ESC Galaxy - Introduction
After almost three years, we are revisiting “EVS Galaxy”, an on-line guide for EVS coordinators of volunteering projects, which was originally developed as an outcome of two International Training Courses (“EVS in Our Hands” in 2015, Prague, CZ; “EVS Gathering” in 2016, Morávka, CZ) with the aim to share experience, good practices, tools and methodologies for international volunteering projects. The brochure is designed primarily for organisations that have been involved in EVS and have recently started or intend to start new volunteering projects within the European Solidarity Corps programme (acting as supporting and/or hosting organisations). It should be useful mainly for coordinators of volunteering projects who are eager to explore new inspirations and motivations in order to improve the quality of their work. At the same time, the brochure intends to provide practical tools for mentors of volunteers and anyone else who may be directly or indirectly involved in volunteering projects.
In December 2016, the European Commission decided to launch a new youth programme, the “European Solidarity Corps”, supporting volunteering, local youth initiatives, jobs and traineeships. The programme has specific aims, objectives, rules and conditions and builds on the previous EVS Programme and the experience collected over its 20 years of existence. That is why there are many similarities but also many innovations. The team, aware of potential issues and the need for clarification and sharing of the latest experience, has committed to supporting coordinators in this transition phase from the previous EVS to the new programme by implementing the 3rd Edition of the International Training Course for EVS/ ESC coordinators –“ESCalator – new levels of European volunteering”. Besides supporting coordinators in their role, providing examples of good practice in supporting the learning process of volunteers and other soft skills of the coordinators, we also foster networking – strengthening of cooperation between EU members, non EU participating countries and Western Balkans countries. We have expanded the existing brochure for EVS-ESC coordinators with new topics and experience of various ESC coordinators from different countries in response to the new European Solidarity Corps programme and its specific topics. At the same time, we present new tools for ESC coordinators which have been developed by different organisations across Europe over the past few years. The expanded brochure covers various recent topics and new tools related to the work of ESC coordinators, which may inspire and foster higher quality in volunteering, jobs and traineeships projects. Besides the vast amount of information collected in the previous EVS Galaxy Edition of 2017, we have included experience with international volunteering from additional countries (Turkey, Montenegro, Kosovo…) and we are also introducing new tools that may help improve effectiveness of working with international volunteers (I-prepare platform to support volunteers before they leave, Im-prove Application, Organisational Learning etc.).
We would like to thank all the authors hailing from different countries and backgrounds for their willingness to share their experience with the previous EVS and recent European Solidarity Corps projects, good practice and tools used in the daily work with volunteers as well as for their time and effort they put in their articles. We also appreciate the wide range of authors – from ESCalator participants to seasoned EVS – ESC coordinators, accreditors and Quality Label Experts, to trainers and mentors who tend to the volunteers. All of them bring in different types of experience and expertise in volunteering within the frame of the European Solidarity Corps.
We hope that you will find the latest supportive tools and methodological approaches to voluntary work as well as the experience with ESC voluntary projects from different countries across Europe helpful and inspiring in the transition phase to the European Solidarity Corps programme. We also believe that this brochure will motivate ESC coordinators to pursue further professional development and will contribute to improving the quality of volunteering projects in the frame of the European Solidarity Corps programme.
On behalf of the ESCalator team
Magda Wagenknechtová Svobodová