Partner Organisations: Kharkiv Association for Active Youth “Stella” (Ukraine), Association Euroaccion (Spain), Cazalla International (Spain), MEDesTU (Portugal), Rota Jovem (Portugal), Office for Initiatives Promotion (Belarus), NGO Fialta (Belarus), Academy of Inovation (Russia), Regional Youth Public Organization Opora (Russia) and Center for Dialogue and Reconciliation Iskra (Ukraine)
In this blogpost:
A spirit of innovation has characterised the year 2020, with normal rhythms having to adapt to an upturned world. The Community Goes Europe Final Evaluation Meeting was no exception to this! An original plan to bring partner organisations and ESC volunteers together, in early-2020 in Portugal, was reworked into an online meeting held last week, in late December.
Community Goes Europe?
A 36-month-long KA1 project, funded by the Erasmus+ Program, coordinated by Culture Goes Europe. The project supported young people across Europe into new opportunities to engage in solidarity activities that addressed societal challenges and strengthened communities, while also equipping them with the skills and competences needed for their own personal and professional development at the beginning of their careers.
Final Evaluation Meeting
This was a complimentary activity, which gathered project coordinators, who worked directly with volunteers from the hosting and sending organisations, as well as volunteers themselves to aggregate, analyse, and evaluate the results of the project. Over two days, partners and volunteers reflected on the 36 month-long-long project, exploring many different threads of the project, including:
- the results of a survey on the experiences, opportunities, and struggles of ESC volunteers within the project,
- the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of ESC opportunities going forwards,
- financial and administrative elements of the project,
- the European Youth Week 2019 projects implemented by participants,
- conceptualising support schemes for post-volunteers,
- planning an alumni and support network for volunteers.
Initial conclusions: How we can build more impactful ESC Opportunities
Volunteers and partner organisations anaylsed our follow-up survey results, and formed a series of ideas for improving ESC opportunities, identified a series of good practices within CGE, and highlighted issues within ESC opportunities.
Issues for ESC Volunteers:
- Mismatching expectations between Volunteers/Organisations on activities and experience, as well as living situations. This can create friction and break down communication.
- Repeating activities for 12 months, Volunteers should be enabled to work in a variety of areas and follow interests. Work should be led primarily by learning potential, not organisational needs.
- A non-motivating work environment (for various reasons, such as working hours of the office, work culture, resources). Need organisational culture which enables a volunteer to thrive and be motivated.
- Solution: develop a work schedule and ideas for initiatives and projects. Vols can be enabled to be valuable.
- Volunteers need quality learning opportunities for language.
- Orgs need more resources to provide this.
Ideas for more impactful ESC opportunities:
- Reflection Process / Evaluation: Trilateral Reflection and Evaluation meetings between Volunteer, Host, and Sending organisation (as well as Bilateral meetings). There is a need to ensure issues are not missed.
- Mentors: Important to have them and to ensure they are external and outside the host org. Ex-volunteers are ideal mentors.
- Transition plans for volunteers post-ESC, similar to on-arrival inductions/planning.
Good Practices within the Community Goes Europe project:
- The Kick-off Meeting was a good practice. Kickstarts comm between all organisations.
- Very good to have online bridges with sending organisations. This helps with Post-ESC transition
- Make Volunteers feel part of a whole broader project of CGE, not just one single ESC.
- Liked building a broad international network of volunteers.
- Orgs should encourage Mentors to keep up communication post-ESC.
- Develop a schedule and goals for volunteers, and spark ideas of initiatives and activities.
An important part of our evaluation meeting was the launching of the CGE Network, which was designed by participants as a way to mobilise the knowledge and experience of volunteers and organisations within Community Goes Europe projects towards future projects.
We held a brainstorming session and conceptualised the role of the network and how it can support volunteers to be ambassadors for CGE values and to be a support network for the volunteers of future cycles of Community Goes Europe.
Our working group will work through this brainstorming and will help establish communication channels so that the network can begin to develop!
We would like to express special thanks to Youth Garage e.V. for supporting this event and providing the space, equipment, technical and coordination assistance in order to make sure the Final Evaluation Meeting runs smoothly.