[:en]The EU Aid Volunteers Technical Assistance project that we started in 2015 has just had its final evaluation meeting! The Technical Assistance project has seen the consortium members (from Alianza por la Solidaridad, HBAid, GVC and Volonteurope) travel to nine different European countries to provide Technical Assistance to sixteen different organisations. In every case, we have helped increase capacity, provided invaluable advice and also learnt lots about the beneficiary organisations.


The EU Aid Volunteers initiative was devised and funded by the European Commission, and recognises the extent to which humanitarian organisations rely on the help of volunteers to deliver aid to disaster-struck communities. Furthermore, it recognises that volunteering abroad is a way for European citizens to support developing countries while gaining invaluable experience.  All too often however, aid volunteers are deployed to crisis zones without undergoing sufficient screening or training. While in some cases this renders volunteers merely ineffective, in others it can put both volunteers and local communities at risk.


The European Commission’s EU Aid Volunteers initiative aimed to unite volunteers and voluntary organisations from across Europe by offering practical support in the planning and implementation of humanitarian aid projects. To maximise positive impact and ensure the safety of both volunteers and local communities, sending and receiving organisations working with the EU Aid Volunteers programme have been subject to rigorous standards set by the Commission.


Joining together as a consortium in 2015 to implement the project, Alianza por la Solidaridad, Hungarian Baptist Aid, GVC and Volonteurope combined wide expertise in humanitarian aid and volunteer management to support the implementation of the initiative through offering Technical Assistance. This Technical Assistance involved building the capacity of organisations involved in sending volunteers on humanitarian aid missions, and helping these same organisations prepare for accreditation under the scheme.


When the EU Aid Volunteers programme was first established, only twelve organisations across the European Union were accredited to send volunteers through the initiative. Through accessing Volonteurope’s wide network of members across Europe, as well as mapping potential interested organisations, the Technical Assistance consortium has worked with 16 organisations to first evaluate their processes, policies and statutes, and then to increase their capacity before they go on to apply for accreditation.


And this week, all the consortium partners have been in Brussels, meeting with representatives from EACEA and DG ECHO, discussing the future of the project and also its successes and challenges. We were also joined by representatives from Tulip Foundation, Foundation for Africa, Chance for Life and ASUR, who gave some really valuable perspectives on their own experiences of being involved in the project. We also spoke about how to ensure the sustainability of the project going forward, and the important role that the Focal Points will play in this.


I have tweeted about this quite a lot recently, but another factor that will help guarantee the future of the project is the Volonteurope platform, and the EU Aid Volunteers section on the website. The platform is still a place where interested organisations can get together and contact other organisations involved in the EU Aid Volunteers project. Furthermore, all the resources and Guidelines that we have produced as part of the project are hosted on the EU Aid Volunteers page of the Volonteurope website. They are free to download, and are fantastic help when it comes to tackling the accreditation. Please do have a look at them because they are a great resource.[:]