Need fresh forces to engage in citizens’ consultations? Host IVY volunteers!

    Over the seven years of its action, the Interreg Volunteer Youth initiative (IVY) has proved to be a valuable resource for both Interreg programmes and projects. Since 2017 almost 900 young people supported communication in 64 Interreg programmes, and complemented activities in over 300 Interreg projects. The opportunity not to be missed by the Neighbourhood CBC family!

    The cross-roads of three programming cycles – ENI CBC, Interreg NEXT and post-2027 – increase the programmes’ demands. And this is where a helping hand from young Interreg volunteers can make a difference. IVYs can bring additional support to programmes in communication – like writing articles, making interviews, assisting with newsletters, translating materials or organizing events. And not only that.

    We have just signed an amendment with the European Commission to introduce some novelties in IVY, including the possibility for Interreg programmes to host volunteers to support the consultations on the future of Interreg,” – says Cinzia Dellagiacoma, IVY project manager.  So, in 2024 each Interreg programme involved in the post-2027 consultation process can receive extra support from an IVY volunteer. They can request to host a third volunteer (on top of the limit of two IVYs per programme per year) to assist in all steps of preparing and carrying out post-2027 consultations.  “In practice, she or he can give a hand in broader communication and engagement of citizens and stakeholders, for example reaching out to new actors in the area, suggesting inclusive ways of involving local communities and sharing their fresh ideas representing the needs of young people,” – explains the manager. Moreover, volunteers have a possibility to organize their own so-called Citizens’ Engagement Activities receiving up to 3 000 Euros directly from DG REGIO to promote cohesion policy through a dialogue with the citizens. Volunteers can also use this money to organize events in frame of the post-2027 consultation process.

    The advantages of hosting a young volunteer were appreciated by over 300 Interreg projects, including 20 ENI CBC projects. Apart from communication, young people supported other project activities, such as data research or dissemination of project results. “I remember one volunteer, involved in an extremely technical project, who was going around schools to explain the use of water. This means bringing the outcomes of a projects to the civil society, even beyond what would be the usual target group, and doing it in a more personal and graspable way.” – says Cinzia.

    The impact of IVY in the last seven years is very tangible: more programmes and projects are working now with the youth and for the youth, as many initiatives for young people have been set up within the framework of Youth4Cooperation. In 2020 the European Commission launched the Manifesto for Young People by Young People to Shape the European Cooperation Policy to consult young people about Interreg, involving many IVY volunteers in this process. As a result, some Interreg programmes have already created Youth Councils which closely collaborate with programme partners.

    Moreover, after the IVY experience, many volunteers continue their career in Interreg programmes and projects, but also in other organisations working for cooperation, including the European Commission and the Association of the European Border Regions (AEBR) itself.

    This all makes us particularly proud of IVY. It is a great opportunity to involve young people in cooperation, which also means it is a great occasion to make cooperation policy more accessible and more inclusive. And most of all, it allows young people to become active actors in cooperation. Sharing knowledge and skills on Interreg with the youth reinforces solidarity across generations, and it is an investment in the sustainability of cooperation in the future, while helping uphold the values of the EU and of Interreg.” – concludes Cinzia.


    IVY in a nutshell


    What is the Interreg Volunteer Youth (IVY) initiative?

    IVY is a volunteering programme by the European Commission’s DG REGIO to support Interreg. Young people aged 18 to 30 make a civil service activity at Interreg programmes and projects with the objective of promoting Interreg and reporting about its benefits. AEBR manages the programme on behalf of DG REGIO.

    What does it mean to host a volunteer?

    The role of volunteers is to enrich European Territorial Cooperation with their unique competences and perspectives. Volunteers provide additional support, they complement and supplement the work of paid staff, bringing the added value of involving young people in the process and therefore gaining a new perspective.

    How is an IVY deployment organised?

    Interreg programmes host Interreg reporters, who support with communication tasks. Interreg project beneficiaries can host Interreg project partners, who support with tasks related to the project implementation.

    The activity of the volunteer is based on the tasks and areas where there is need for complementary support which are identified by the host organisation itself.

    Volunteers can be hosted for 2 to 6 months. They receive the financial support of 800-1000 euro per month and a contribution to travel costs to relocate, transferred to them by AEBR directly. Each volunteer has full health, accident and liability insurance. The administration of the deployment is managed by AEBR, including visa issues and the contract.

    Can a Neighbourhood Partner Country host an IVY?

    IVY covers all Interreg countries: EU, EEA, IPA, ENI plus Switzerland and the UK. There is no difference, in terms of participation, where the host organization and the volunteer are based – both the EU Member States and Partner Countries are equally eligible. A volunteer can be as well from the same country of the hosting organisation outside of the EU (e.g. a Tunisian IVY can be hosted by an organisation based in Tunisia).

    How to host an IVY?

    Interreg programmes and projects interested in hosting an IVY volunteer apply to AEBR. The application documents as well as guidelines, can be found here. It takes from 5 till 8 weeks from the moment of applying to find and host an IVY volunteer.

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