Volunteering in times of coronavirus

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  • Numerous volunteer initiatives have been launched to support the most vulnerable people all over Europe.
    Numerous volunteer initiatives have been launched to support the most vulnerable people all over Europe. Source: Flickr.

Citizens all across Europe are volunteering to support vulnerable people and each other during this crisis period. The European Volunteer Centre has compiled some examples.

This pandemic has shown the significant role of volunteering and volunteer organisations during the crisis period. Numerous volunteer initiatives have been launched to support the most vulnerable people all over Europe.

In the words of Lejla Sehic Relic, CEV President, “this response demonstrates the importance of a vibrant and responsive civil society in reaffirming the spirit of a resilient and caring community”.

The European Volunteer Centre (CEV) has created a document with some examples of how volunteers and volunteer organisations are responding to this health crisis.

Campaigns based in Hashtags coordination

  • Flanders is helping - #Vlaanderenhelpt (Belgium). An initiative launched by government. It believes that people with good ideas are numerous and that can inspire each other and that by sharing such ideas people will be keeping spirits up and ensuring Flanders shows its warmest side.
  • For the good - #ЗАДОБРОТО  (Bulgaria). This campaign is raising funds and spending them immediately in urgent manner for covering urgent needs of the hospital in Sofia and in the country.
  • I’m Helping Alzira - #JoajudeAlzira (Spain). A local initiative that connects citizens, businesses and associations to voluntarily help people buying groceries, encouraging them with a message, supporting local businesses or just suggesting new ways to help.

 Citizen-led initiatives

  • Solidarity Masks (Belgium). A group of women and undocumented migrant mothers that opened a small sewing workshop 4 years ago started to sew facemasks for their communities. In only 24 hours, they managed to do more than 100 facemasks.
  • People for people (Croatia). Citizens are helping their neighbours who are in vulnerable situations, shopping for them and making sure everyone receives the help they need.
  • Windows concerts for nursing home residents (Denmark). Aarhus musicians, bands and associations volunteer to play window concerts outside the city's nursing homes to cheer up their residents isolated from family and friends.
  • One Meter from you (Italy).  Sicilian Medicine course students voluntarily take part in basic hospital screening activities to help the medical team to better focus on the critical cases reaching the hospitals. These tasks are carried out under the maximum safety for both students and those accessing the hospitals.

Online matching

  • Kogukondaitab (Estonia). A few people from various start-ups came together for a whole weekend hackathon to think about a new way to help those in need throughout the COVID19 pandemic. The platform connects people in search of help and those that can provide it, from a friendly chat on the phone with someone that feels lonely to a young person helping the elderly with the shopping and delivering it to their doorstep.
  • Coronahelpers (UK). They're working with local groups and organisations to coordinate offers of support. This will help make sure everyone receives the help they need.
  • Volunteering Network for stranded danes (Denmark). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark established an online network between Danish NGOs and stranded Danish travellers outside the country who risk being expelled from hotels, to provide them with practical assistance by finding them temporary accommodation, or giving them advice.

Organisations adapting

  • Padova we are here (Italy). Three different organisations have come together to coordinate all social support actions aiming to enhance, support and fortify existing associations and volunteer commitments by ensuring that everyone can continue to operate safely and in view to protect everyone's health.
  • Voisins solidaires (France). The main aim is to create and reinforce bonds among the neighbours. During this COVID-19 crisis, they have created an initiative to mobilise people to help their elderly or handicapped neighbours. They made a free kit in order to help neighbours groups to better organise themselves.
  • Volunteer groups help vulnerable people (Portugal). Different associations of Guimarães and its region are creating volunteer groups to help more vulnerable people with the important tasks like going to the supermarket or to the pharmacy to buy medicines, in order to avoid them to leave from home.
  • Code for Romania (Romania). Volunteers are tackling misinformation and providing real, complete and truthful information regarding COVID19 to the citizens. Information is key to tackle any crisis.

Cross sector collaboration

  • Don’t be afraid, I’m here (Greece). The Greek Government launches a call for skilled volunteers aimed at anyone who can offer their services such as: doctors, nurses, paramedics, psychologists, students, & retired health scientists. Also, who can offer administrative, technical or support to the health system regardless of their specialisation.
  • City of Paris (France). Together with NGOs, Parishes and different companies developed several initiatives to deal with this crisis situation, such as the opening of new places of shelter and specialised accommodation centres, the reinforcement of health structures, food aid, and the launch of a call for volunteers to assist with delivery.
  • One Stop Shop (Croatia). The Croatian Ministry of Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy are directing all willing volunteers to the regional volunteer centres, members Croatian Volunteer Development Centre in order to ensure the best possible coordination and efficient use of precious resources at this challenging time.

Advice and support

  • Volunteer Ireland (Ireland). Prioritising recruitment, support and promotion of volunteer roles related to the COVID-19 response; Communicating with local volunteers and organisations; Providing advice and guidance on volunteering safely when dealing with vulnerable members of the public.
  • Estonian Village Movement (Estonia). New website providing summary information on volunteering, how to call for help from volunteers and how to offer help as a volunteer.
  • Essen Viral (Germany). Volunteers in Essen created this webpage to provide local people with up to date and reliable information and advice about different aspects of daily life including volunteering or requesting volunteer help.

You can find out more examples on the document ‘Volunteers In Solidarity Covid-19’.

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