Volunteering for the Future and Volunteers’ Day
The two year Erasmus Plus-funded project, Volunteering for the Future, is coming to an end, and we’ve had a recent flurry of activities around it. A couple of weeks ago I joined the project partners – from Comhlamh, finep and INEX SDA – in Prague for a final transnational meeting to discuss the success and challenges of the project. This meeting gave us a great opportunity to go discuss the lifetime of the project, and evaluate the project’s outputs – such as the Active Citizen Survey, the What Next? Training Resource for Returned Volunteers and the local versions (the UK one is here) and the recent online course.
We recently ran the online course, taking place over four weeks, but the course itself is a continuing, stand-alone resource. It can be accessed by anyone interested in enhancing their own volunteering and looking hints and tips on how to engage in their local communities. Check it out, and reflect on and develop your own action projects to engage in locally!
Last Friday we also held our last multiplier event for the Volunteering for the Future project. This Volunteers’ Day was held in the Katherine Low Settlement in Battersea, and brought together 25 volunteers for a day of workshops and activities. Chaos on the London rail network meant that we had to start a bit later than planned, but it was fantastic day of activities and engagement. We started the day with a presentation of the Engaging Returned Volunteers in Active Citizenship report to introduce the themes of the day. Then, an icebreaker activity, which was a great chance for the participants to get to know each other a bit better and re-energise – the UK is in the midst of a sweltering heatwave and with nearly 30 people in a room it got very hot very quickly!
Then we moved onto the workshop. My colleague Laura de Bonfils worked with the volunteers to explore active citizenship, specifically looking at the engagement in local communities. The volunteers thought about the communities in which they are based, and the kinds of action projects that are sorely needed. They worked together to think about how they would start action projects, on which subjects, and who they would speak to in civil society, councils, schools etc. to instigate them. The session prompted lots of interesting ideas, and got the participants to think in depth about the issues that are affecting their communities and how best to make an impact.
The afternoon session was a chance for volunteers to share the volunteering opportunities they know of in their local areas, and to talk about their own volunteering experiences in abroad and in the UK. Each volunteer received a copy of the volunteering manuals (which can be found here), and details for the online volunteering course to help them take their volunteering to the next level. The Volunteering for the Future project may be officially ending, but the outputs produced will continue to be useful in the future, and our hope is that they will be passed on to other projects after participants have finished using them for their own activities.
Rosalind Duignan-Pearson, Volonteurope