Esme Clifford Astbury, Volunteering Matters

This week, representatives from Volunteering Matters are in Cluj-Napoca, Romania to take part in Connector 2015, an annual event organised by the country’s national agency for Erasmus+.  The week long event exemplifies the principles of Erasmus+  (promoting lifelong learning and creating inclusive educational opportunities particularly through intercultural exchange)  by bringing  together volunteers, learners and practitioners from across Europe.

We are bringing some of our own young volunteers –  from Positive Futures Hackney –  to take part in the event. Whitney Sabnjoku, 18, and Evangelina WiIson, 18, both from Hackney, recently completed Health and Social Care BTE and are now preparing to apply for further study at University. They will spend the week attending talks, participating in workshops, sharing experiences with other participants, and enjoying local cultural events. These volunteers will also contribute to the EVS4ALL project, an Erasmus+ funded project involving partners from Germany, France, Poland, Romania, Spain and the UK, developed to make European Voluntary Service (EVS) more inclusive. At Volunteering Matters, we strongly believe that everyone should have the opportunity to contribute. Through EVS4ALL, we are working hard to make this happen at the international level. As a member of the project’s coordinating group, Volunteering Matters will, together with our volunteers, be identifying barriers to participation in EVS and developing guidelines to overcome them. These findings will be presented to the European Commission at the end of the two year project.

Volunteering Matters has been active at the European level for many years, and is a national charity with a strong  international reach. As well as having a strong European team, we host the Secretariat of Volonteurope, an international network promoting volunteering, active citizenship and social justice. This position, combined with our specific European team run from London, allows us to build robust networks at the European level,  shaping policy and practice.  We look forward to making the most of our week in Cluj, building and bolstering our communal networks and knowledge further.  Follow @volonteurope  to find out how we get on.