Our EU Aid Volunteers Technical Assistance project has recently entered into a new and very exciting stage, one in which we, as the project consortium, have started delivering the actual Technical Assistance visits to partner organisations in our initiative. Our consortium is made up four partners – GVC, HBAid, Volonteurope and Alianza por la Solidaridad – and through our collaboration we combine expertise in hosting and sending volunteers, providing humanitarian aid, and managing volunteers. We are able to call on these diverse skills when providing Technical Assistance (hereafter TA) to participating organisations, helping them on their journey towards becoming accredited EU Aid Volunteers sending organisations.
What makes our project quite unique and different from other TA activities undertaken by other consortia (as was evident at the EU Aid Volunteers Network Meeting in Brussels in February this year), is that we are providing extra knowledge and developing capacity for organisations outside of the core consortium. This is really important for us as right from the beginning of the project we have been aiming to ensure that the EU Aid Volunteers programme becomes known much more widely across Europe and that more organisations are set on the path for future certification as sending organisations.
We kicked off the first TA visit here in London, with Volunteering Matters. Peter Nesbitt was representing the organisation, while the “EUAV Team” was made up by Kasia Tusiewicz, Rosalind Duignan-Pearson and Piotr Sadowski. Volunteering Matters has a lot of policies, extensive experience and knowledge already in place, concerning areas of volunteer management and in-country deployment. The task will be to now adapt these existing structures to the EU Aid Volunteers context, and we look forward to engaging our Volunteering Matters host organisation in the process. Sadly, we also need to mention that Peter Nesbitt, who joined the Volonteurope Board in October last year, is shortly leaving Volunteering Matters to pursue a new, exciting job opportunity, so he will be stepping down from the Volonteurope Board in early April.
We also completed a TA in Madrid, 13-14 March, for MPDL (Movimiento por la Paz). Piotr and Sandra Victoria Salazar from Alianza por la Solidaridad were the team in charge and worked over the course of two days with Vicente Baeza and Cayetana Bellisco from MPDL. Our Spanish partner is already very experienced in sending volunteers to Latin and South America, and, following the TA visit, the organisation will look at adapting some existing policies and structures to the requirements of the EU Aid Volunteers certification, as well as introducing some new ones, and we will continue to be in contact with Vicente and Cayetana, offering them ongoing support once the decision is made by MPDL to embark on the certification process.
Zsuzsanna Baczkó of HBaid travelled with Rosalind to visit Asociatia Act Integration (AAI) in Drobeta-Turnu Severin in Romania. While there, they worked with Asociatia’s President, Mirela Rusu, to work through the requirements of the initiative. AAI is a very small, entirely volunteer-run organisation, however, they already have experience in both sending and hosting volunteers through EVS. While they didn’t have all of the policy documents required during our visit, it was clear that with a bit of work they would be able to improve the documents that they already have to meet the requirements of the initiative, in addition to creating some new policy.
Between 15 and 17 March, Rosalind travelled to Florence to meet with Sara Alves and deliver Technical Assistance at CESVOT. CESVOT is a regional organisation, with the aim of delivering training to volunteers, project assistance, communication support and more, throughout Tuscany. Sara and Rosalind worked with Sandra Gallerini on an intensive Technical Assistance training session, which covered all the requirements of the certification process. With the help of various other departments at CESVOT – such as the programmes department, human resources and others – Sandra, Sara and Rosalind were able to work through the questionnaire and identify many of the documents required for certification. By working with these different departments and Sandra, Rosalind and Sara were able to view the current documentation and give advice on how to improve it – if required.
The size of CESVOT, and its large and diverse membership, meant that for some aspects of documentation, they can call on their members and partners for advice and development. This is also something that the consortium have reiterated throughout the various training sessions we have conducted – organisations can call on other organisations and other institutions such as universities to help improve and reshape their policies to ensure that they match the requirements of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative. Furthermore, as CESVOT did, it is important to communicate within your organisation to find out what structures and policy are already in place.
The EU Aid Volunteers sending accreditation can at first seem daunting, but one thing we have all found through our technical assistance visits is that the route to certification is not actually as long as it first might seem!
We’re looking forward to delivering more Technical Assistance visits throughout April – stay tuned to hear what we’re up to!