To strengthen the knowledge of volunteer management of European Caritas organisations was the goal of the fifth TEACH workshop last week in Vienna.
The overarching topic of this workshop was the EU Aid Volunteer (EUAV) scheme, a programme funded by the European Commission to deploy volunteers to humanitarian projects in third counties. Caritas Austria and Trócaire (Caritas Ireland) are already sending volunteers around the world and shared their experiences with the certification process and the management of EUAV grants.
During the workshop, the participants went through the steps needed to establish an adequate volunteer management system, including the necessary tools such as procedures, documents, legal and financial requirements. Very practical questions were addressed: How do you select the volunteers? How do you prepare them before deployment? How do you accompany them remotely and provide support? What competences should a volunteer coordinator have?
As some participating organisations already engage with volunteers in their respective countries, the similarities and differences between volunteer management on a national and an international scale were the topic of a debate.
Finally, the group visited volunteer projects of Caritas Vienna, including the Grätzeleltern, which provide opportunities for international volunteers to stay active in their communities after the end of their deployment.
The workshop, on 4-5 December, was organised by Caritas Austria and included participants from Caritas Czech Republic, Caritas Europa, Caritas Ireland (Trócaire), Caritas England and Wales (CAFOD), Caritas Poland, Caritas Romania and Caritas Slovakia, among others.
Peer exchange and capacity building will continue after this workshop. Several Caritas organisations are considering going through the EUAV certification process. The idea of a future EUAV consortium is definitely on the table!