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Depaul Ireland EVS Programme
Start date: 01 May 2015, End date: 01 Nov 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Context/background of project: Depaul Ireland is a charity supporting people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. We are a cross border organisation established in the Republic of Ireland in 2002 and Northern Ireland in 2005. Depaul Ireland is part of Depaul International, a group of charities working to support people who are homeless and marginalised around the world. Our services span Community and Outreach, Vulnerable Families, Harm Reduction Accommodation services and Criminal Justice and Mental Health Services . Our services are low threshold and some have been the first of their kind. Within the values of the work of Depaul Ireland lies a holistic approach to each individual with whom we work. This involves providing emotional support in addition to physical and practical services. It is within this structure of support that the work of our volunteer programme is vital. In particular, some of the Erasmus + priorities cover themes and issues that our volunteers and service users have been involved in. For example promoting awareness of homelessness issues to the public, developing healthier lifestyle activities within our projects, encouraging service users to develop skills and knowledge for future employment and study and exploring and celebrating culture through art, food and dialogue. Objectives of your project: The volunteer programme was established to enable both local individuals and young people from other countries via Erasmus + to become involved with the work of the organisation. The programme aims to develop the skills and experience of volunteer, provide our service users with opportunities whilst simultaneously enabling Depaul Ireland to offer a more multifaceted approach to our service. • Develop new ideas and skills from a diverse range of volunteers. • Involve volunteers in mutually beneficial activities that can also be shared with our Partners and stakeholders. • Support social dialogue and cultural awareness • Highlight Social Exclusion Issues - homelessness, poverty, barriers to education & employment etc. • Share Depaul Ireland working practices such as Harm Reduction, Low Threshold approaches and Holistic practice. • Equip volunteers and service users with skills and confidence to active citizens Number & profile of participants: Description of activities: This year, in Dublin, we will engage 5 EVS volunteers (3 Italians, 1 Belgian and 1 Spanish) in 5 host projects for 12 months each. 3 volunteers present with fewer opportunities due to economic and health circumstances. The EVS volunteers will develop and facilitate over the 12 months varied programme of diversionary and worthwhile activities to encourage our service users to develop new skills and interests, support harm reduction to tackle unhealthy behaviours, explore cultural identity and support participation in the project and the local community they will return to. Methodology: The Host and Co-ordinating organisation will develop a learning plan and project activities with the individual volunteers. The following would be used to plan, monitor and evaluate the activities: -Training and Induction -Link/include in each service's key performance indicators (KPI’s) and measure quarterly -Impact on SU’s measured in Keyworking sessions -Feedback sessions (eg. SU’s, EVS, Staff Team) -EVS mentoring/supervision sessions utilizing Youthpass competencies -Questionnaires (if applicable to project) before and after -Continual documentation of project (before, during, after) Results and impact and longterm benefit: Below is a summary of just some of the outcomes identified for our Service Users in our 5 EVS Projects as a result of these activities: -Meaningful use of time as a form of harm reduction, A reduction in isolation for those with poor health, Improved life skills, positive social relationships, Interaction with local community groups & services and others, physical activity- promotion of service to local community- increased self confidence and esteem. The volunteers also benefit from the experience of non-formal and informal learning, thus helping them to acquire new skills and abilities which they will bring with them into the future. They will bring a new cultural dimension to each activity and are best placed to take the lead in developing added value activities with our service users and the organisation as a whole We would also expect wider good practice sharing with our partners and an increase in young people making informed choices about Erasmus +, active citizenship and volunteering or employment. The Projects would also be used to promote Depaul Ireland Working practices such as Low Threshold approaches, harm reduction and holistic working styles. Our EVS volunteers also return to their home country equipped with skills and knowledge that will benefit their local community.
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