European Voluntary Service (EVS) is part of the European Union’s Erasmus + Programme and it enables 18-30 year olds to volunteer in another country for 2-12 months with most placements 6-12 months. Volunteers give their time and energy to support their chosen organisation and its local community and at the same time they develop a wide range of new skills and knowledge. To date Bryson Care has supported over 300 volunteers in the EVS programme and have been involved since the programme began 20 years ago.
We have an extensive programme of hosting/co-ordinating EVS volunteers, working with an average of 18 full-time, long-term EVS volunteers annually. We host EVS volunteers within Bryson Care mostly in our Children’s Services and currently co-ordinate EVS placements for the following Northern Ireland organisations:
Our hosting and co-ordinated placements are mostly for 12 months starting spring or summer, depending on the project. Our vacancies are advertised on the official Database of EVS Volunteering Opportunities
We have a smaller progamme of sending volunteers from Northern Ireland to other countries. Financial support from the European Union and the organisations involved mean that the placements are almost free for the volunteers. Accommodation is provided, pocket money and subsistence is given and local travel and training costs are met (the volunteer may need to make a small contribution to international travel). With over 5000 organisations involved in EVS, there are many placements within European Union countries and beyond. Volunteers do not need to be fluent in the language of their host country, but do need to be keen to learn.
We currently provide the official On Arrival and Mid-Term training to EVS volunteers in Northern Ireland. The On Arrival Trainings bring together EVS volunteers from different Northern Ireland EVS organisations for a 3 day residential where they learn about EVS and Erasmus +. They receive information about the country and culture and are helped to understand more about keeping safe and dealing with problems. They set goals for their time on EVS. The 2 day residential Mid-Term gives an opportunity for reflection on the placements to date and enables planning to make the most of their remaining time on EVS.
In 2017, Bryson became a Eurodesk UK Partner Organisation. Eurodesk UK is an information and support service to help young people and youth organisations find out about opportunities in Europe. The UK team is part of a wider European network with national representatives in 34 countries. Bryson Care is one of 15 Eurodesk UK Partner organisations across the UK and the only one in Northern Ireland. While EVS has been the main focus of our activity within Erasmus + and its predecessor programmes, we have also been involved in delivering or supporting other parts of the programmes. These include a Senior Volunteering Project through the Grundtvig Programme, supporting ex-EVS volunteers with Youth Initiatives, Future Capital projects and devising and delivering TCP (Training and Co-operation Plan) activities. We have always been advocates for these European programmes and are delighted to be able to promote these amazing opportunities more formally through our Eurodesk UK Partner Organisation status.