Volunteer is not a slave

volunteer, bratislava, volunteering, i want help

A goodie who unselfishly does everything what is he asked for. He works overtime and for free. Simply an angel, who is always there for everyone. Do you think this is how volunteering works? That’s a mistake. Volunteer has his duties but also rights.

To say that one is a volunteer his or her work has to fulfil three criteria: First, the work is conducted for free, i.e. we do not get any financial provision for it (not even a symbolic one). Secondly, we conduct it freely based on our free will and decision. We cannot be forced to do it and we are conducting it in our free time – after work, school or during weekends. Thirdly, we conduct it for the benefit of others (people, organisations, societies, nature, animals).

You can volunteer via different organisations or you can help individuals outside your family. We do not have to be afraid that our good heart and willingness to help will be misused. We conclude an agreement with an organisation orally or we can conclude a written agreement.

Rights of a volunteer

Everything starts with an interview. The organisation for which we decide to work should give us full information on its activities. We should know exactly what its aim and mission is. At the same time, they should inform us what our work will be about and how much time we should devote to this work. If we do not like our potential activity or we do not see ourselves in this work we have the right to refuse the offer. On the other hand, the volunteer could be rejected also by the organisation. If we agree on a cooperation we have a right to have regular contact with a person who is assigning us tasks. Mostly this is the volunteers´ coordinator. We have also the right to get relevant training. No one was born wise and each company has different procedures. That is why the initial training is inevitable and it is also a way how to avoid misunderstanding in the future. The level and length of the training depends on the particular volunteering activity. Sometimes it takes one hour other time it takes the whole weekend. We also have a right to so called intervision, i.e. meeting with the volunteers´ coordinator with who we can talk about our feelings, experiences, problems and successes within our volunteering work.

We have a right to feedback and moral appraisal. We need to know whether our effort has any sense or expected result. We have also right to training on safety and health protection at work. If for whatever reason we will be not happy with our volunteering work volunteers´ coordinator with whom we can solve the situation is at our disposal. If we decide to conclude the work with the organisation but we still want to volunteer we can address local voluntary centre. That will help us to find new volunteering opportunities. The cooperation can be also concluded by the organisation itself.

Duties of a volunteer

Not only us but also an organisation to which we help has its rights. If we agreed on a voluntary work it is our duty to fulfil the set tasks. We should be responsible and not to misuse the trust we got from people in the organisation. Our duty is also to ask for help if we need it while volunteering. It is better to ask in the beginning and admit that we do not understand something as to fix unnecessary mistakes in a later stage. Team spirit is a must as well as to take into consideration our time and health limits. One person will not safe the world that is why we have to have in mind also our free time and rest as a mean to gain new strength. Four hours per week devoted to volunteering are more than enough. We cannot forget that once we volunteer for an organisation we also represent it. It is thus advised to choose such an organisation or NGO with the aim of which we can identify ourselves. We are involved in the creation of its good name on which the organisation is working for a long time. Not to say we have to respect the timeframe and deadlines. If this organisation is doing a so-called supervision we are obliged to take part. This concerns a meeting with a certified supervisor, with whom we can discuss on how we can help ourselves and the clients to avoid various difficult situations. This is also how we avoid burn-out.

Before we start

If we wish to selflessly help others or we want to gain new experiences via volunteering lets answer few questions right at the beginning. We should know why we want to volunteer and what do we expect. We have to clarify if we really have time to volunteer and how much time we actually want to devote to volunteering if we prefer long -term or short-term volunteering or a one-time activity. It is also good to know in which area we would like to help whether it concerns help with children, seniors or you prefer a manual work or help in administration. Or you can come to our MEETING WITH VOLUNTEERING, which we organise each month.

There are thousands of possibilities. All it takes is to start like our volunteers did and they still continue in their work.

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Our many thanks in advance.

BDC Team

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