Volunteering in time of crisis: what lessons learned?

Last June 16th YouthProAktiv participated in the online event organized by the Lifelong Learning Platform on Volunteering in time of crisis. The event counted with the view of key stakeholders like Maria Ines Monteiro Da Conceicao (European Solidarity corps member), Eliska Suchomelová (Scout) Anne Taljavaara-Gore (Scout and project manager in Finland), Bart Wolput (Give a Day coordinator) and Floor Van Houdt (Head of Unit “Youth, volunteer solidarity and traineeships” at European Commission).

The event pretended to gather several experts in volunteering with different points of view in order to give a view on their experience working during the COVID crisis.

To start with, Maria Ines and Eliska agreed in the many different competences that they have gained working under the crisis, since they enhanced their digital and communication skills, as they had to organize and coordinate online meetings. More specific, Eliska created scout-oriented activities that could be done safely by children at home. In addition, even though the current crisis makes difficult to organize face to face meetings, it is still possible to make contacts with interesting organizations and create links for further collaboration. More specific, thanks to the use of digital resources, Maria Ines and Eliska gained a series of competences that they can take advantage of when the crisis is over.

Afterwards, Anne, who is in charge of global education in the scout program in addition to leading and managing projects, continued with her experience in Finland. When the finish government announced the lockdown measures, scout organizations offered regular scout activities that could be done remotely from home together with other members. The Scout Committee chose the best activities and created activity packages in order to ease scout practices even without being able to go out. One of the advantages of participating in Anne’s trainings was the possibility to make use of validation tools to recognize credits which could be validated in finish universities. According to Anne, youngsters adapt easily to changes, which is reflected in scout voice chat servers in which young scouts met to help each other with the activities and also to play multiplayer scout videogames. As for the next steps, scout organizations are working on a 2021-2026 strategy in order to foresee which skills may be needed in 2040.

Afterwards, Bart gave a view on the local volunteer matching platform “Give a day” and skills training via volunteering, this way mobilizing our society to achieve the sustainable development goals. Hence, through helping those people in need during the COVID crisis, volunteers were also able to develop individual skills that could be reflected via digital Open badges, a new recognition system that helps to share and verify skills and achievements as you earn them.

To conclude with, Floor remarked that even though there are some activities that are best performed face to face, COVID forces us to transform and adapt ourselves to the new situation. As a result, many innovative volunteering projects raised, such as food delivery services to vulnerable people who could not do it for themselves. Hence, this crisis has proofed the key social labor of volunteers in our society and in order to ease the recognition of voluntary work, a new youthpass  was launched.