A lot of things happen in the mind of a volunteer
The employment unit in the northen Swedish city of Arvidsjaur initiated their international work in the middle of the 90’s, receiving foreign youth groups to the north of Sweden through the Leonardo Da Vinci program.
– We saw the need for a bridge between the youngsters and the adult leaders, the use of volunteers was the solution. An Italian girl from a visiting youth group wanted to stay here and became our first volunteer in Arvidsjaur, says Michael Åman.
Twenty years later the City of Arvidsjaur is a key player within European Voluntary Service. Throughout the years Idéum has begun to focus more and more on supporting youth with special needs. They keep receiving foreign groups to Arvidsjaur, but instead of the Leonardo da Vinci program Idéum is now working with the European Social Fund.
– When new groups are coming we have a meeting with the volunteer to plan the stay. There are different needs in the group and a wide range of activities that the youngsters can do here, for example carpentry, repair hiking trails in the wild and restore scooter roads. The volunteer get to work with a bit of everything, nowadays the responsibility also includes taking care of refugees arriving to Arvidsjaur.
– One of the most important things when arriving to a new country is to understand how the culture is. How does life work in this country? We arrange excursions to Sami camps in the mountains. The profile of our volunteers makes them suitable to handle both the youth groups and the refugee groups, explains Michael Åman.
EVS leads to employment
At Idéum the volunteers get the possibility to grow. At the same time as the volunteer is a possible bridge between youngsters and their leaders, an EVS experience can be a possible bridge to an employment.
– There’s a big difference between studying and actually get a job. Given the life situation of many of our volunteers the only way to learn a profession might be through a project like EVS. Here we can offer a developing occupation; I think they’re learning a lot.
– Many things happen in the mind of a volunteer, they learn new ways to relate and to lead groups. As a twenty year old volunteer you might end up in a situation where you have to lead a person who’s 45. The employability increases after EVS, some of our volunteers even stayed in Arvidsjaur to start a family here, summarizes Michael Åman.