Effects of inclusion on participants

For inclusion to have a real effect, it must be upheld by actions and not solely rely on words.

It is important to consider inclusion in Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps projects. It is not sufficient to state that inclusion is taken into account, as inclusion can only be genuinely achieved through the active participation of all participants.

The aim of Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) is to promote inclusion of all people by facilitating access to the programmes, regardless of circumstances.

This is done through special supplementary grants, with emphasis on certain priority groups in Erasmus+ and ESC and apply to individuals who, due to different circumstances in their lives, do not have the same opportunities as others, or feel they do not have them and would pursue them less.

Projects in both ESC and Erasmus+ can apply for increased funding to encourage the participation of people who need inclusion support. The funding is intended to cover additional costs for those requiring support in various ways, in order for them to fully participate. During the implementation of an Erasmus+ and ESC project, there is also an opportunity to apply for actual costs for an accompanying person. Within Erasmus+, it is also possible to apply for smaller partnerships aimed primarily at grassroots organisations or smaller organisations that are beginners to the programme. Smaller partnerships are aimed at organisations which have special resources to reach individuals with fewer opportunities, for example because of their specialisation.

What is an inclusion project?

All projects in Erasmus+ and ESC are encouraged to consider the diverse range of participants and their needs. This is to strengthen the participation of those who would otherwise be less likely to take part in the opportunities offered by Erasmus+ and ESC. Projects specifically aimed at individuals who need inclusive support are projects that are based on the participation of one or more individuals who experience fewer opportunities than their fellow citizens.

The application must clearly describe what restrictions affect the individual's opportunities to participate in the project. There must also be a description of how the project is designed, how to reach the target audience, and on the basis of what definitions the person has been selected for the project.

In addition, it must be clearly stated how the project intends to meet the needs of the individuals in the best way appropriate to their circumstances. This could mean, for example, that the person receives extra support in the form of a mentor or assistant, language support, or that the implementation of the project is adapted in some other way.

In inclusion projects, it is not sufficient to demonstrate that individuals with fewer opportunities have participated or are invited to participate in the project, without demonstrating how the project contributes to their active participation on an equal basis with other participants.

What about other projects? 

Additionally, projects that are not specifically designed for a group of individuals needing inclusive support, should still take inclusion into account. This could mean taking a look at different individuals present in the group and considering what would make their participation easier or more accessible. This can for example include accounting for mental health issues, health related issues, linguistic or cultural variety and dietary needs. 

Example: Will there be extra cost providing a specific type of meal for participants with dietary restrictions during the project? This could be considered under inclusion, as those participants would not be able to fully participate on the same footing as others without the specific meal. 

How does the programme support people in need of inclusion?

  • Institutions and organisations. Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps have different ways to facilitate individual participation. Organisations and institutions that organise projects and receive an Erasmus+ grant can apply for special supplementary grants or receive support so that all project participants can participate. This could be, for example, an extra grant for transportation costs, for assistive devices, a grant for a supportive person or interpreter services, or even a grant to cover expenses that less affluent participants might have difficulty fulfilling.

  • Individuals. Individuals participating in an Erasmus+ mobility abroad or volunteering with the European Solidarity Corps can apply for additional financial support or reimbursement of costs for inclusion reasons. This could include, for example, increased costs to transport aids abroad, such as wheelchairs, or to employ an accompanying person or interpreter. Actual costs could, for example, take the form of reimbursement of costs for regular psychological services or necessary medical care during your stay. For student mobility please refer to the sending institution's policy on inclusive support. 

ExampleA group of young people from Ireland came to Iceland for a youth exchange. The young people came from less affluent families and most did not have passports. The project applied for inclusive support to accommodate participants in the cost of passports, but also for outdoor clothing that most of them did not own – as the trip to Iceland was aimed at participants being very involved in outdoor activities and should, for example, bring hiking shoes. Without this support, many individuals in the group probably would not have participated.

Inclusion in the European Solidarity Corps

The European Solidarity Corps (ESC) is an EU volunteering programme that enables young people aged 18-30* to travel to Europe and volunteer with certified organisations.

European Solidarity Corps projects usually last 2-12 months, but young people who feel unable to take on longer projects due to their circumstances are offered the opportunity to take part in shorter stays (ranging from 2 weeks to 2 months), with the possibility of taking part in a longer project. Individuals who need inclusive support can also choose to volunteer in their home country, e.g. in a neighbouring municipality.

*From 2022, young people up to the age of 35 can participate in the European Solidarity Corps programme, in special humanitarian aid volunteer activities.

Why should organisations and municipalities apply for Erasmus+ and ESC projects?

Erasmus+ and ESC are programmes that encourage people to take an active part in democratic society and promote their mobility across Europe. Enabling individuals to take part in the opportunities of the programme not only improves their post-experience skills, but also promotes their participation in society. The programme's projects also provide organisations with the opportunity to exchange knowledge with organisations abroad, learn more about the different activities of similar organisations and promote inclusion.

Why should people participate in Erasmus+ and ESC?

Participation in Erasmus+ and ESC projects is a way for people to acquire new skills, learn a new language and participate in relevant language work. Moreover, for young people, it can be a way to shape the future and build a CV. International experiences offer opportunities to get to know others and create connections.

Participating in projects boosts self-confidence and increases their skills. All of this can have a positive impact on learning and career opportunities – or professional development – after the projects' end. For young people, it is often a question of benefiting from leaving their home, trying different fields of work and relying on themselves. In addition, Erasmus+ and ESC enable young people to discover Europe, encounter other cultures and promote solidarity, regardless of economic circumstances.

  • Youth participants in the programmes will receive a Youthpass, a certificate for recognition of non-formal learning.

What does research say about the impact of youth participation in Erasmus+ and ESC?

The research network RAY has studied the impact of youth participation and project coordinators in Erasmus+ and ESC projects. Participation includes key skills such as recognising different job opportunities, acquiring skills to work in the group and developing as individuals. Participants improve their skills in working with individuals who speak other languages, understanding people from different cultural backgrounds and tackling challenges together. Many young people talk about how they have become more active in society after participating in programme projects.

Good to consider before applying for inclusion grants in Erasmus+ and ESC 

It is good to take part in international courses that focus on inclusion and it is possible to receive funding from the NA of Erasmus+ to participate in them. Individuals can also participate in webinars and workshops at home and abroad to learn more about the programmes or read about the opportunities in our newsletter or on the web.

By participating in inclusive Erasmus+ and ESC projects, organisations can draw inspiration from other organisations experienced in working with inclusion and diversity. Additionally, they can provide their participants with opportunities they otherwise wouldn't have.

By identifying the needs of their participants, project coordinators can apply specifically for financial support to meet their needs. For more knowledge and inspiration about inclusion and diversity in the European Solidarity Corps and Erasmus+, please refer to the programmes' manuals, European inclusion strategy and youth work, see SALTO brochures.

  • Inclusion A-Z https://www.salto-youth.net/rc/inclusion/inclusionpublications/inclusionatoz/

  • Find contacts in Europe that work specifically with inclusion and diversity https://www.salto-youth.net/tools/otlas-partner-finding/

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