Created in 1996 as a pilot programme by the European Commission, the European Voluntary Service (EVS) gives young people the opportunity to live an experience of mobility and commitment abroad. It makes it possible for them to discover another culture and acquire skills that will be necessary to enter the professional world.
In practical terms, the EVS allows someone to volunteer to work on projects that serve the public interest (social and cultural animation, heritage protection, informing youth, helping disadvantaged people, etc) within a nonprofit organisation (associations, NGOs, local governments, etc).
In 20 years, the EVS has encouraged more than 100,000 young people to go abroad, and today there are more than 5 000 EVS-accredited organisations. The programme's success led to its expansion outside of the European Union's borders, and it includes now 50 partner countries such as Turkey, Russia and Lebanon.
For the programme's 20th anniversary, the French Erasmus+ Agency (Agence Erasmus+ France Jeunesse & Sport) organised an open forum last month, gathering toghether more than a hundred current and former EVS volunteers as well as officials from several countries. The goal: to share their EVS experiences and talk about tomorrow's volunteering future prospects.
Cafébabel asked a few questions about the EVS to young people attending the event. Here is what they told us: