So to start with the boring but essential stuff… I’m an English volunteer from Bristol, England and have just started volunteering for Casa per la Pace in Milan through the European Voluntary Service (EVS). Hopefully this blog will be helpful if you are interested in doing EVS and want to know what it is actually like to volunteer abroad.
So what is EVS? You can find out lots of information here(where it is explained much better than I ever could).
Deciding on what sort of project you want to do, where you want to volunteer and applying for the project can all take a long time and is quite time consuming. It took me some time (and many cups of tea) to understand how it all works and to apply for the project. I wrote A LOT of different emails to a lot of different organisations asking if they were looking for EVS volunteers. Most of my emails were left without any response and some organisations replied that they weren’t looking for a volunteer at that particular time. So my advice would be…
…if you want to volunteer with EVS you should start planning in advance (up to a year ahead of when you want to start your project) and most importantly don’t give up! It is also important to remember that you will be living and working on your chosen project for up to a year so while it may be tempting to go for the first project that is available, it is essential that you are both interested in the project and also where the project is. It wouldn’t be much fun to find yourself in the middle of Bulgaria working on a project for the protection of cats (unless of course that’s what you want to be doing!)
Eventually I found Casa per la Pace on the EVS database and emailed them in November asking if they were looking for any EVS volunteers. As a complete coincidence their EVS volunteer from England had just dropped out so they were looking for an English replacement to start in January. I applied for the project, was accepted, and as they say the rest is history!
Although unfortunately things are never quite that simple and there were a few holdups on the way as we had to wait to find out if the funding for the project had been approved. On New Years Eve we found out the funding had been accepted (a good start to the new year!) and 2 very busy weeks later I found myself sat on a plane to Milan, ready to start my Italian adventure!