Boost your CV
Anyone aged between 18 and 30 living in the UK can apply. Gain valuable experience and boost your skills.
Experience a different culture
Volunteers can experience life in a different culture and meet new friends from all over the world.
Join a project for free, with accommodation, living and travel expenses paid for by the EU Commission.
What is the European Solidarity Corps?
The European Solidarity Corps (ESC) is a programme that offers full-time volunteering opportunities for young people who are living in one of the participating countries. The programme is funded by the EU Commission through Erasmus+.
Volunteers can spend up to one year abroad on their placement, allowing them to explore a different culture while working to support a local community.
European Solidarity Corps projects are fully funded by the European Commission. There is no cost for you to apply.
Where can I go?
Although the programme is called the European Solidarity Corps, there are ESC projects outside of Europe. Along with the 28 member states of the EU, partnerships have been made with other non-EU countries and countries that border the EU. You can see a full list of the participating European Solidarity Corps countries here.
Who is eligible for the European Solidarity Corps?
You can register for the European Solidarity Corps when you are 17 years old, but you can’t start a project until you are over 18. Anyone aged between 18 and 30 who is a legal resident in the country (EU Member States or Partner Countries) of their sending organisation may take part in the European Solidarity Corps.
If you are currently a resident of the UK, IVS can be your European Solidarity Corps sending organisation.
Discover the stories of European Solidarity Corps volunteers:
European Solidarity Corps FAQ
History of the European Solidarity Corps
The European Solidarity Corps is the new European Union initiative which creates opportunities for young people to volunteer or work in projects that benefit communities and people around Europe.
It was announced by the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, during his annual State of the European Union speech in September 2016, and officially launched in December 2016. More information
After completing a simple registration process, participants can be selected to join a wide range of projects. These projects will be run by organisations which have been checked and authorised to run European Solidarity Corps projects.
What can you do?
As an ESC volunteer, you can support a range of European organisations through your full-time, unpaid voluntary work for up to 1 year. During that time you will get to know another culture through working voluntarily in a non-profit organisation for the benefit of a local community.
European Solidarity Corps projects will cover a wide variety of topics but all will be within the mission of the European Solidarity Corps and meet its principles. You can choose a project in many different fields, ranging from protection of the environment, through arts and culture, activities with children, young people or the elderly, heritage, to sports and leisure. For more information, have a look at the list of the project types.
Your activities will normally take place in an organisation in which you will be assigned a concrete role and will have a mentor to help you develop your skills during the project.
You will receive training which will help you get to know better the local culture and the country you live in. You will also receive training in the country’s language.
How long is a European Solidarity Corps placement?
The placement can last for a minimum of 2 weeks and can last up to 12 months.
What are the benefits?
By taking part in the European Solidarity Corps, you will develop new skills, develop or even learn a new language, make an impact on the local community, learn about different cultures, make new friends, gain confidence and much more!
How much does the European Solidarity Corps cost?
The European Solidarity Corps is free!
It is fully-funded by the European Commission.
Every volunteer receives support to cover all travel costs, insurance, food and accommodation.
A small allowance to help support monthly needs during the placement is also covered by the ESC grant.
Implications of Brexit on the European Solidarity Corps programme
At present, we can confirm that the programme is still fully open to residents of the UK. The UK’s participation in Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps is guaranteed until the end of 2020.
For more information, you can read the announcement from the UK Government here.
How do I apply?
Step 1: Find a sending organisation.
If you currently live in the UK, IVS can be your sending organisation!
As your sending organisation, we will make sure that you fully understand the concept of volunteering and that you’re truly committed to a period of voluntary service before formally agreeing to take you on board. We are responsible for:
- Helping you find a suitable placement (some sending organisations will engage you in the work of finding a placement, as this is usually a very time-consuming activity).
- Negotiating the terms of your volunteering placement with the host organisation (agreeing start and end-dates, leave-entitlements, working hours, living-arrangements etc.).
- Applying for a European Commission grant to cover your costs.
- Helping you to prepare for your experience abroad (could include language training, your rights/responsibilities as a volunteer, country information, problem-solving techniques etc).
- Keeping in contact with you throughout the experience (email/telephone) and undertaking some kind of follow-up when you return. The sending organisation might want your help in promoting the programme, and you might want to learn more about other opportunities available to you (e.g. Future Capital – funding made available to ex-volunteers who wish to set up their own project).
IVS is an official Eurodesk Ambassador.
Step 2: Find a host placement abroad.
You can also search for organisations who are looking for volunteers. The European Youth Portal hosts a database of volunteering opportunities containing:
- Details of different projects.
- Descriptions of what kind of volunteers are needed.
- Contact details and application procedures.
- Application procedures vary between projects, so always check the “How To Apply” section of projects that interest you.
If you can’t find a suitable project, you can browse the list of organisations and get in touch with them to check if they are offering placements. Please bear in mind that some of those listed may not currently be looking for new volunteers.