European Youth Portal
Information and opportunities for young people across Europe.

You Can Become a Volunteer

Łukasz helped alcoholics and drug addicts in London, Kasia worked on a farm in Switzerland, Ela and Marcin made observations of dying out species of monkeys in bamboo forests in Japan. What do they have in common? They were all volunteers working abroad

What is volunteering all about? Who can be a volunteer?

Łukasz: Anyone; a man, woman, student, worker, unemployed, catholic, atheist, both young and old. There are no limitations.


All of you did utterly different things. Can you tailor volunteering to your interests?

Ela: Not only you can, but you should! You can focus on ecology, renovate historic buildings or look after children. The topic of your volunteering work depends on its organisers, and these are mainly missions, welfare departments, youth NGOs, but you can also volunteer as part of international programmes such as European Voluntary Service.



Can anyone volunteer? Don't you need any experience?

Marcin: It depends. Candidates wanting to volunteer with a mission must have worked before for a local parish or a volunteering centre. In the case of European Voluntary Service, which is one of the largest volunteering programmes, no previous experience is required.



How long do volunteering programmes last?

Łukasz: That depends on your time! If you do not have much time to spare, go for a work camp. It usually lasts from 2 to 4 weeks, and you work in a group for a few hours a day. If you are fed up with your family, friends and country, you can opt for long term volunteering. Such a programme may last up to three years and it can be a mission or humanitarian aid in the third world...


Sounds cool. So I'm going?

Ela: Hold on, are you of full legal age? Volunteers must be of age… People who are under-age can only go for work camps. And often you have maximum age limits. Volunteering is for young people who want to see the world, gain experience, meet people from abroad, and not for old fellows.


Do you get paid for your voluntary service?

Marcin: Sometimes you have to pay for majority of things, but usually everything is paid for you; travel, insurance, accommodation and board. If you opt for European Voluntary Service, you can get quite nice pocket money, though. Yet, if you go for cool, trendy forms of volunteering, like feeding dolphins or something, then it is you who has to pay, and it costs you similar money as you would shell out for reasonable holiday!


And how do you manage to communicate abroad? To tell the truth, I am average at English...

Kasia: Theoretically, you do not need to know the language, but in practice you cannot do without it. But it is enough that you falter. As a matter-of-fact, volunteering is an excellent way to learn a language. And when you volunteer abroad, you can learn such nice phrases as: I love you, Je t’aime, Ich libe dich, Ti amo...


Really? So I'm going. Thanks for your time, you've been really helpful!

Published: Wed, 15/05/2013 - 15:47

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