YOUTH programme. Action 2 European Voluntary Service

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1 EUROPEAN COMMISSION Directorate-General for Education and Culture Youth, Civil Society, Communication Youth YOUTH programme Action 2 European Voluntary Service Rights and Responsibilities of EVS Volunteers February 2004 European Commission, B-1049 Brussels - Belgium Telephone: (+32-2) Fax: Telex: COMEU B Telegraphic address: COMEUR Brussels.

2 GENERAL PRESENTATION OF THE DOCUMENT This document is addressed to the parties actively involved in the realisation of transnational voluntary service activities in the framework of the YOUTH programme. It builds on one of the fundamental principles of the European Voluntary Service (EVS), the well-established "tri-partite partnership" between sending organisation, host organisation and volunteer. With a deliberate focus on the volunteer, this document corresponds with another publication by the European Commission presented in September 2002: "Rights and Responsibilities of Host Organisations, Sending Organisations and Mentors". 1 The aim of this document is to complement to the efforts of promoters, operators, national authorities and the European Commission in the area of risk prevention for EVS volunteers. Dedicating a considerable amount of time, energy, skills, initiative and spirit into their project, they deserve to find a respectful and trustful hosting environment when entering their service period. At the same time, sending organisations and host organisations can expect from "their" volunteer a similar level of respect and trust for their engagement to develop activities in their local community. The main objective of this text is therefore to clarify the role each project partner is to take in jointly achieving a "good" environment for an EVS project. Rights and responsibilities are very much a matter of respect for the situation of each project partner. Consequently they build on a good understanding between the three partners. If every partner is aware of what one should respect and can expect, the EVS project has a good potential to result in a positive experience - for the organisations and the volunteers involved. "Rights and Responsibilities " offers complementary guidelines addressing particular aspects of EVS project implementation. These guidelines take into account the great variety of project partners, project formats as well as activity areas. They ask for adaptation to the very specific environment of each project. Guidelines shall thereby not imply further rules or conditions for project support provided by the YOUTH programme. The general operational framework for the European Voluntary Service is described as Action 2 of the YOUTH programme in the following documents: The Council Decision establishing the YOUTH programme 2 The YOUTH programme User s Guide 3 Both publications were used as sources for this document. Presenting an update on a previous Rights and Responsibilities of an EVS volunteer, this new text is characterised by the actual experiences from project practice. Programme responsibles at European and national level as well as former EVS volunteers contributed to the final version of this document, gathering clues and conclusions from the voluntary service reality in past years. It is the intention of this document to be widely spread among operators, promoters and in particular volunteers. It is strongly recommended to present this document to potential volunteers before they agree to their particular EVS project. "Rights and Responsibilities " is available for download in the volunteer section at Several National Agencies of the YOUTH programme and National Coordinators of the Euromed Youth Programme offer translated versions on their websites. 4 1 "Rights and Responsibilities of Host Organisations, Sending Organisations and Mentors" is available for download in the Volunteer Helpdesk section at 2 Decision No 1031/2000/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 April 2000 published in OJ L117, The User s Guide is available for download at 4 For links to National Agencies and National Coordinators please consult the Contact List at February 2004 Page 2

3 Rights of an EVS volunteer 1. General The volunteer has the right to be respected as human being and citizen in the light of the fundamental social rights formulated by the European Union. 5 The volunteer has the right to be informed about the YOUTH programme, the philosophy, aims, priorities and procedures, as well as the way YOUTH activities are implemented in the sending and/or host organisation. The volunteer has the right to be informed about her/his rights and responsibilities as EVS volunteer as described in this document. The volunteer has the right of protection of personal data provided in applications, contracts or reports for the purposes of managing the YOUTH programme. The volunteer has the right to participate in the EVS project for free. This includes the volunteer s costs for one return travel, insurance, food, accommodation and a monthly (sometimes weekly) allowance. The volunteer must not in any way pay fully or partially, directly or indirectly for the participation. 2. Prior to the arrival In order to ensure the success of the volunteer s participation in the EVS project, the volunteer has the right to be adequately prepared by the sending organisation for the stay abroad according to her/his needs. The volunteer is entitled to receive clear information about the potential host project, in particular about the tasks to be covered, the accommodation, training and support. If the host placement is located in a live-in community, the volunteer has to be informed about the rules and conditions applied in such community, and which are relevant for her/him in particular. The volunteer has the right to attend a pre-departure training organised in her/his home country. The volunteer has the right to find support by the host organisation and the sending organisation for arranging a visa if required by the legislation of the host country. Upon request the National Agency / National Coordinator or the European Commission shall issue visa support letters. The volunteer has the right to be covered by the obligatory EVS group insurance plan appointed by the European Commission, throughout the entire voluntary service period During the service period Practical arrangements The volunteer has the right to be facilitated and guided from the moment of his/her arrival in the host country. Therefore, the host organisation has to take care of proper practical arrangements. 5 See the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union published in the OJ C 364/01, available for download at 6 Details are available at February 2004 Page 3

4 The volunteer has the right to have free board and lodging. His/her accommodation remains available for him/her throughout the entire service period including holidays. The volunteer has the right to live in a safe and clean accommodation, and to eat sufficient and healthy food. The volunteer has the right to have two consecutive days free per week and of two days of holiday per month. Vacation periods as well as weekly rest days have to be agreed between the host organisation and the volunteer. Regardless of vacation or volunteering period, the volunteer has the right to receive monthly or weekly allowance (pocket money) from the host organisation, corresponding to the amounts stated in the contract. In case the volunteer has transport expenses for attending her/his project activities, such costs are to be covered by the host organisation and will be given to the volunteer, monthly or weekly, in addition to the allowance. Support, training and meetings The volunteer has the right to participate in the on-arrival training upon arrival in the host country. The volunteer has the right to adequate support and guidance to enable her/him to carry out the agreed tasks. The volunteer has the right to receive language training for free, provided or organised by the host organisation. The type of training can be formal or informal. Format, duration and frequency of such training may vary, depending on the needs and abilities of the volunteer, his/her task in the host project, and the host organisation s possibilities. The volunteer has the right to participate in the mid-term meeting in the host country. The volunteer has the right to receive ongoing support from the sending organisation throughout the voluntary service period. The volunteer has the right to have a mentor, with whom s/he will have regular meetings throughout the voluntary service period. The mentor should be appointed by the host organisation, but not be the volunteer s supervisor or otherwise directly involved in the volunteer s daily activities. The mentor is responsible for the personal support of the volunteer. The volunteer has the right to get support from the mentor to be integrated in the organisation, in the project, in the country. The mentor should act as the contact person between the volunteer and the local community. The volunteer has the right to be assisted by the mentor in administrative issues, if necessary. Tasks of the volunteer The volunteer has the right to working conditions that respect her/his personal health, safety and dignity. The volunteer must not be forced to participate in activities not previously agreed, against her/his personal convictions or belief. The volunteer has the right to a full-time service occupation. Her/his project activities (including language and other training related to the project) should take up at least 30 and not more than 35 hours per week. The volunteer must not carry out routine tasks or particular professional tasks, with which the volunteer would replace paid employees. The volunteer must not carry out tasks alone or unsupervised, if they require high responsibility. February 2004 Page 4

5 The volunteer should not be solely responsible for the individual care of vulnerable persons (babies, children, the ill, elderly, disabled people, etc.) on a day-to-day basis. The volunteer has the right to contribute with own ideas, creativity and experiences to develop his/her own projects related to the work of the host organisation. The volunteer has the right to agree with the host organisation on changes in the project, the profile of tasks, areas of responsibility, support and training. Any changes should however remain in line with the general set-up of the agreed and approved project. In case of a serious incident or conflict situation In case of a conflict situation the volunteer has the right to be supported by the host organisation and the sending organisation. In the case of a conflict situation, the volunteer has the right to involve her/his mentor to facilitate the communication between volunteer and host organisation. The mentor should be able to provide the partners involved with independent monitoring and evaluation. In the case of a conflict situation between the volunteer and the mentor, the volunteer has the right to get another person appointed as her/his mentor. In case of a serious incident, the volunteer can expect the mentor to establish and maintain proper contact to the sending organisation, the parents of the volunteer, if required or requested, and the insurance company, if necessary. Whenever the volunteer needs advice and support, s/he has the right to contact the relevant National Agencies / National Coordinators 7 and/or the SOS Volunteer Helpdesk ( phone +32 (0) ) The volunteer has the right to leave the project in case of serious incident or conflict situation that cannot be solved in other ways. Early leaving of the project should always be the last option. 4. Follow up of the service period The volunteer is entitled to receive a certificate produced by the European Commission, attesting the volunteer s participation in EVS and the experience and skills s/he has acquired during the service period. The volunteer has the right to receive support from the sending organisation at the end of the project in order to evaluate the EVS period and achieve the highest benefit from the experience. Such support could also relate to the re-integration in the home country, guidance in personal projects and assistance in Future Capital projects. 8 Within two years after completing the EVS project, the ex-volunteer resident in Programme Countries has the right to apply for a Future Capital project. The volunteer s sending organisation should co-operate with the volunteer, if necessary, when he/she applies for a Future Capital project. 7 For links to National Agencies and National Coordinators please consult the Contact List at 8 Future Capital enables ex-volunteers to pass on the experience and skills acquired during their European Voluntary Service to the local community and other young people. It also provides opportunities for supporting an ex-volunteer s professional and personal development. Information on the support of Future Capital projects as part of Action 3 of the YOUTH programme is available in the Volunteer Helpdesk section at February 2004 Page 5

6 Responsibilities of an EVS Volunteer 1. General The volunteer has the responsibility to respect the principles and rules of the YOUTH programme. The volunteer has to take in consideration the rights and responsibilities of EVS volunteers as outlined in this document. 2. Prior to the arrival The volunteer should take an active role in setting up her/his EVS project together with the sending organisation and the host organisation. The volunteer must read carefully the approved application for her/his EVS project and sign the Partnership Agreement 9 together with the sending organisation and the host organisation. The volunteer shall read carefully the insurance-related information in order to know about the scope and the modalities of the insurance cover. The volunteer must attend a pre-departure training organised in her/his home country. The volunteer has the responsibility to inform the sending organisation and the host organisation about any circumstances that may influence her/his capability to carry out certain tasks. The volunteer should also inform the sending organisation and the host organisations about individual special needs. If necessary, s/he should provide accurate information about health related issues. The volunteer has to provide the sending organisation and the host organisation with the exact dates of departure and arrival. 3. During the service period The volunteer has the responsibility to know and respect the project details as agreed in the Partnership Agreement. The volunteer has the responsibility to respect the rules and the organisational structure existing in the host organisation and declared in the partnership agreement. The volunteer is expected to respect the legislation in force in the host country. The volunteer must not act in any way that could put others or her/himself at the risk of being injured. The volunteer must attend the training sessions organised in the framework of her/his EVS project. This includes the on-arrival training at the beginning of the service period. The volunteer must participate in a mid-term as well a final evaluation meeting, and fill the relevant part of the project reports. The volunteer has to accept the role of the mentor as the person responsible for her/his well-being. 9 The Partnership Agreement is signed between the volunteer, the sending organisation, the host organisation and, where involved in a project, the coordinating organisation. February 2004 Page 6

7 The volunteer must attend the regular meetings organised by the mentor. In case of a problem, the volunteer should seek guidance and support by the mentor and the person responsible for her/his EVS project in the host organisation. The volunteer must keep the host organisation informed about his/her whereabouts during the EVS period. The volunteer has the responsibility to take good care of the accommodation that has been provided for her/him. The volunteer should give the sending organisation regular feedback on his/her experience. The volunteer has to evaluate the overall project together with the sending organisation. In case of a serious incident or conflict situation In case of a conflict situation, the volunteer should co-operate actively with the sending organisation, the host organisation and the mentor to avoid communication problems. In the case the volunteer wants to leave the project, he/she should firstly consult the sending and the host organisations. Early leaving of the project should always be the last option. February 2004 Page 7

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