It is always great to be in Madrid, but this week’s EU Aid Volunteers meeting to launch the second technical assistance project was an opportunity to forge new relationships with new partners in the project from Italy, Greece and Romania.  Alianza por la Solidaridad does a great job of leading the project and I am really pleased that Volonteurope and Volunteering Matters continues to be a key player in the programme.

 

So what did we want to achieve in Madrid?  We wanted to create and confirm the new partnership and to examine in depth the workplan for the project.  We wanted to look at the budget available and how it will be managed.  And we wanted to think about a common communication and visibility strategy.  And our two and a half days of meeting really got into the meat of these topics.

 

So what will the second technical assistance project deliver? Well, the first thing that we will work on over the next two years is strengthening the national focal points.  These have been established across the EU in the UK, in Italy, in Hungary, in Spain, in Romania and in Malta.  These will be the points of information about the programme and how to become a certified sending organisation for the programme.  Volunteering Matters hopes this year to complete all the work needed to comply with the standards for certification.  Like many organisations, the areas where we have gaps in terms of our volunteer management and policies are around working in third countries and humanitarian aid projects.  But the great thing about the technical assistance project is that there are four other partners who are experts in this area and who can help with the expertise that we need.

 

The technical assistance project will deliver lots of training on all aspects of the EU Aid Volunteers programme – both face to face and through webinars and on-line training.  Volunteering Matters hopes to be able to contribute to the training; we have staff across the UK who are really skilled in all sorts of areas of volunteer management but also in communications and financial management, just to give some examples.

 

We spent a lot of time discussing how we can make this programme more visible to both organisations which might eventually become sending organisations but also to potential volunteers.  We are particularly interested in trying to recruit older volunteers – for example people who are recently retired and might consider six months or a year working in capacity building in the area of humanitarian aid.

 

Why was I there?  Well, as Chief Executive of Volunteering Matters and President of Volonteurope, I want to give this project my full support.  At Volunteering Matters, we believe that European solidarity with third countries and humanitarian aid is very important and we want to continue to be part of this project, even after Brexit.  I would love to see more volunteers from the UK take the opportunity to become EU Aid Volunteers and I am determined that Volunteering Matters will be a certified sending organisation in the near future and be fully involved in implementing the project.

Oonagh Aitken, President of Volonteurope