New-comers need contacts to local people to be able to integrate – no one integrates themselves to employment office or social security system. Here volunteers play a huge role. Volunteers are the representatives of the community and the way of life. In Varberg conference, Josefin Heed from Hela Sverige ska Leva -organization gave us something to think about concerning volunteers. European Rural Parliament has made a survey about volunteer work in integration. As a result, we got a picture about the obstacles and solutions of volunteer work.
When someone starts a volunteer work, first they need to feel they are doing something meaningful and that they have the ability to contribute. This feeling of meaning and competence creates the inner motivation, which are essential for volunteering.
One motivation for volunteering is a possibility to get involved; to be part of a community, to get support and acceptance from others. This puts pressure to the volunteer organisation or community: can they offer this relatedness for volunteers?
Volunteering includes the thought of self -determination. Volunteering is one’s own choice resulted by the inner motivation. No community or organization can force people to volunteer, no matter how important work they have. A motivated volunteer also needs to have an influence on the work done; this for example ensures their feeling of competence.
Volunteer work becomes easily a real work without a pay. There is so much to do and one person “can never do enough”. This situation overloads a volunteer, and if the community doesn’t offer a right kind of support, the volunteer probably leaves the community.
What then is a “right kind of support” a volunteer needs? After the Varberg conference a group of volunteers discussed this. They pointed out two issues: Guidance and self-determination. Guidance includes introduction, training and professional guidance during volunteering. With a possibility to influence the hours and content of work, this creates safe circumstances for volunteering. Guidance also helps to create a “community feeling” among volunteers and paid workers.
Take good care of your volunteers ❤