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 is Johanna, I am 19 years old, and currently a Full-Time Volunteer within the North Lanarkshire Befriending Project. I started volunteering with the project in October 2018. Since then it has been more than half a year, and I can’t even put in words how much has happened so far and how much I have changed! I have changed into a way more confident and grown up person – which is kinda scary if you ask me!! However, enough about me, let’s talk about the project.

The project has 26 volunteers known as ‘befrienders’ – myself, another Full-Time Volunteer, and about 25 part-time volunteers. Each one of us is supporting one young person, with us Full-Time Volunteers supporting up to 10 young people. There are many different reasons the young people need our support – from family issues to social isolation – but in the end it’s all about having fun. The goal is to get the kids out of the house, away from their problems, and let them enjoy their time. I stopped counting how many times a week I go swimming or to the McDonalds… but to be honest it really doesn’t matter, because as soon as you see the big smile on your young person’s face it’s totally worth it. Every child receives support every fortnight over a period of 12 months. I’ve been supporting my young people for over 6 months now, and it’s incredible how fast they’ve gained confidence, learnt to make decisions and just stop thinking about their problems back home.

Long story short – It’s amazing to see the kids grow, look into their glowing eyes full of joy when they have beaten you once more in the bowling even though you really tried your best… I would make the decision of choosing to volunteer with Volunteering Matters and the North Lanarkshire Befriending Project all over again. Best wishes from a really happy Full-Time Volunteer!’

Johanna’s placement in the UK was made possible through Erasmus+ Volunteering Projects funding, often referred to as EVS (European Voluntary Service).