A webinar was organized by the CEV – European Volunteer Center on how volunteer programs were implemented in different countries of Europe and what challenges volunteers and volunteer organizers encountered when organizing volunteer activities in crisis situations.
The webinar featured examples of their countries by Ilaria Ferraro from Padua (European Volunteer Capital 2020), Lucas Heimes from Berlin (European Volunteer Capital 2021), Nina Arwitz from IVE – Volunter Ireland and Ana Viltrop from Kondukant – Estonian Village Movement. The webinar was closed by Lejla Šehić Relić, president of the European Volunteer Center. Representatives of volunteer organizations highlighted three important points in meeting the pandemic, namely the urgent reorganization of all activities, including volunteering, planning and introduction of new ways of working, and joint contribution to emergency services and the community. Everything is really focused on the needs of the people, so volunteer activities are also aimed at making life easier for citizens through psychosocial and humanitarian assistance. It is necessary to connect with the government and local authorities, but also to network with other profit and non-profit organizations, which was not a problem in these countries. Ilaria pointed out that over 6,000 volunteers volunteered in Padua who were willing to help in some way, but it was not possible to manage all volunteers due to a lack of protective equipment and a lack of volunteer coordinators. In addition to online volunteering, donations were collected for families in the form of food and IT equipment needed by children for teaching activities. In Germany, refugees in helping translate for medical purposes have a special place in volunteering, and in the future Germany will invest more in activities aimed at reducing discrimination. In all countries, volunteers have greatly assisted in sharing information with citizens, creating promotional materials and distributing them through various online tools. Ana from Estonia added that they have created guides for volunteers and all those who need help and have encouraged corporate volunteering because of the need for specific professions and skills.
Lejla Šehić Relić, president of the European Volunteer Center concluded that together we need to develop new volunteer strategies and invest in the future in order to have a quality volunteer system.