The 9th FEAD Network Meeting Highlights

The 9th FEAD Network meeting took place on 01 March in Brussels and discussed issues related to “The role of volunteers in FEAD delivery”. EPA was represented by EPA Ambassador Herminio Correa. During the meeting an interactive workshop on initiating and running a volunteer programme was organised. The suggested programmes took part in a competition and again the EPA representative was on the winning team. You can see the idea described at the end of the article. It will hopefully inspire people to implement it in reality.

Volunteering plays a crucial role in strengthening fundamental European values such as solidarity and community building. About a fifth of European citizens are currently involved in voluntary work, amounting to between 92 and 94 million people aged over 15. Because of diverse traditions and levels of development of voluntary sectors however, the volunteering landscape varies significantly across Europe. Member States such as the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Austria, Luxembourg and Germany consistently report high or very high levels of participation, with up to 57% of their population being involved in voluntary activities. In contrast, Member States such as Poland, Portugal, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Spain report low or relatively low levels of participation in volunteering, at between 9% and 15% of their population.

The estimated economic and social contribution of volunteering also varies greatly across Europe. According to GHK,3 volunteering accounts for between 3 and 5% of the GDP in Austria, the Netherlands and Sweden. In contrast, it accounts for less than 0.1% in Slovakia, Poland and Greece. Regardless of its economic benefits, it is undoubted that volunteering delivers broader social impacts. It reinforces social inclusion and employment, education and training, and fosters civil society and democracy. Through volunteering, citizens contribute to local development, and become active and empowered citizens.

While the level of volunteering has increased across Europe over the past few years, engaging volunteers has become more challenging. Volunteers seem less willing to commit to one organisation for prolonged periods of time and take on decision-making responsibilities. Their aspirations, as part of the new generations of volunteers, tend to mismatch the needs of organisations; it is difficult to match them with adequate organisations, and they tend to spread across an increasingly large number of organisations. Another challenge is the professionalisation of the voluntary sector, whereby volunteers need to perform increasingly demanding tasks requiring higher skill levels, while remaining willing to do so in an unpaid fashion. 

The event, attended by 86 delegates from 22 European Union countries, included updates on the 2018 activities and on the results of the mid-term evaluation of the FEAD Network, a panel discussion, a case study marketplace and an interactive workshop.

The panel discussion was attended by Gabriella Civico from the European Volunteer Centre and Vasiliki Papachristou from Hellenic Red Cross who shared with everyone their perspective on volunteering, along with a sharing her on-the-ground experience.

In the marketplace, 5 very interesting case studies from 5 different countries were simultaneously presented:
1ºThe “Frisk” project: building sustainable partnerships between volunteers and organizations – Doctors of the World – Sweden
2º Effectively meeting volunteers’ training needs – Italian Red Cross
3º Innovative methods for recruiting volunteers – Polish Committee of Social Welfare
4º Successfully recruiting new volunteers for FEAD activities – French Federation of Food Banks
5º Including end recipients as volunteers – Zadar Archdiocesan Caritas – Croatia
At the end of this session, all participants were asked to create and develop a volunteer training campaign.

In 2018 FEAD Network will hold 5 annual meetings, two of which will be devoted to visits to local projects in Denmark/Sweden and Malta.

Interactive workshop: initiating and running a volunteer programme

Through this interactive activity, participants were given the opportunity to work together in groups to create a volunteer programme. The aim was to allow participants to share their own experiences in successful recruitment and engagement strategies, as well as to derive inspiration from the experience of others. 

Participants were split into seven groups, and each team could either choose from two hypothetical FEAD projects or come up with a FEAD project of their own inspiration, based on which they were invited to draw up a volunteer programme. When developing their programme, participants were encouraged to consider a series of non-exhaustive guiding questions under five main dimensions:  
 Mobilisation and recruitment:
 Training:
 Management and retention:
 Resources:

Once again, EPA was part of one of the winning groups with the following project:

Project: “Kitchen rendez-vous”

Many FEAD end recipients do not know how to cook, which can prevent them from making the most of items on offer. The idea behind Kitchen rendez-vous is to recruit volunteer students from vocational schools to organise and lead cooking classes for FEAD recipients. Beyond the pedagogical and social dimension of the cooking classes, sessions would foster cultural exchange, as the recipes taught would be inspired from the culinary traditions of recipients’ home countries. Students would be recruited directly through cookery schools, who would be in charge of selecting them, and agreements would be made with students, schools and professors. Volunteers would receive training on hygiene, safety and pedagogy, but also on intercultural communication, conflict management and psychology. They would have regular briefings and debriefs, during which they could highlight what works well and areas where they might need support.

The team:
Gerd Walter – Institut SOSTRA GmbH
Magali Desautez – Les Restaurants du Coeur
Angela Frigo – Fondazione Banco Alimentare Onlus
Kart Mere – EAPN Estonia NGO
Liga Logina – The Society Integration Foundation

Hermínio Corrêa – European Parents Association

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