Catherine: EPTO's latest EVS

It has been my great pleasure to be volunteering with EPTO as an EVS since the beginning of June. I’m British, and EPTO had been on my radar for a while before I even applied: I have a background in using peer training methods to work with young people in the field of antidiscrimination. For the past few years I have worked with Sexpression in Oxford, running workshops for teenagers around sexual health, self-esteem and healthy relationships, and with Diversity Role Models in London, working in schools to help students devise their own strategies for combating homophobic bullying.

I wanted to make the move into working full-time for an NGO that shared my values and preferred methods, and was very happy to discover that EPTO was welcoming full-time volunteers under the EVS scheme. I have been lucky to have a great mentor in Julie Godfroid. She has helped me put together a programme of work during my six-months-long project that has enabled me to learn as much as possible about the many different aspects of the work of EPTO’s head office.

Very soon after I started, I was able to see how EPTO works at the front line, as I was able to join the team in Cluj-Napoca as they facilitated a Train the Trainer week for youth workers from all over Europe. I was also able to participate in the annual members’ event in Brussels.  All the work in the head office made much more sense after both of these events – seeing the real work that goes on, and getting a sense of the diversity and richness of some of EPTO’s member network.

Since then I have been doing my very best to repay the wonderful team for letting me have a window into their world. I am kept quite busy as there is always twice as much to do as hours in the day to do it: preparing international meetings, like the upcoming Peer Forum; helping organise the development of a new programme; writing funding applications; and of course, generally offering a bit of English-language proofreading to anyone who needs it. As I try to cope with speaking French every day at the office, it is a humbling reminder of how brilliant you all are, EPTO partners and members, to be doing such complex work while often using a language that is not your own.

The time is going so fast; I can’t believe that I only have a couple of months left. So far it has been a great pleasure to be in contact with some of you as we look forward to the Peer Forum. Thank you for your patience with me as I’ve been learning how you all work, and I hope to meet even more of you in October!