What to expect from EVS?

This article, inspired by www.ec.europa.eu, tries to give clear information to volunteers and organisations about what can be expected in general terms before, during and after the service period.
Each volunteer carries with her/him ideas, expectations, needs and habits that deserve to find a respectful and trustful hosting environment, receptive of individual specificities. At the same time, Sending, Receiving and Coordinating Organisations often devote a great deal of time, energy and resources to set up an EVS project; they can therefore expect that the volunteer shows a similar level of respect for and trust in their commitment to develop activities in their local community.  
It is strongly recommended that potential volunteers read this article before agreeing to take part in an EVS project. 

Information and communication 

The volunteer has to be informed about the Erasmus+ Programme — its philosophy, aims, priorities and procedures — and how EVS projects are carried out. Prior to her/his departure, the volunteer must receive clear information about the EVS project, in particular about the tasks to be performed, accommodation, training and support. If the host placement is located in a live-in community, the volunteer must be informed about the rules and conditions that apply in such a community and which relate to her/him. Prior to her/his departure, the volunteer is responsible for informing the organisations about any circumstances that may influence her/his capability to carry out certain tasks and about any individual special needs. If necessary, she/he should provide accurate information about health-related issues. The volunteer must inform the Coordinating, Sending and Receiving Organisation about the exact dates of her/his departure and arrival. This information should be provided well in advance before the start of the service.  

Financial and administrative rules 
The volunteer must read, agree on and sign the EVS Agreement together with the Coordinating, Sending and Receiving Organisations. Each partner (including the volunteer) is responsible for respecting the project details as set out in the volunteering agreement and the EVS Agreement. Participation in EVS is free of charge for the volunteer. Except for a possible contribution to travel costs and expenses the volunteer encounters not directly linked to the project, the volunteer must not be charged, either fully or partially, directly or indirectly, for taking part in an EVS project. This implies that the volunteer is entitled to one return travel ticket between the sending country and the host country, and to insurance, food (meals or food money should be provided also on free days and during holiday periods) and local transport. During the entire volunteering period, including while on vacation, the volunteer is also entitled to a monthly or weekly allowance (pocket money). The amounts are as stated in the Programme Guide. The pocket money must not be aimed at covering costs related to the implementation of the project (for example local transport or food).
The volunteer has to be covered, throughout the voluntary service period, by the obligatory EVS group insurance plan set up by the European Commission. The volunteer must read carefully the insurance-related information found online. The volunteer can request and must receive help from the organisations in obtaining a visa, if so required by the legislation of the host country. If asked to do so in due time, the National/Executive Agency or SALTO can also issue letters supporting the volunteer's visa application. The volunteer is entitled to receive a Youthpass certificate, attesting her/his participation in EVS and the experience and skills she/he has acquired during the period of service (more info at www.youthpass.eu). Upon her/his return, the volunteer must complete a final report.  

Positive attitudes in EVS 
The volunteer should take an active role in setting up her/his EVS project together with the organisations, and this should be encouraged by the Sending, Receiving and Coordinating Organisation. The volunteer must respect the rules and the organisational structure of the Receiving Organisation. The volunteer must also abide by the laws in force in the host country. The volunteer must keep the Receiving Organisation informed about her/his whereabouts during the period of service. While abroad, the volunteer should give the Sending Organisation regular feedback on her/his experience and must evaluate the overall project with the Sending Organisation upon her/his return. 

Practical arrangements 
The Receiving Organisation must take care of the practical arrangements in order to support and guide the volunteer from the moment of his/her arrival in the host country. The volunteer is entitled to free board and lodging. Her/his accommodation must remain available for her/him throughout the entire service period, including holidays. The Receiving/Coordinating Organisation must ensure that the volunteer can live in safe and clean accommodation and can eat sufficient and healthy food. The volunteer must take good care of the accommodation that has been provided for her/him. The volunteer is entitled to two consecutive free days per week (unless arranged differently in mutual agreement between the volunteer and the organisation and explicitly stated in the volunteering agreement) and two days of holiday per month. Vacation periods and weekly rest days have to be agreed between the Receiving Organisation and the volunteer.  

Support, training and meetings 
Prior to departure, the volunteer must receive the EVS Info-Kit and be adequately prepared by the Sending/Coordinating Organisation for the stay abroad, according to her/his needs and in line with the EVS Training and Evaluation Cycle guidelines and minimum quality standards. Upon arrival in the host country volunteers in projects with a duration of more than two months have the right and obligation to take part in an on-arrival training session. Volunteers whose period of service lasts six months or more also have the right and obligation to take part in a mid-term evaluation session. The volunteer should receive appropriate task-related support and guidance to enable her/him to carry out the agreed tasks. If online language courses are provided as part of the project support from the Commission, the Coordinating organisation must ensure a proper followup and support to the volunteer in starting the course as early as possible and completing it. The same applies when funding is provided for language learning. A number of volunteers will take language tests before and after mobility. The final language test should be taken just before the completion of the Youthpass, at the end of mobility. The Receiving organisation has to oversee that the final test is taken by those volunteers who are given access to the testing scheme. In addition, the Receiving/Coordinating Organisation supports other language training, free of charge for the volunteer. The training can be formal or informal and the format, duration and frequency will depend on the needs of the volunteer, her/his project tasks and the resources available to the organisation. For personal support, the volunteer has a mentor with whom she/he will have regular meetings throughout the service period. The mentor must be appointed by the Receiving Organisation, and must not be the volunteer’s supervisor or be otherwise directly involved in the volunteer’s daily activities. The mentor should help the volunteer to get integrated within the organisation, the project and the local community. The mentor should help the volunteer with administrative issues, if necessary. The volunteer must accept the role of the mentor as the person responsible for her/his well-being and must attend the regular meetings organised by the mentor. At the end of the project, the volunteer should receive help from the Sending Organisation in evaluating the participation in EVS so as to gain the maximum benefit from her/his experience. If asked for, the volunteer should also get help in re-adjusting to life in her/his home country and for guidance in personal projects. After completing her/his period of service, the volunteer should take part in the Annual EVS Event organised by the National Agency.

Volunteer's tasks 
The volunteering conditions must respect the volunteer's personal health, safety and dignity, and be in line with the national laws of the host country. EVS must be full-time service for the volunteer. Her/his project activities (including language and other training activities relating to the project) should take up at least 30 and not more than 38 hours per week. The volunteer must not carry out routine tasks that would normally be carried out by paid employees. The volunteer must not carry out high responsibility tasks alone or unsupervised. The volunteer must not be solely responsible for the individual care of vulnerable persons (babies or children; ill, elderly or disabled people, etc.) on a day-to-day basis. The volunteer must not teach or provide teaching assistance as part of formal education. The volunteer should be encouraged to use her/his own ideas, creativity and experience to develop his/her own projects or activities relating to the work of the Receiving Organisation. Any changes in the project and in the volunteer's tasks, areas of responsibility, support and training must remain in line with the general setup of the agreed and approved project and must be agreed between the volunteer and the Receiving Organisation.  

Risk and conflict management 
The volunteer must not act in any way that could put others or her/himself at risk of being injured. If a conflict situation arises, the volunteer may ask her/his mentor to facilitate communication between the volunteer and the local environment or Receiving Organisation. The mentor should be able to provide an independent and objective evaluation of the situation. If conflict arises between the volunteer and the mentor, the volunteer can ask to get another person appointed as her/his mentor. In the event of a conflict situation, the volunteer should be supported and must cooperate actively with the Coordinating, Sending and Receiving Organisations to avoid communication problems.


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