How did the project come about?
Led by our German partner from ‘Gemeinsam leben und lernen in Europa e. V’ who clearly identified the need for research and action to confront these issues, seven other partners quickly came forward to be involved in what we all regard as a most valuable project.
All partners come from NGOs which work with volunteers across Europe. All wished to see the skills developed by volunteers valued more highly by the business world and we formed a partnership to deliver this.
CSV from the UK had worked successfully in the past with other members of the partnership and holds a strong belief in the value of volunteering as an important pathway to employment.
Društvo Kultlab Celje from Slovenia values the opportunity to achieve higher recognition of volunteering in the country and gain formal acknowledgment for professional experiences gained through volunteering.
For CARDO in Slovakia, the participation in the project was the perfect way of exchanging information and experiences from other European countries. The organisation hopes that the European reference letter can help volunteers to find a job. CARDO would like to see that volunteer experiences have the same value as work experiences. The NGO tries to link the business world with volunteering through its events such as the Business Brunch.
In the Czech Republic the inspiration for joining the project was the history of previous cooperation through Hestia under V-Learn, also Hestia’s involvement in the work on recognition of volunteering effort in the Czech Republic.
Our partner from the Malta Health Network brought personal experience of not having any references from volunteering despite being a volunteer for many years. In MHN and other NGOs there are only volunteers, and whilst appreciated there is a need to recognise this contribution more formally.
Our Romanian partner had experience of working successfully with other European projects. The Cluj-Napoca Volunteer Centre has experience of working with many volunteers and referencing them, it has also worked on the topic at national level, which started during European Year of Volunteering 2011. As a result of this, a tool was developed to evaluate competences gained through volunteering and put them in the form of a formal certificate. This will now be included in the Romanian national law on volunteering.
Tulip Foundation has extensive experience with voluntary projects and volunteers. The Foundation is aware that volunteers develop their capacities and skills many of which are directly relevant and applicable in their professional life as well. It believes that volunteering is an opportunity for employment. Social and professional experiences gained by volunteers during trainings and voluntary work are valuable resource for the volunteers themselves, for the business and for the society. Tulip Foundation promotes recognition for volunteers and their contribution to the society.
Who are we? Eight partners from different volunteer Non Government Organizations, (NGOs) across Europe started working together in 2012 within the framework of a Grundtvig learning partnership. This partnership is a framework for small-scale co-operation activities between organisations working in the field of adult education in the broadest sense.
Within this learning partnership partners exchanged their experience on the topic "Valuing and using skills development through volunteering as a pathway into employment." The overall goal of this partnership is to develop a guideline for volunteer organisations on "How to write references for your volunteers to improve their employability"
The Grundtvig project team of "References" consists of NGOs from eight European Countries, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Malta, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, United Kingdom. They all work with volunteers in their organisations and recognise value of volunteers not only to their organisation but to society as well.
Here find out more about the individual organisations:
"Gemeinsam leben und lernen in Europa e. V." (GLL)
The NGO "Gemeinsam leben und lernen in Europa e.V." (GLL) is a private non-profit network organisation in the region of eastern Bavaria, with its head office in Passau. The main emphasis of GLLs work is to encourage engagement for others and to increase a sustainable commitment to society. GLL initiates cooperation, activities and projects among the different individuals, organisations and communities who are all working to eliminate discrimination and inequality, wherever it appears. Therefore the members of the organisation are local communities, districts, social organisations, private companies, decision makers and citizens.
The promotion of equal opportunities for everyone is combated by projects and mainstreaming activities in the field of
a) promotion of lifelong learning,
b) fighting discrimination and racism by promoting tolerance and diversity,
c) advancement of volunteer work within the community,
d) the support of disadvantaged target groups,
e) educational work,
f) gender mainstreaming activities, and
g) innovative form of mainstreaming activities.
GLL promotes mutual understanding and learning of each other as well as cooperation between all age groups as well as the people in Europe.
Our target groups are migrants, socially disadvantaged people, older people, less-qualified workers, unemployed, migrants, as well as immigrants, women, families, disabled people or people with health restrictions, because they are particularly affected by discrimination and inequality. GLLs goal is to promote their integration into society by means of the activities and measures of their association and active involvement of the various target groups.
As an expert in the field of volunteer work, GLL can provide the partnership with some innovative measures for promoting and supporting volunteer work within the community. GLL runs an online platform on volunteer workplaces, provides training as well as advice and support services for volunteers. Moreover, GLL supports other NGOs recruiting new volunteers, organises an annual volunteer fair or information sessions on volunteering, and initiated many volunteer projects, e.g. an international womens’ club with an annual programme of activities, training programmes for migrants to become intercultural trainers as well as intercultural workshops for children run by migrants, film festivals or intercultural film sessions. Volunteers run and implement most of our projects; a lot of them are unemployed or disadvantaged in some ways.
Founded in 1962, CSV is the UK’s leading volunteering and training charity. Every year, CSV involves over 150,000 volunteers in high quality opportunities that enrich lives and tackle real need. Between them, they help transform the lives of over one million people across the UK. CSV trains over 20,000 young people and adults each year, helping them build the skills and confidence they need to progress to further education or employment or to set up in business. They are dedicated to developing the skills and capacity of the voluntary sector and share over 45 years of experience and expertise through their professional training and consultancy services. CSV's vision is of a society where everyone can participate to build healthy, enterprising, inclusive communities.
Additionally CSV holds the Secretariat for Volonteurope, the Europe-wide network of volunteer involving organisations and individual volunteers. Through the annual Volonteurope Conference, they bring together volunteers, voluntary sector practitioners, and representatives from the private and public sectors and national and European governments and institutions. The conference takes place in a different European city every year, offering a series of workshops, presentations and round table discussions and the chance to network and share thought with volunteers, volunteer organisers, trainers, academics, sponsors, public officials and policy makers from across Europe.
CSV were also cofounding members of the Alliance of European NGOs for the Campaign for the European Year of Volunteering in 2011 (EYV11) and the European Year of Citizens (EYC 2013) Alliance.
Association of Program Five P in the Czech Republic
Civic association "Association of Program Five P in the Czech Republic" (founded 2001 in Kromeriz) is an umbrella organisation and a member of Big Brothers Big Sisters International (BBBSI). It supports the regional centres. Furthermore, it is partner of domestic and foreign organisations with a similar focus. It was founded as a coalition of managers, coordinators, supervisors, volunteers and other participants and collaborators of the Program Five P (further “Program 5P”) in order to support implementation of the Program 5P in the Czech Republic.
Program 5P (Assistance, Friendship, Support, Care and Prevention) is a volunteer program designed for children aged 6-15 years. It focuses on solving social and communication difficulties of children and works on the base of a friendly relationship between one child and one adult volunteer.
The program is known worldwide under the name Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS), which has originated in the USA already in 1902. It has long tradition also in Western Europe and in other countries.
Open Society Fund and civic associations HESTIA transferred this program to the Czech Republic in 1996 and adapted it to the local conditions. Name and logo of the Program 5P are registered at the Industrial Property Office of the CR as a trademark. The number of regional centres of Program 5P has grown to a total of 21 in 2011.
In addition, international comparative research has been carried out, focused on mentoring for children and youth in the program Big Brothers Big Sisters from 2010 until now. The leaders of the research project are the UNESCO Chair for Children, Youth and Civic Engagement, Child & Family Research Centre, School of Political Science and Sociology, Science Engineering & Technology Building, National University of Ireland, Galway.
During autumn 2011, Association realized project 15 Years of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentoring Programme in the Czech Republic (The Living Community of Volunteers as a Part of the Democratic Europe) funded by U.S. Embassy Prague. Programme BBBS was one of the first volunteering programmes founded with the help of the Open Society Found that has helped to rehabilitate the concept of volunteerism after communist regime until nowadays.
Thanks to sophisticated methodology and 15 years of experience collected from 21 centres in the Czech Republic, Program 5P became an excellent example of good practice in volunteer management in the country.
Tulip Foundation has the mission to encourage social responsibility in Bulgarian society by enhancing cooperation among civil society, the corporate sector, national and local authorities to improve the quality of life and developmental opportunities for the people by:
Raising funds for social investment from individual donors, the business sector and public and private sources
Providing financial and technical support to civil society organisations addressing social needs of the community at a national level
Serving as a professional vehicle and provide expert advice, consultancy, assessment, monitoring and evaluation of projects and programmes
Promoting transparency, accountability and professionalism to comply with the highest ethical standards
Working in partnership with other civil and business organisations at national or local level for greater social responsibility and sustainability of the civil sector in Bulgaria
Tulip Foundation provides grants, training and networking opportunities for civil organisations as well as forums for exchange and cooperation with the business.
Various programmes of the foundation bring together organisations and people that are willing to contribute to the society. Tulip foundation is leading a few national volunteer campaigns and is systematically working for encouraging volunteering and public recognition of the volunteers in various ways including annual national competition “Volunteer initiative of the Year”. We initiated a draft law on volunteering in Bulgaria – to be adopted by the Parliament in the next months and took active part in the drafting along with the other members of the national working group at Ministry of culture. For some years now the Tulip Foundation runs the Marketplace programme which is based on the concept of cooperation between profit and non-profit organisations (companies and NGOs) in the form of exchange of goods, materials, services and voluntary work.
DRUSTVO KULTLAB CELJE
The purpose of the Society is to group, encourage and organise activities in the fields of social integration, volunteering, culture, elder and youth, education and the transmission of the cultural, moral and ethical values.
In that matter Society carries out the following activities:
humanitarian and social activities;
research and development;
recreational, cultural and sporting activities for the elderly, youth and children;
publishing books and reproduction of recorded media;
the implementation of the activities for the purposes of promotion and development of volunteering activities and active citizenship activities;
researching, alerting and reporting on possible violations of human rights;
artistic creation and reproduction etc.
The Society’s main activities are in the field of social integration and culture; in this context the organisation offers assistance to elders (companion for the elderly on visits to see a doctor and offices, advice and assistance in the case of certain legal and administrative procedures, engaging in volunteer work), aid to unemployed and to individuals with low incomes (project involvement in contract or project work, involvement in voluntary activities), work and cooperation with drug addicts persons (preventive activities/education at the primary and secondary schools, activities against stigmatisation, engaging in voluntary activities), the creation and edition of books to individuals who are because of lack of finance resources not capable to publish their work, design and manufacture of photographic and video presentation, etc.
Noteworthy is also our active involvement in the national network to combat poverty and social exclusion (European Anti Poverty Network, Slovenia) and the national organisation for the fight against hunger, waste and lack of food (SIBAHE - Slovenian foodbank). Both of the national organisations are also members of wider European and world networks (EAPN and FEBA), whose role is to help and promote the integration of disadvantaged groups and the creation of better conditions for their lives.
All of the activities are mainly based on voluntary work so we are quite experienced in that field; unfortunately in our country voluntary work has no significant meaning for employees in a way to recognise such work as (valid or invalid) reference for getting job easier. Because of that our interest in this project is very high as we wish to draw attention on that problem and maybe achieve some positive changes in this direction.
Malta Health Network
The Malta Health Network (MHN) was set up in 2007 with the aim of representing in Malta, in the EU and internationally, the interests of patients and the health of the community, developing better coordination, collaboration and capacity building through exchange of best practice among Health Non Governmental (NGO) not for profit’ (NPO) Organization and Patient Representation Groups (PRGs). MHN is independent of the Government of Malta and of any political party or organisation.
The Network currently started of with 20 founder member organisations. It supports initiatives to protect patients’ health and is active in promoting The European Charter of Patients’ Rights. MHN participates in consultation sessions related to health and patient issues, has regular communication with local health Authorities and gives a voice to member organisations as need arises.
MHN is a registered NGO with the Commissioner of NGOs and thus is a recognised legal entity in Malta with all the related rights and obligations including annual submission of activity report and financial report. The MHN is a full member of the European Patients’ Forum (EPF) where it currently is also represented on the board and on the Policy advisory group. Through EPF, MHN has had a regular collaboration with Active Citizenship Network (ACN) primary in the promotion of Patients’ rights and Patients’ rights Day. MHN is also affiliated in the European Public Health Alliance, (EPHA).
The Board of MHN is composed of nine representatives from different organisations who work on voluntary basis. At present, MHN has over thirty organisations on its members list.
We raise awareness on patients’ rights in particular targeting those who are socially excluded and persons with disability. We also organise seminars and/or conferences to our members who are in their great majority volunteers besides bringing to the attention of authorities any grievances brought up by patients when the needs arise. The most recent activity was the cross border directive which was of great interest to our members.
Centrul de Voluntariat Cluj-Napoca
The Cluj-Napoca Volunteer Centre (CVCN) was legally established as a self-sufficient organization in December 2004. Due to this reason the organization's history is more extensive than the one gained from its official registration.
*The Mission* of the Cluj-Napoca Volunteer Centre is to develop volunteering as a meansof involving citizens in solving out the problems of the Cluj-Napoca community.
*The values* that are stand the basis of our activity include: respecting the rights of each person without discrimination, promoting the active involvement in the community, trust in the potential of self-determination of each person, trust in the community's capacity to self-develop through the implication of its members.
*Our Objectives* aim at: increasing the numbers of volunteers in public institutions and non-governmental organizations from Cluj-Napoca, increasing the degree of involvement by Cluj's citizens in the community, increasing the innovation in the volunteering field (pilot programs of volunteering), increasing the volunteers visibility amongst the community's members.
CVCN consistently offers services to the local community, divided by the beneficiary's category: volunteers, organizations/institutions which work or wish to work with volunteers, business actors and Cluj's community in its entirety.
For volunteers we offer:
Organizingorientation sessions in the field of volunteering: volunteering rights and responsibilities, volunteering law, work instruments (volunteering contract, activity sheet etc)
Organizing tutoring session focused on developing the volunteers' professional abilities
Hosting international volunteers for periods of 2-12 months in EVS stages (European Voluntary Service)
Sending Romanian volunteers in EVS stages
Organizing campaigns and events that promote volunteering and of appreciation for the volunteers' work;
Recruitment and recommendation of volunteers for organizations and institutions -- a number of over 100 organizations and public institutions from our city rely on our recruitment services (annually we recommend approximately 450 volunteers).
Offering consultancy to organizations/institutions from Cluj-Napoca in elaborating volunteering strategies that are individualized for each organization;
Instructing and supervising the volunteer managers from other organizations and institutes on volunteer management.
Development of volunteering programs for the local community (in partnership with other organizations).
For the community:
Organizing concrete actions, volunteering activities for the community's benefit
Promotional campaigns on the concept and practice of volunteering at a local, national, international level.
Developing of volunteer projects in partnership with firms and institutions which wish to encourage their own employees to get involved as volunteers.
CVCN runs annually local, national and international projects. CVCN is a member of VOLUM Federation -- Federation of organizations that support the development of volunteering in Romania but also in the National Network of Volunteering Centers from Romania, side by side with 14 other volunteering centers from Romania.
In addition, CVCN has had an important contribution to the Ethic code of volunteer involving organizations, initiated during the European Year of Volunteering 2011.
CVCN's approach to volunteer management is based on a theoretical model build on 9 steps of management:preparation of the organization for involving volunteers, recruitment of volunteers, selection of volunteers, orientation and training of volunteers, supervision of volunteers, motivation of volunteers, recognition of the volunteers' work and evaluation.
This theoretical approach is transferred into practice in all the projects and programs we are implementing. At the same time, CVCN has an experience of more than 450 hours of training on the topic of volunteer management.
CVCN was declared 3 years in a row (2011-2013), "Volunteering Center of the Year" in the National Volunteer Gala, for activities and projects carried out in the field of volunteering. The most recent award of CVCN is the "Prize for excellency in the category of European Voluntary Service" offered by ANPCDEFP in March 2014 for 7 years of activity in the field. This prize reflects our activity in the frame of the European mobility for youth: CVCN implemented 11 EVS projects since 2010 (4 of them being considered good practice projects by the ANPCDEFP), has hosted a number of 60 EVS volunteers in the period of 2010-2014 and has sent 62 young Romanians in international projects abroad.
CARDO National Voluntary Centre
CARDO is a civic association with the mission to develop volunteering in Slovakia and abroad. The organisation manages the virtual volunteer centre (www.dobrovolnictvo.sk). Furthermore, it organises the Volunteer Days trying to engage people of all ages into volunteer activities and also appreciates volunteer’s work by organizing the ceremony Annual Bratislava Volunteers. Since 2008, we have been active in advocacy and cooperation with other government stakeholders in the preparation of the legal Act on Volunteering which was approved and effective since December 2011.
Contact details and websites
For the last couple of months, I've been volunteering with people with disability and throughout this time, this provided me several opportunities to gain more experience in this field. I came to understand and appreciate better the needs and difficulties that people with disability encounter in their daily life. The delight that one feels when volunteering, instils a yet greater motivation in the heart of the volunteer to keep on making a difference in the life of other people. I can say that voluntary work is a life changing experience because it aided me to solidify further my values and beliefs about life. For all these reasons, I believe that voluntary work is not only beneficial to the ones who receive it, but also to the altruistic people who willingly provide a helping hand.
Samuel Curmi, Malta
This website has been produced with the financial support of the European Union within the lifelong learning programme.