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Online Toolkit

Part 4 - Key Concepts, Models, and Tools


Volunteering

Youth organisations provide important opportunities and resources for young people in the EuroMed region. Countless hours are given by young people to these organisations - supporting, setting up and sustaining initiatives aimed at serving young people. When talking about youth we see that international volunteering is an important trend.

Volunteering is based on the free will of a person and it is not compulsory. It is a personal decision: volunteers care enough to serve people in need, and they decide who they want to support. Volunteering has a social, human and economic impact everywhere it takes place - and it takes place everywhere in the world. Volunteers portray by actions, not by words, important human values which are relevant to all cultures and religions, like solidarity, care, equality, kindness, and charity.

Volunteering is about giving time, energy, and effort without wanting anything in return. However, volunteers not only give, they also gain valuable knowledge, meet friends, have fun, and make a difference. Volunteering is also an excellent way to share your thoughts, ideas, and concerns, and to reflect on them with others. Volunteering builds bridges between different communities, groups, and individuals. In some cases, organisations are linked with a specific community and keep an ideological, religious, or political orientation. In other cases, they are genuine meeting points between different communities, working hand in hand for a shared mission of making our communities more cohesive. Volunteers need to be socially recognised and promoted!


Youth and volunteering

One reason why young people can be positive agents for change in their societies is because the period between childhood and adulthood is conducive to volunteering. Young people have a lot of energy, motivation, and time to volunteer for causes they care about. Voluntary work is common among youth as it provides them with deep insight into the social and economic conditions that different parts of their society are facing, and thus grants them with a future experience related to a range of fields. Volunteerism can be associated with youth organisations focused on finding opportunities for youth to serve their communities through a variety of activities. Young people volunteer for a number of projects related to intercultural dialogue and peace, as seen in the organisations profiled in the beginning of this toolkit.


Why Volunteer?

  • At a personal level, there is a learning dimension:
    • Being a volunteer is an opportunity to build character, develop skills and attitudes, gain practical experience to get a job, and enlarge personal networks and contacts.
    • It offers you with new opportunities to find a better future and engage in your personal interests.
  • At a community level, there is a social dimension:
    • Volunteers are transforming realities and improving societies, working for community progress and development when no-one else is helping them.
    • Volunteering shows social responsibility, and the fact that you care about others and about your community.
  • At an organisational / civil society level, volunteers play the most crucial role:
    • Volunteer-based organisations have the energy, hands-on competence, skills and ideas of volunteers, who believe in what they are doing, and work hard for it!
    • These organisations will not survive without volunteers.

Peace and Volunteering

From the holistic perspective of peace, volunteers are helping to solve social problems like lack of education, poverty, environmental awareness, and supporting people with disabilities; creating the conditions for social and human development. Volunteering makes people more aware of their rights, creates learning opportunities (language, intercultural learning, leadership initiative, project management, building social networks, and connecting between people from different cultures and backgrounds) and makes you more aware about the problems and needs in your own society.

Volunteering itself creates a space for intercultural learning and communication. By creating new interactions, young people are working to bring societies and cultures together. It is also through volunteering than many young people get acquainted with non-formal education.