Charlotte Toner reports back from the VolinHA Civic Service Volunteer Meeting in Paris.
December 2016, what a beautiful time to be in Paris. We even have the opportunity to visit some of the city’s famous Christmas markets. However, the purpose of the visit was not about Christmas markets and touring but a very special meeting/handover between new and old Civil Service Volunteers (CSV) working on the technical assistance consortium in the Volunteering in Humanitarian Aid (VolinHA) project as part of the EU Aid Volunteers Initiative (EUAVI). This project began in early January involving nine different volunteer sending agencies from across the EU on their explorative journey in the aspiration of becoming a certified organisation that could send EUAVI volunteers in the future. This means now at this time of year, new volunteers have been recruited and the older volunteer’s time on the project will come to a timely close.
The meeting began on a very opportune occasion, linking up with La Guilde in hosting an event on International Volunteers Day. This day was full of workshops under themes of why volunteer?, considering pre-decisions and motivations of volunteering overseas, volunteering in a humanitarian context and interculturalism acceptance and integration during a volunteer placement. This attracted members of the public from various backgrounds, including; staff from various volunteer sending agencies in France, first time volunteers looking to volunteer abroad and experienced volunteers looking for new opportunities within the EUAV initiative. This day was full of fun and brought about a lot of rich conversation around humanitarian work, volunteering and integration and understanding with the host community.
The VolinHA meeting followed this fun filled day between CSV where new volunteers were introduced and older members had space to reflect on their involvement in the past year in the project. The break out, group sessions discussed the next stages of the VolinHA project, analysing what worked well and what needs to be improved upon for 2017 onwards. This cross over was extremely valuable gave a clear insight into the aspirations and objectives for the next stages of the VolinHA project.
The following day the newer volunteers participated in a First Aid course. This is a mandatory element for the new volunteers as part of the CSV scheme. The Protection Civile de Paris team in Paris, provided theoretical and practical experience and useful insights into first response. This upskilling and training was very useful and gave the new volunteers an opportunity to get to know each other and have further discussion and reflection about the VolinHA project in EUAVI and the directions into the future.
Watch this space for more regular updates/articles from the CSV volunteers on the VolinHA project!