The class of '23

22nd January 2024

The class of '23

End of the ESC in the UK 

Main photo: Andrzej Szypulski

As the sun set on a busy 2023, it brought to an end our participation in the European Solidarity Corps programme. Funded through the European Union, the European Solidarity Corps (ESC), which was previously known as the European Voluntary Service (EVS) enables young people from around Europe to undertake volunteering, traineeships, solidarity actions and even humanitarian activity in other programme countries. In recent years, LGBTIQ+ young people from LEAP Sports have travelled to some fantastic placements around Europe and we have hosted some fabulous international volunteers.   

UK participation in the programme ended with the UK's withdrawal from the European Union and placements in the last few years have been funded from grants secured pre-2020. But despite tougher conditions for mobility including new visa requirements and lengthier validation processes, we're thrilled to have had a fantastic 2023 cohort. Here are their own experiences in their own words. 

Jennifer Campbell          

Jennifer travelled from Scotland to work with the European University Sports Association (EUSA) based in Llubjana, Slovenia. Overall, the most valuable part of this experience has been the opportunity to meet people from all over the world with different passions, ideas and cultures. Amongst the young people I met, a common theme I noticed was their abundance of experience with different people and cultures from across Europe and the immense value this had on each of them for their own personal growth was so clear. I hope that the future will bring more opportunities like this for the youth of Scotland as I think it is a great misfortune that the Scottish youth will now be deprived of the extraordinary and enriching experience that the ESC scheme offers.

Jennifer arrives in Slovenia

A visit to European Union House

Jennifer's article on community sport

And she's no bad on the guitar too

        Megan McIntyre 

Megan travelled to live and work in Catalonia to get some experience of how third sector organisations work in other countries. Being based in Barcelona she primarily volunteered with La Xixa and Mosaiq

I had an opportunity whilst I was in Catalonia to volunteer in Girona at La Serra, where the German/Lithuanian/ Ukrainian part of Generation Europe (the largest ESC project ever) was being hosted. I volunteered to help with the logistics of hosting the group at La Serra. This was the real highlight of my trip. Seeing how the La Serra team flawlessly hosted and catered the exchange, whilst managing their off-grid farm was really inspiring and I would love to be able to host my own youth projects at some point in the future.

I am so thankful for the work of LEAP sports and the ESC and for being given this opportunity. I'm deeply saddened that future generations of young people won't have these same opportunities available to them as I feel as though they are truly life changing.

Fiammetta Rittatore              

Fi joined us from Eufemia in Torino.  What has this internship given me? I try not to be trivial, so I would answer a lot of fun but also a real insight into adult life. Nothing has been what I imagined. I was able to see the perfect balance that is observed from the outside is actually a complex machine that has to work. I have to say I've been so lucky. My housemate is now my best friend and I'd say that in Glasgow I found a second home and my friends are my second family. I've never felt so comfortable and myself. The queer atmosphere allowed me to discover myself and be happy with the person that I am. They also helped me to understand my way, professionally and privately.

Fi joins Rainbow Youth training in Pitlochry

   Volunteer blog: Shooky                      Shooky Shi               

Shooky took advantage of a domestic strand of the programme which enabled him to relocate from within Scotland to join us in Glasgow. The ESC programme has allowed me to engage in a project that interests me deeply. I have experienced many challenges, possibilities, and rewards throughout this process. This project has immersed me in a cross-cultural work environment. In daily coordination and interaction with colleagues, we exchange viewpoints, work logic, and ways of thinking from different cultural backgrounds. Additionally, the training provided by this project has allowed me to meet many friends from other European countries. We share our lives, experiences, and difficulties in the UK.

Shooky's volunteer story


          Kaja Atanasov 

Kaja joined us from DiH in Slovenia. Thanks to ESC I got to explore and live in a new city far away from home. The exchange contributed to my personal growth as I had to step out of my comfort zone and start a new life on the other side of Europe; and work-wise I got to try some new sports such as curling, snowboarding, padel and rollerskating, which I never thought I would try, let alone be good at. 

Written on 22nd January 2024.