Let's take it in order. Are volunteers people who work for free?
Yes, but not only. A volunteer is a person who is free and voluntarily engaged in socially useful activities. He does not receive money and does not work in the interests of commercial organizations. In this case, the volunteer does not need to be a professional in any field. We made these cards together with the European Union Erasmus + educational program and the European Solidarity Corps program - it has volunteer projects in the field of ecology, assistance to people with disabilities, children and socially unprotected people (for example, so-called difficult teenagers). Using the example of European Solidarity Corps, we will describe how to get volunteer experience in Europe.
Why go to Europe at all to become a volunteer? You can help in Russia!
Everyone has their own reasons. Someone wants to see new countries and learn a foreign language, others are looking for adventures and want to leave the comfort zone, the third is interested in working in the chosen field - and they want to get their first experience. Moreover, the volunteers of the European Solidarity Corps program receive a certificate, which can be a useful line in the resume. It is called Youthpass, many European universities and employers know about it.
Have to work in the field of charity?
Yes, but not only. Volunteers also work in NGOs, budgetary and municipal organizations: for example, in youth and rehabilitation centers or in kindergartens. Indeed, there are many such organizations, and they exist in various European countries.
Clear. Take all comers?
No, there are restrictions, primarily in age. In the program European Solidarity Corps you can participate only from 18 to 30 years. Moreover, the application is allowed to submit and in 17 years: the main thing - to reach the age of majority at the time of the trip. Another limitation - you need to know English at least at a basic level. The recommended minimum is B1 (Intermediate). You will need it in order to independently choose a volunteer project from the list and submit an application for it (fill out a questionnaire and write a motivation letter). After this, the organization to which you applied will select volunteers from among those who wish - you will have to pass an interview on Skype.
And what if I do not pass it?
Try again. This does not guarantee that you will be taken, but no one forbids trying again.
Suppose they took me. Will I pay for flights and accommodation from my own pocket?
No, they’ll pay you all. European Solidarity Corps programs are grant programs. This means that volunteers are covered by visa, round-trip, accommodation, meals and public transport on site, and also provide pocket money (the amount depends on the country, usually from 250 to 400 euros). Moreover, participants are given medical insurance and pay for language courses if necessary (for example, the local language, if it is not English).
That is, I don’t need money at all?
In fact, you will need it - you will first have to buy tickets and a visa with your own money, and the volunteer will compensate their cost on the spot for three to four months. In addition, you may want to buy clothes, shoes or anything else in Europe. Then you need to have an extra amount with you.
Will I get a job?
No, a volunteer visa does not entitle you to paid work in the European Union. In addition, when volunteers are busy, it is difficult to find time for a side job. However, no one will forbid you to make freelance projects for Russian customers via the Internet, as long as there remain forces for volunteering.
By the way, about employment. What will it be? And how long will all this go on?
It depends on the organization you are in. There are various volunteer programs - from two weeks to a year. Volunteers usually work a maximum of 38 hours a week with two days off, and each month they are given two days off in addition (not counting public holidays).
And where will have to live?
There are several options: in a separate room in a rented apartment with other volunteers or locals, and also in the host family. There are options when you have to share one room with other volunteers, but this is always warned in advance, even before the start of the program. Therefore, if you are uncomfortable, you can refuse.
If I work badly and walk, will they kick me out?
Can The fact is that at the start of the project with the volunteer a tripartite agreement is signed - it is called the Volunteering agreement or Activity agreement. Such a contract is concluded between the volunteer on the one hand and its host, as well as the sending organization on the other. The work of the volunteer is monitored by a coordinator who distributes work tasks. If you systematically refuse to perform them without giving reasons or often skip, the coordinator can take the initiative to terminate the contract, and the organization - agree with him. In this case, the volunteer will be sent home ahead of time. However, before that in a conflict situation, they will sort it out and try to help solve it less radically.
I'm curious! What is the action plan?
Carefully read the terms of the European Solidarity Corps programs.
Enlist the support of the sending organization - now there are more than 20 of them in Russia, and the list is periodically updated. To select, you need to follow the link, filter by "Russian Federation" and "Sending". Next you need to write to the one that you like best. It is the sending organization that will support you and take responsibility for you.
Find a volunteer project you want to participate in (see their list).
Send an application (fill in the form and write a motivation letter).
When you receive a positive response, apply for a grant through the sending organization.
Get a visa and buy a ticket.