The beginning of an adventure
9 May 2017
By Sergio Devesa Gutiérrez
European Voluntary Service is an opportunity to fulfil yourself, know other cultures, other languages, other people and another life. All of this happened at once when I decided to apply for placements throughout the UK and Ireland. They ended up choosing a position for me at Leonard Cheshire Disability.
Allow me to introduce myself — my name is Sergio. I'm 24 years old and a social worker. I love to learn and discover new things, and in this period of my life, I wanted to do my part to make a small contribution and cooperate this way with an organisation.
I have realised starting a new life in another country is complicated. You need so many things if you're coming to the UK — adapters, pounds (and learning how to manage them), passport (recommended) and European Health Insurance Card.
How can I know what I'm going to use before I go?
Before packing my luggage I was debating whether to pack a bathing suit or a suit jacket — assessing what I'd use most and what I would find more expensive here. Choose wisely and do not overdo it or else you'll be remarkably charged for any excess weight! And, remember, wherever you go there will be shops.
My destination was Crook, County Durham in north east England. A very small, quiet, peaceful, typically English town to live.
In my case, the arrival was a bit hasty as I attended the training before knowing my placement or where I would be spending the next year.
‘You are given these days like a gift’
Undoubtedly, the training has been a great experience for many reasons. You have the opportunity to meet people from the rest of Europe, in projects which can be very different from yours.
You are given these days like a gift, in order to share all those experiences, desires, and concerns. We are given advice on how to live in a low-cost manner, deal with conflicts which may arise and introduce us to different cultures.
If you are lucky, you'll even make some contacts so you can visit wherever they are.
When we were finished, and after a six hour bus journey, my volunteering colleague Mari and I were picked up at the station in Newcastle and regional roads led us to Crook.
After a month here I can say all of the staff as people who live here have been most kind, and always have a smile ready for us.
Our tasks will be supporting the activity and skills group which takes place three days a week, and supporting residents during possible excursions.
Before we start organising activities we first have to wait for our DBS checks — a document which certificates your criminal history is clean and grants you permission to work with, in this case, vulnerable adults.
Until then we are planning some activities and meeting people with whom we will be working with.
Meanwhile, we have not wasted our time and we have visited Durham, whose cathedral dates from the 11th century and contains a cloister in which scenes from Harry Potter were shot.
We have also visited Newcastle, where we attended the The Late Shows and saw live performances, street art and even attended a silent disco!
This is how my experience is going. Every single person would experience it differently. We may not share the same interests, but I assure you EVS is a great opportunity. It truly feels like an adventure. Are you up for it?
Sergio is an ESV volunteer at Bradbury House.