Supporting long term volunteers

The reality of the humanitarian response to the refugee crisis is that 1000’s of unqualified individuals, equipped with little more than time and empathy have come to suture the wounds left by Europe’s response to the refugee crisis. We cannot undervalue the hours spent packing, sorting, delivering and distributing by those who felt compelled to help. Without them many lives would be much worse off. But there are problems with this ever changing flow of volunteers.

 

Whilst some come for months at time, many understandably have just a matter of weeks or even days to spare. However, in such an environment, you learn fast. People previously working bar jobs become warehouse managers, home cooking enthusiasts become chefs. These skills however are just as quickly lost when volunteers have to return home.

 

The flow of volunteers can also have a damaging impact on the refugees themselves. In an environment with so much instability, the coming and going of volunteers can add to that. Rami Farajpour (Volunteer @ Khora from Iran) says-“ It can be really difficult. Many adults are now avoiding to know anyone. Because I know they will go away.” (edited for clarity). It is also particularly a problem for children. In a recent conversation with a psychologist, our childcare team at Khora was warned of the impact that short term volunteering might have. The psychologist explained that for children, one month presence by a volunteer is a long time and children are always seeking figures of attachment. When a figure of attachment leaves it is felt as a loss and these repeated losses can have a strong impact on a child's wellbeing, particularly when that child may be dealing with the trauma of war.

 

This is why Giving For A better Future will often seek to support long term volunteers to stay and continue their work. Particularly in a community setting such as Khora, where many users will have visited the centre everyday for many months. To support each other, it is important to have familiar faces who have retained the history of the people and the place, and so importantly, the knowledge and skills gained over time.

G4ABF helps Christa,Rebecca and others to remain long-term volunteers by offering accommmodation in a G4ABF flat for long-term volunteers   

G4ABF helps Christa,Rebecca and others to remain long-term volunteers by offering accommmodation in a G4ABF flat for long-term volunteers   

Article by Christa Stengard