Volunteering as a tool for inclusion
The overall objective of this project was to increase the social inclusion of disadvantaged and marginalized groups trough volunteering in partner countries and to share already existing experience/practices/tools in the field.
All involved partners were and still are active in the field of volunteering – providing services to volunteer involving organizations but also working with volunteers. Even though volunteering has a large potential for promoting inclusion of marginalized and vulnerable groups into society, it`s rarely fully used. Volunteer involving organizations are often afraid to cooperate with volunteers with some disability or coming from a marginalized group because they are not sure whether they would be able to coordinate them well. Some organizations are afraid to work with senior volunteers and focus their recruitment only on young even though seniors can be often a great source of knowledge, skills, help and support. We believed a set of basic rules and best practices could help volunteer coordinators in involved partner countries to be more open to these volunteers and provide them with opportunity for further development the volunteering offers.
As many partners involved into this project are members of the European Volunteer Centre (CEV), this information and experience was shared through CEV newsletter and symposium also with other volunteering centres in EU.
In this partnership we:
• became aware of elements necessary for inclusion of marginalized group into volunteering
• explored existing methods and models used in partner countries
• found common but also diverse views, points, and strategies
• collected all discussed issues into two comprehensive materials (good exmples and recommendations for volunteer coordinators) that was presented to other CEV (European Centre of Volunteering) members
Social Inclusion is a process, which assists people to participate fully in life from an economic, social and cultural perspective. The idea is that every member of society no matter their background or situation should be able to participate in the community and society and be encouraged to contribute to social and cultural life.
We believe that volunteering can play a big role in social inclusion. Volunteering is open to all people, of all backgrounds and capabilities. Volunteering allows people to give back and feel empowered, while also meeting new people and developing new skills.
European Project on Social Inclusion and Volunteering
In 2013, Volunteer Ireland and Dublin City Volunteer Centre took part in a (Gruntvig) Erasmus+ European project – Volunteering as a tool for inclusion (VTI). The project involved volunteer centres and volunteer-involving organisations from eight European countries implementing a series of initiatives designed to improve social inclusion.
The project took place between August 2013 and July 2015 with the aim to share experience among partner countries on how to involve people from vulnerable groups into volunteering and to set up a framework for cooperation with different groups of vulnerable volunteers, including people with disabilities, unemployed people, older people, people from socially disadvantaged backgrounds and other groups such as migrants, minority groups, etc.
As a result of the project, two documents have been created:
A toolkit on Inclusive Volunteering Recommendations for Volunteer Coordinators on How to Develop a More Inclusive Volunteer Programme and a collection of good practice examples Volunteering as a Tool for Inclusion – Good Examples that tell the stories of both volunteers and organisations that run socially inclusive programmes in all the project partner countries. Both documents aim to encourage volunteer-involving organisations to embrace social inclusion and endeavour to answer potential questions of organisations that will decide to open their doors to diversity.
There are a range of guides available from volunteering organisations to help both volunteers and volunteer-involving organisations to support social inclusion. Feel free to download the below guide.