Together for an inclusive EVS – EVS4ALL Partner Meeting in London

23 September 2015

London, in a typical British fashion, greeted the participants of this week’s two-day partner meeting with heavy rain. This, however, did not in the least dilute the enthusiasm of the twenty participants representing partner organisations from six countries. After the kick-off meeting in Berlin in April of this year, the representatives of EVS organisations, foundations, and civil society organisations came together for two days at the location of our British partners, volunteer organisation “Volunteering Matters” in the London borough of Hackney, in order to plan and discuss the next concrete steps for the EVS4ALL project. Oonagh Aitken, Chief Executive of Volunteering Matters, greeted all participants and talked about the political situation and current challenges in the United Kingdom, which has a new government administration as of May 2015.

Simon Chambers of the British Council, responsible for the European Voluntary Service in the Erasmus+ programme, was impressed by the close partnership between EVS organisations and civil society groups as well as foundations that together seek to make the European Voluntary Service more inclusive. He made it clear in his lecture that in addition to the lack of awareness of the European Voluntary Service, the lacking appreciation for volunteer work in Europe stands in the way of the EVS attaining the same level of recognition and success as, for example, the Erasmus programme. Besides that, the additional costs not covered by the program that are imposed by the intensive attention to our target group of young people with fewer opportunities, as well as the highly complex process of accreditation for each of the volunteers’ areas of activity, constitute a substantial challenge for host and sending organisations in the European Voluntary Service. The partners will seek to continually draw attention to these barriers and challenges relating to the institutional side throughout the course of the EVS4ALL project.

Together, the partners planned a total of 25 EVS activities for young people from less privileged backgrounds in the time frame from March to October 2016; the funding applications will be handed in to the Erasmus +/Youth in Action programme on October 1st. During the meeting, we additionally worked on a set of common guidelines for an inclusive voluntary service, which could be helpful for sending and host organisations in the different stages of the voluntary service, and which will be tested during the concrete volunteering activities during the next year.