The European Solidarity Corps (ESC) is the volunteering programme for young people aged 18 to 30 and to 35 for the humanitarian strand.
Young people register in the ESC data base and adhere to the principles of the Corp and they have access to a wide range of projects. They can volunteer from a couple of weeks up to 1 year in the EU or outside the EU for the humanitarian strand.
When the ESC was launched in 2018 EDF has worked a lot on requesting measures to make the programme inclusive. We have asked for including back the already existing measure of the previous EU Programme the European Voluntary Service and improving it. With the Inclusive Mobility Alliance we have made recommandations for the decision makers the project implementers and the organisations involved in. Many of them are now part of different documents published by the EU institutions.
We were very pleased to see that the European Parliament has taken onboard all EDF’s recommandations and was very ambitious in its report. Yet the final result was less ambitious, but still with important provisions for persons with disabilities volunteering in Europe.
Young people with disabilities wishing to join the European Solidarity Corps can benefit of:
- A preparatory visit ahead of the project
- Financial support for costs linked to disability
- Reinforced Mentorship
- Costs linked to inclusion
- Inclusion is one of the criterion for a project to be accepted
More important the European Commission has adopted Implementation guidelines for Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps of Inclusion and Diversity Strategy. The programme has as one of its core inclusion next to digital and green.
Much has been achieved and many young people with disabilities has done such an initiative, yet some doubt whether to do it or cannot do it, because there is not a minimum services linked to disabilities guaranteed and it is not always sure that when someone wants to go the necessary fund is available, and if it is, then it is often negotiated as if a 24 on 24 assistance is a luxury. For some it is vital certainly not a favour.
In 2005 I participated in the volunteering programme of the EU, I was the first volunteer with disability from my country, and I do not regret for a second breaking the ice. If I am what I became is thanks to that. Watch my video about.
Photo credit: European Commission