Erasmus+ Volunteering projects allow young people aged 17-30 to take part in unpaid and Full-Time Volunteering activities for up to 12 months in another country within or outside the European Union.
‘My name Emma and I am a Full-Time Volunteer in Norfolk. I support people with learning disabilities in their day to day lives, whether it’s going shopping, going to work or going to art classes. To see them become more independent and more self-confident from week to week is amazing. And while they are making progress, I am also gaining new abilities.
Throughout my last year of school I already knew I wanted to do go somewhere new and do something different from the 12 years of school I had just left behind me. Most of my life experience was based on things I learned in school, and going abroad by myself would absolutely change all of that. Apart from that, I also didn’t really have an idea what to do with my life after school, so taking a gap year was essential. However, I knew just going travelling wouldn’t give me all I wanted to get out of my year abroad.
The idea of going into the social work sector has always been in the back of my head, combining the two was the perfect plan. Taking part in EVS meant getting to live abroad and experience new places as well as figuring out if social work is something I’d like to do as a job later in life.
I have been a volunteer for 9 months now (effective May 2019) and I have learned a lot. Not only from my fellow volunteers and friends here but also from my service users.
I currently support a young woman who is volunteering in the local library. In the beginning she seemed rather shy and reserved. Even though she had been to the library before it was a new environment with lots of new people and new challenges for her. In the nearly eight months we have worked together she has improved so much. Apart from learning the library’s system and being able to find books in no time, she is confident in talking to new people and eager to take on new tasks. She has also taught me that everyone has their own pace. I used to be an impatient rather hectic person! Even though I’m still working on it, I now know that everyone will do and finish their tasks (and basically anything in their lives) at a pace that suits them and allows them to be comfortable with what they’re doing.
Volunteering has been the absolute right decision for me. I have become more independent, made new friends from all over the world, travelled around the UK, figured out what to do after my gap year and at the same time, I got to support amazing people and watch them overcome challenges and become more confident in trusting their own abilities.’
Emma’s placement in the UK was made possible through Erasmus+ Volunteering Projects funding, often referred to as EVS (European Voluntary Service).