A Network Of Partners
In 2012, a manifesto titled “We are Europe! Manifesto for Rebuilding Europe from the Bottom Up” appeared in 15 major European daily and weekly papers. At its core, the manifesto called for opening up the EU’s existing “European Voluntary Service” (EVS) program to new target groups. The text had been written by Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Ulrich Beck in cooperation with the Allianz Cultural Foundation.
At the initiative of the Allianz Cultural Foundation, a network of 14 partners formed, bringing non-governmental foundations and institutions together with organizations experienced with volunteering and European youth work. Germany, France, the UK, Poland, Spain and Romania were all represented. Together, the partners completed the two-year EU pilot project “European Voluntary Service for All” (EVS4ALL), initially improving access to the EVS for disadvantaged youth and drafting political recommendations towards an inclusive volunteer service. The project was supported within the EU program Erasmus+ Youth in Action as a strategic partnership and coordinated by IKAB-Bildungswerk e.V.
Actions and Project Outcomes
The EVS4ALL partners have put volunteer service, participation in the democratic system and social inclusiveness across all of Europe on their agendas, and this project brought tangible advancements in all of those areas. Between May and September of 2016, 20 young people with fewer opportunities who would previously have only had difficult access to the Erasmus+ program were able to participate in an EVS, either with an EVS4ALL partner or at another service site, in Germany, Poland, Spain and the UK. Based on interviews and analysis of the concrete volunteering experiences in the project, the EVS4ALL partners have drafted European political recommendations for an inclusive volunteer service, including calls for more flexible accreditation, application and reporting processes in the Erasmus+ program, increased funding for responding to special needs of the target group, and foreign language programs for short-term volunteers. The political recommendations were presented at events in all partner countries and enumerated in detail in the presence of representatives of the European Commission and the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth at the closing conference “Volunteering for Social Change” held from 20–21 March at the Allianz Forum in Berlin. Daniel Cohn-Bendit, MEP Brando Benifei and Andrea Casamenti of the European Youth Forum also took part in a discussion with volunteers and the mostly young audience about ways to shape a socially just and inclusive Europe for young people. The German national agency JUGEND für Europa and the online magazine Europe&Me both reported on the closing conference and the EVS4ALL project outcomes.
Keep the Vision Alive
To keep the vision of a European volunteer service for everyone alive and spread it beyond this project, we conducted video interviews with selected young people from Germany, Poland and Spain, and produced a “Volunteers’ Journal” and an online publication called “Volunteers’ Voices” in collaboration with the media-pedagogical organization “Mediale Pfade” and EVS4ALL volunteers. We would like to thank all EVS4ALL volunteers for their enormous dedication and hope everybody enjoys watching!
The European Voluntary Service (EVS)
The EVS4ALL project builds upon the previously existing European Voluntary Service (EVS) by the EU with the intent to open the project partners to new target groups in light of a more inclusive programme.
Since 1996 the European Voluntary Service (EVS) enables young Europeans between the ages of 16 and 30 a working stay abroad from two weeks to 12 months within the framework of a non-profit project. The EVS is free of charge for the participants and is financed by the European Union. It includes travel and accommodation costs as well as pocket money. The programme is complemented by seminars and language courses for the volunteers. As guest country, the volunteer can chose not only from EU member states. An overview of all countries in which a stay abroad is possible can be viewed here.
The programme of the EVS is shaped by various non-profit organisations in the fields of social welfare, culture, sports and environment whose collaborations and projects enable the involvement of the volunteers. In each participating country national agencies coordinate and provide information about the EVS. In its present form, the EVS will run until the end of 2020.
You can find more detailed information on the European Voluntary Service here.