Why such a project?
The aim of the new European Solidarity Corps Programme is to support young people’s participation in various forms of voluntary activities and beyond. But what exactly is this new Programme, how different is it from EVS that lasted for over 20 years? And what makes a voluntary project a good one? How can we build trust within the organisation so that we can ensure a safe and creative learning journey for our volunteers and our members? What is the role of the mentor?
These were only some of the many questions we asked ourselves when developing the project idea, the questions that only in a trustful network could find answers to. We, therefore, invited some of our previous as well as some new partners to cooperate with the hope that the project will contribute to increasing the quality of volunteering projects within our organisations.
How did we do it?
Volunteering Opportunities was a multi-measure ERASMUS+ project implemented by Consilium DT from the UK and in joint cooperating with partners from Greece, Hungary, Slovenia, Poland, Romania, Malta, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, Latvia, and Slovakia. The project consisted of two separate mobilities:
- Contact making event in Worcester, UK on 20-26 June 2019 – The mobility gathered 30 representatives of partner organisations (staff members, heads of organisations, project coordinators, etc.) willing to explore the basics of the European Solidarity Core projects (volunteering strand in particular) and seeking to set up some future projects together. The programme of the mobility, hence, included the following elements:- Introduction to ERASMUS+ and ESC (identifying particularly the similarities and differences between EVS and ESC
– Developing key skills in project planning and bid writing
– Exploring the key principles of volunteering programmes and their benefits
– Ensuring the quality of the volunteering projects
– Networking and exploring common themes of interest for the sake of developing sustainable partnerships
– Simulation of bid writing and project assessment.
- Training course in Thessaloniki, Greece on 16-22 Sept 2019 – The mobility was focused on supporting mentors and those working with volunteers back home in developing key competences in:- Motivating young people to become local international volunteers
– Managing human resources and supporting the development of key competences among staff and volunteers
– Mentoring and coaching – identifying tools and best practices
– Understanding the principles of learning and development
– Developing project management skills and follow-up activities
– Personal and professional development as well as self-care for youth workers
What methods did we use?
When implementing the mobilities a number of non-formal education methods were used e.g. simulations, individual, pair and group work, discussions (e.g. world cafe, fishbowl, walk & talk), games and energisers, presentations, working with case studies, learning by doing (e.g. exploring the personal development tools on our own) etc. Each of the mobilities started off with an introduction to NFE, exploring how such approaches are different from (and yet complement) formal and informal education as well as where the value of NFE lies. This was important to ensure that participants take the most from the workshops and appreciate the power of tools being shared.
So what have we learned?
Here are just a few testimonies gathered from our participants.
CONTACT MAKING EVENT in the UK:
– I gained knowledge about all Erasmus plus projects/activity types also have conducted research and developed new networks; found potential partners to collaborate with in the future.
– I enhanced the teamwork, communication, and intercultural competences
– Though I had some knowledge about the topic before, I put it into a more organised form (eg. “timeline”). I gained a lot of new information about the topic of volunteering and made lots of new contacts.
– I understood that there is a huge workload before and after events
– Got a taste of creating a project
– How to write a project, find partners and work with volunteers
– I absolutely develop competences as teamwork, communication, creative and strategic thinking.
– I see the greatest gain in terms of knowledge – in that short week I learned a lot about Erasmus+, the opportunities it provides for young people in European Union; how to bring something to the table regarding solutions for local community problems. Networking was not exactly my area of interest, but I believe that attendees had the chance to make new partnerships and collaborations.
– Communication skills and seeing the value of my point of view.
– I gained some collaborators and a lot of contacts to increase my networking. Furthermore, after the event, I have more volunteering opportunities in different countries and fields.
– Now I’m more interested in witting projects and I want to deepen my skills and learn even more about it.
– I had the opportunity to improve my English (but I still have to work on it). I get little opportunity to get to know other countries’ cultures and traditions.
– I have learned the importance of patience and flexibility when collaborating with others. The great value of teamwork and open-minded approach when collaborating with others. I learned about other best practices when it comes to volunteering and interesting facts about their cultures.
– I gained the courage and inspiration to create or do what I really want.
– This project was a huge breaking point in my life. Thanks to all the amazing people there I realized I can accomplish all my dreams and create whatever I dream of. It gave me an opportunity to explore myself and work on my weaknesses. Also, I improved my presentation and leadership competencies. Last but not least it’s broken a lot of stereotypes I had about different countries.
– I was nervous in the first place, I’m still nervous around people and maybe i should continue meeting new people.
– At this event I understand that we all are on the same page because we all are working with youngsters, some of us longer, some less, but the main problems are the same. This was a great chance to meet other “colleagues” and talk about general problems, plans etc. in their countries. For me, this was a great opportunity to get better knowledge about project writing steps and about all the things that I need to think when I write a project.
– The most important thing for me was the communication and collaboration that I could have with people that I met for the first time, for a few days in a different place and not in my base. Moreover, I comprehended different cultures and I can approach better other perspectives and ways of thinking.
– I learned that a more confident attitude is a great door opener. I also observed that safe space and a new group of people (who don’t know you and don’t have any expectations), are great opportunities to explore yourself and spot/sharpen new aspects of your personality.
TRAINING COURSE in Greece:
– I got to know new types of learning
– Mentoring and helping volunteers for sure. As for personal development, I learned new methods to help and track my personal development, but it takes some time (for me) to be able to see that development.
– New perspectives and ideas on mentoring.
– Networking and tools for personal development
– I expanded my competences in connection with volunteer mentoring, including through sessions on solving volunteer problems. I gained knowledge about volunteer opportunities in Europe.
– Practical knowledge about culture in the participants’ country; practical knowledge about volunteering; what skills a mentor needs to have
– I learned new competences in observation of personal development and how to evaluate personal development. In addition to that, I gained competence in mentorship and leadership roles and new aspects and ideas of work in NGOs.
– Refreshed my English, learned about ESC, new techniques (such as a living library).
– Mentoring volunteers, ESC/EVS, ESN, coaching, conflict management, networking, Erasmus plus, Youthpass
– I learned how to communicate in a more efficient way, to be more sensitive around other people’s diversity and to enjoy it, and how to sustain a person in an environment that is not familiar to her even if I still have a lot to learn.
– I learned how to respond appropriately to different needs; use open problems and other communication strategies to deepen communication; not forcing your own style of work, but allowing everyone to develop their own abilities.
– Mentoring – not only volunteers but generally people. I do use it since I have returned and started to work as a mentor for students who are about to decide where and what to study in the future.
– I’ve improved my English skills, I became more confident and I got better in mentoring and teaching in my school.