A couple of weeks ago, my colleague Zsuzsanna Baczkó and I travelled to Drobeta-Turnu Severin to visit Volonteurope’s member – Asociatia Act Integration – and to deliver Technical Assistance for the EU Aid Volunteers project. As you may know from following our website and Facebook and Twitter feeds, Volonteurope have since 2015 been involved in the EU Aid Volunteers Initiative in a consortium with Hungarian Baptist Aid – Zsuzsanna’s organisation – Alianza por la Solidaridad from Spain and GVC from Italy.
With the EU Aid Volunteers Technical Assistance visit we were able to kill two birds with one stone – both meeting with and learning about Asociatia Act Integration, and also delivering training for the project. Asociatia Act Integration is an entirely volunteer-run organisation, helmed by President Mirela Rusu – who teaches full time during the week and dedicates her evenings, weekends and holidays to the organisation. They organise volunteering activities in Drobeta-Turnu Severin, particularly during the school holidays, running activities such as environmental clean ups, sports activities, and theatre workshops. Mirela was a fantastic guide while we were in her city, showing us all the important sights such as the Water Castle, the ancient citadel and the recently and beautifully renovated theatre, as well as some of the places – such as the municipal sports and tourism building – where they have organised volunteering activites.
Additionally, we were able to meet some of the students of the local university who are involved in volunteering with the organisation, and we had a great discussion about volunteering in Romania, and also how the European Voluntary Service can help people access volunteering opportunities in other countries. Asociatia Act Integration have previously been involved in EVS, having sent a volunteer to Macedonia, but Mirela’s young volunteers wanted to know a bit more about the other countries (particularly Scandinavian) that they might be able to travel to. Hopefully they’ll look into EVS further, and take advantage of its varied opportunities.
Our main task in Drobeta-Turnu Severin was to help Asociatia Act Integration work through the certification requirements of the European Commission’s EU Aid Volunteers programme. For an organisation to achieve accreditation to become a certified sending organisation – so able to send humanitarian aid volunteers to third countries – they need to fulfil a number of specific requirements outlined in the EU Aid Volunteers initiative. These include, amongst others, strict guidelines on safety and security policies, volunteer contracts, equalities policies and others. Mine and Zsuzsanna’s task with Asociatia Act Integration was to review their statutes for existing policies relating to the regulations, recommend and advise upon endorsements when required, and help guide Asociatia Act Integration through the European Commission regulations.
The experience taught myself and Zsuzsanna a lot about Mirela’s organisation – the kind of good practices they already have in place, how they can differ from the ones we use in other parts of Europe – and how some of these practices can be improved. Luckily, we were able to refer throughout to the documents and resources on the Volonteurope community space – and especially the community group dedicated to the EU Aid Volunteers Technical Assistance project. Furthermore, the first webinar training sessions are also archived on Volonteurope’s dedicated EU Aid Volunteers page – these are a great resource to refer back to when going through the accreditation process.
If your organisation is interested in becoming accredited, you can refer to the EACEA portal – and access the regulations. You can apply any time, and even if your organisation does not achieve accreditation the first time round, EACEA will send feedback that you can use to help improve your application for the next time.
By Rosalind Duignan-Pearson