Celebrated every year on 5 December, International Volunteer Day is a day dedicated to shining the spotlight on volunteers around the world and the contributions they make to drive positive change.
In the field of humanitarian aid and civil protection, volunteers are a valued asset allowing non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other actors on the ground to do more to help those in need of assistance.
With the EU Aid Volunteers initiative, the EU offers European citizens the opportunity to express their solidarity by providing practical support to humanitarian aid projects outside the EU and contributing to strengthening resilience and capacity-building in disaster-affected communities.
During the EU Aid Volunteers pilot phase, nearly 300 volunteers from across Europe participated in humanitarian aid and civil protection projects around the world. This year, the initiative has officially rolled out and will see the first volunteers deploy for their projects before the end of the year.
Ranging from junior experts seeking to gain experience in the humanitarian sector, to senior experts with over five years of experience, EU Aid Volunteers are trained and well prepared to contribute to humanitarian projects with their specific skills and knowledge.
Take a look at what drives the volunteers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts today, where prospective volunteers share their motivations for volunteering, while taking part in the specially designed EU Aid Volunteers training.
On Wednesday 7 December, the EU will also launch the European Solidarity Corps, an opportunity for young people to volunteer their help where it is needed most, to respond to crisis situations in the EU.
EU Aid Volunteers must be over 18 years of age and be citizens of EU Member States or long-term EU residents. Volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds, from newcomers to experts and will be trained and tested prior to being deployed.
Taking part in the EU Aid Volunteers initiative is an opportunity for organisations to engage skilled voluntary staff in their projects. By matching volunteers’ skills with the needs on the ground, organisations can benefit from targeted assistance.
Organisations wishing to take part in the EU Aid Volunteer initiative as sending or hosting organisations must undergo certification before being eligible to apply for funding for volunteer deployment.
The initiative also supports capacity-building of front-line local staff and volunteers of organisations in countries hit by disasters where the EU Aid Volunteers will work.