EcoYouth! – Six months as a Brit in Romania with the European Solidarity Corps

Find out about Georgie, an ESC volunteer we will be supporting, and her expectations for her ESC placement in Romania:

When I tell people that I will be spending six months volunteering in a small town in Romania, it is fair to say most are shocked; between Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, the rest of Europe has never felt so far away! Yet at time of writing, I am less than a week away from leaving my home near Cambridge in the UK to relocate to Băilești, Romania as a volunteer with the European Solidarity Corps. As part of a group drawn from across the EU and other partner countries, I will be part of the ‘EcoYouth’ project team volunteering with the organisation Asociatia Comunitati pentru Tineret (ACT).

You might be asking ‘what is the European Solidarity Corps?’ as it’s not something we hear much about in the UK. ESC is part of the EU Erasmus+ initiative, where participants take part in long term volunteering activities aiming to make societal changes and foster solidarity. All costs of participating are covered by the European Commission, including accommodation, basic costs, travel expenses, and an allowance for food and exploring the host country.  Each ESC volunteer is also provided with a host and a supporting organisation for the duration of their project.

Looking for an adventure after graduating recently, I chose to apply for the EcoYouth project out of the many advertised on the ESC website because of the focus on raising environmental awareness amongst high school students and creating community projects advocating environmental protection. There is little doubt climate change is one of the biggest issues of our generation, and it is up to all of us to make sustainable changes to our lifestyles and in our communities. Therefore, I’m hoping the EcoYouth project will ultimately inspire the students to take charge in implementing recycling and environment-based projects. Similarity, I believe showing the opportunities for volunteering across Europe to develop skills and develop friendships is equally important; the EcoYouth team aside from myself also has members from France, Spain and Denmark.

Hopefully our project will inspire the students to act and become community environmental activists, yet the students will not be the only ones receiving training! Alongside weekly meetings with my mentor, I’m looking forward to training sessions with the Romanian Erasmus+ National Agency where I will meet all the ESC volunteers throughout Romania. As someone who has just left higher education, I believe this opportunity is extremely useful in aiding the transition between classroom and the workplace. On top of this, I have already started with twice weekly Romanian lessons which I am loving so far — Romanian is a Romance language like French and Italian, so I recognise certain words even from my rudimentary high school language classes!

I won’t deny I’m a little nervous! I’ve never been to Romania before and didn’t know much about the country before applying. However, that is one of the key reasons I decided to take part in ESC; the opportunity to push myself outside of my comfort zone and experience life in a different culture and community. Both my host organisation (ACT) and my supporting organisation (IARS) I can honestly say have been fantastic and have supported me every step of the way through organising flights, providing pre-departure training, and helping me apply for a visa. I’ve met my fellow team members via WhatsApp and am very excited to meet them in person!

Now more than ever I believe it is important that Brits make the most of opportunities to volunteer abroad and expand their horizons. British applicants can still apply for European Solidarity Corps projects bid for before the end of the Brexit transition period, meaning that there are many projects starting in 2021 to apply for. I hope to keep you updated on my progress over the coming months, but I would recommend checking out the European Solidarity Corps website at https://europa.eu/youth/solidarity_en . Whatever your interests, there is likely a project that will appeal to you! Until then, la revedere!

Follow the EcoYouth project on social media:

Instagram: ecoyouth_bailesti

Facebook: @actongcraiova

 

ECO-Youth 2020-2-RO01-ESC11-080489

 

 

EMBARGOED 00:01 TUESDAY 8 MARCH 2022 

We are Sculpt

IARS International Institute to operate as Sculpt

*Charity CEO available for interview – details in notes 

A UK-based youth charity today changes its operating name from the IARS International Institute to Sculpt. 

IARS is an international NGO that’s been working to empower young people to forge a fairer society for over 20 years. Their work is guided and evaluated by young people themselves.  

Over the last 20 years, IARS has delivered more than 70 successful projects that have addressed real problems that young people face, in areas such as: 

  • Gender discrimination 
  • Violence against women and girls 
  • Supporting young people to find work 
  • Creating green and sustainable business 
  • Promoting collaboration among young people across the world and much more. 

In 2021, with the world changing rapidly and opportunities for their work shifting, they decided to refresh their purpose and identity, and made the decision to rebrand as Sculpt. 

Claire Bonham, Chief Executive of Sculpt, said: 

‘We are delighted to launch our new brand that speaks to our aim to empower young people to shape their future.

‘We believe that many of today’s young people are facing unjust challenges – economically, environmentally and socially. A fair, sustainable society can only evolve if all young people have the opportunities, the confidence, the ambition and the skills to make their voices heard and propel change in their communities, irrespective of who they are or where they come from.  

‘Our rebrand, like our work, has been guided by research and by young people themselves. As an organisation we base our work on rigorously researched evidence and are led in our approach by our youth advisory board. Their voices and insight are critical to solving the right problems in meaningful ways.’  

 

Notes to editors:  

Dr. Claire Bonham, Chief Executive of The IARS International Institute is available for interview. Contact Claire directly on: director@iars.org.uk +44(0) 7833 224442  

Sculpt

www.sculptuk.org 

Sculpt is a UK-based charity providing research, training and work-experience opportunities that empower young people to shape their own futures and those of their communities. 

We work directly with young people, employers and professionals who support young people. All our work is guided by young people themselves and based on carefully researched evidence. We: 

  • Facilitate forums for young people to make their needs and their voices heard. 
  • Publish a magazine by young people to express their perspectives and encourage debate around public policy issues. 
  • Conduct research to uncover young people’s real needs and what works to empower and support them. 
  • Deliver training to build young people’s confidence, skills, ambition, resilience and sense of responsibility, so they can shape their futures and change their communities for the better, as leaders, social entrepreneurs and active participants in civic life. 
  • Deliver training for professionals who work with young people, drawing on our research and expertise. 
  • Engage with employers to facilitate work experience and employment opportunities for young people to develop skills and access diverse jobs. 
  • Facilitate international exchange opportunities to encourage and enable young people to experience and appreciate other cultures, perspectives and ways of life. 

We tackle disempowerment from three angles: working directly with young people to build confidence and skills and their voice, working with professionals who support young people, and working with employers to break down barriers to opportunity.