to play in addressing issues affecting local youths, such as the access to education and training, personal and professional skills improvement, access to employment or enriching educational experiences in an intercultural context.
Why did we wish to get involved in the European Solidarity Corps?
We consider European learning mobility as a great chance for participants to improve their interpersonal, language and social skills by creating links with other people across Europe.
For Kairos Europe, the participation in the ESC would be a way to create and maintain solidarity links in Europe, beyond frontiers. We believe the European Solidarity Corps has an important role to play to continue improving European Citizenship and solidarity, particularly since the United Kingdom left the European Union. While frontiers are closing and people increasingly fear diversity, the European Solidarity Corps will help us to keep overcoming social barriers and prejudices.
Our participation in the ESC will help to raise awareness of common European values, and to share our united vision of Europe. We believe in the benefits of learning mobilities to share knowledge and spread solidarity among European countries, communities, and citizens. The European Solidarity Corps is an exceptional chance for people to be mobile and acquire skills in an intercultural environment. That is why, with the ESC, we aim to positively promote interculturality, which is more than necessary in our connected and multicultural world.
Finally, the participation in the European solidarity Corps will also give Kairos Europe’s missions and project a stronger impact and the opportunity to better develop intercultural understanding, language learning, new opportunities, and professional and personal skill improvement in a European context.
What are the advantages of the European Solidarity Corps?
It is important to highlight that volunteering projects cover all participants costs, including travel costs to the hosting organisation, accommodation, food, and local transport. It also includes a public liability insurance, as well as an allowance for daily expenses to ensure the wellbeing of volunteers.
The ESC programme certifies a high quality of solidarity activities and monitoring for participants through the promotion of important features:
- Social Inclusion: to facilitate equal opportunities and promote equal treatment of young people with fewer opportunities facing diverse obstacles, and foresees special measures to help the participation of those young people.
- Non-Formal learning and Informal Learning: i.e.: learning that takes place outside of formal education allowing young people to develop “essential competences that contribute to their personal and socio-educational development and foster their active participation in society” (European Commission , 2020).
- Recognition and Validation of Learning outcomes: skills developed are recognised with proper identification and documentation by providing learning certificates at the end of the mobility (YouthPass, Europass).
- European added value and International Dimension: allowing a transnational vision and involving young people from diverse backgrounds and countries.
- Multilingualism: allowing the development of at least one foreign language to overcome linguistic barriers and promote a diverse but united Europe.
- Protection and Safety of participants: ensuring a safe environment which respects and protects the rights of all persons. Organisations must establish effective procedures to guarantee the safety and protection of participants in their activities at the work and living place.
- Promotion of the project results: outcomes of learning mobilities and projects are promoted and communicated, improving the organisations’ sustainability, and promoting good initiatives and opportunities.
We hope this short article will help you to better understand and get to know the European Solidarity Corps programme and maybe be encouraged to find opportunities to experience learning mobilities and volunteering activities.
Stay tuned, and we will share opportunities and news regarding ESC projects when possible. It should be noted that due to the current global health crisis, we are not yet sure when we will be able to properly start our ESC activities and projects.
For more information about the European Solidarity Corps programme: https://europa.eu/youth/solidarity_en
For opportunities and further information: European Youth Portal https://europa.eu/youth/EU_en
By Felix Do Nascimento
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official positions of Kairos Europe, its partners or their employees.
European Commission . (2020). European Solidarity Corps Guide 2020 Call. European Solidarity Corps
Leargas. (2018, 08 13). €44m set aside for European Solidarity Corps Call 2018. Retrieved from Leargas: https://www.leargas.ie/news/e44m-set-aside-european-solidarity-corps-call-2018/