A new service for Commission staff on the Give a Day volunteering platform matches your preferences and skills with the volunteering needs of a range of NGOs. Volunteering has never been easier. If you have considered volunteering but didn't know where to start, then read on!
Did you know that there is a new dedicated online space for Commission staff interested in volunteering, where you can sign up for one or more volunteering opportunities with local associations? If not, then we are pleased to present the 'EC Staff Volunteer for a Change' matching service on the Give a Day platform!
Volunteering is a great way to get involved in the wider community, helping others while doing something that motivates you. Through volunteering, you can build up different social networks and get to know a different side of yours or another city. Around 85% of Commission staff working in Brussels are are not Belgian, so the most common question when it comes to volunteering is – 'where do I start?' The new volunteering platform answers this question, presenting a selection of NGOs that are eager to receive a helping hand.
Who can use it?
Inside the Give a Day platform, which is open to everyone, there is a space called 'EC Staff Volunteer for a Change'. This is dedicated to all European Commission staff, active and retired, as well as their family members and Blue Book trainees. Under 16s can take part under their parents' supervision.
When to volunteer?
The requirements for volunteers will vary from one NGO to the next. This includes the timetable for when a volunteer is needed – during the working day, in the evening or at the weekend, a regular commitment or a one off and so on. You can search according to your availability. If you volunteer with three or more colleagues on a work day, you can request one day (or two half days) of special leave to cover your volunteering activity (see Staff Matters), subject to the usual line manager agreement of the absence.
What languages do I need?
The platform currently covers all parts of Belgium. Information is generally available in French and English, while projects in Flanders are generally also available in Dutch. Pay attention to information on the languages used during the activity, or spoken by the beneficiaries, and don't hesitate to check with the NGO contacts.
How does it work?
The first step is to register on the platform (see detailed instructions on how to do this in the guide for volunteers). Once registered, you will receive volunteering offers based on the preferences you listed in your profile. You can also search directly for an activity in the 'volunteering opportunities' section. All you need to do is click on 'I am interested' on the page describing the activity. This will create a pop-up window where you can write a small message to the association, explaining your motivation and availability.
What sort of activities do the NGOs offer?
Helping children with language classes, starting a friendly discussion with senior citizens, using your DYI skills to fix things, helping with administrative tasks, going on a bike ride with someone visually impaired… These are just a few examples of the wide range of volunteering activities currently posted on the platform.
Why these NGOs?
We started with the NGOs we worked with on the three EC Volunteering Weeks, in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and added other NGOs we have had contacts with through various routes over the past few years. We also made a selection of the NGOs already registered on the platform, based on the NGO status, the type and timing of the activities, their adherence to European values and, finally, the absence of religious or political lobbying or commercial activities.
Are there many requests for volunteers?
The number of requests for volunteers has been increasing steadily since the platform went live on 8 March 2021. On April 28 there were 113 associations featured on our space, with 267 requests for volunteers. If you know of, or are involved with, an association that needs volunteers and is not yet registered on the Give a Day platform, please let us know (see contact details at the end). This includes any of the Commission's in-house associations. Your help in proposing new NGOs will be invaluable in improving our space and including as many people as possible in this initiative!
Volunteering with a disability?
We want to offer an inclusive experience, including for people with a disability. Many of the online activities are suitable for colleagues with reduced mobility and the Give a Day team are keen to develop volunteering opportunities for people who are differently abled, so we would welcome your ideas. The service should also be accessible to people with a visual impairment, using assistive technology. Any user feedback is more than welcome.
The COVID-19 effect
The socio-economic impact of COVID 19 left more people in a precarious situation just as NGOs who traditionally provide a safety net were having to suspend operations. However, many NGOs rose to the challenge and reorganized themselves and many of the volunteering opportunities will be online or otherwise COVID-proofed. Take care of yourselves as well as others!
Volunteering platform: EC Staff Volunteer for a Change on Give a Day
Follow the instructions in the guide for volunteers
Read the article on Commission en Direct
Feedback and comments to: EC-STAFF-VOLUNTEERING@ec.europa.eu
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