Solidarity as a word has been used to guide the content and essence of projects towards a new era of society. Solidarity has been one of the reasons Europe has to know – despite the difficulties – a long period of peace and growth.
This UNITY needs to be kept and nourished. It needs to be fed and cultivated. It is learned, but mostly it is lived. Throughout the volunteering projects, we have implemented as an organisation the feeling of creating common interests, aiming to common objectives but stressing for higher standards has been our aim. Our projects, although applied for various subjects or themes had a common axis – Team building and quality results concerning personal development. This was achieved through persistence for quality volunteer management.
Volunteers have the chance to express their commitment to the benefit of communities while acquiring useful experience, skills, and competences for their personal, educational, social, civic and professional development, thereby improving their employability. Based on this philosophy our organisation, despite the difficulties of implementing volunteering projects has proven the last years since 2012 that it can be committed to specific targets and objectives. Its list of activities, although applied as individual applications had all in ming specific objectives:
Short term objectives:
- Building on past gained expertise and experience: we intend to grasp the opportunity given by the Volunteering partnership application to make use of the gained experience by implementing volunteering projects for the last 4 years in Cyprus. Either long term projects or short term EVS projects, all have given us and expertise which we intent do use for the quality implementation of future projects.
- Sharing expertise with young persons involved in our projects, either as volunteers or employees :the expertise is shared with young persons that are involved in the implementation process.
- Involving young local volunteers: our projects have already involved local volunteers.The opportunity given by the ESC project now enhances the ability of involving local volunteers since there is no national structure supporting this effort.
- Creating a well tuned structure that can host volunteering programs:The long planning of Volunteering Partnerships will offer the opportunity of creating a structure that could host such activities on a long term basis.
- Involving local authorities and inspiring them in to implement volunteering activities: ESC offers an opportunity for local authorities to rely on a well planned long term process in such a way that the can actually invest in a creating a critical mass concerning volunteering structure, attitude, feeling and movement.
Long term objectives:
- Growth of volunteering management quality: For the last four years we have been involved in volunteering management not only by implementing projects but working to the direction of understanding, developing, sharing and transmitting knowledge not only locally but also through-out Europe. Examples are the trainings called Volunteer Management Enhanced (Volu.M.E), the KA2
EVSREALM, the KA2 the Good the Youth and The volunteer. Projects that aim to exchange good practices, expertise but also experience and quality.
- Increase the impact of volunteering activities in the field as environment, rural and cultural aspects: We want to make a difference. Not only once, not only in one place, not only for a short period. Solidarity to rural areas supporting agriculture, the sustainability of remote and small villages. Solidarity to cultural projects in historical areas of cities, supporting historical learning to the public and schools. Solidarity within public schools enhancing the capacity of supporting students with fewer opportunities, such as immigrants and high-risk dropouts.
- Developing a sense of solidarity: As already mentioned, our proposed projects have been promoting solidarity amongst society for the last 4 years. The aim now is being able to continue on this goal but in a more structured and constant way. Our project title: UNITY of Interests, Objectives, and Standards clearly defines the aim of this project. to create groups that will work together for their interests, with common goals but keeping a high-level standard and quality in what they pursue. increasing organisations that will be involved in volunteering activities: Not many organisations in Cyprus are involved in Volunteering activities or ESC projects. We aim that through our proposed project we will manage to support other organisations in getting involved, understanding the process, gaining expertise but mostly the will in getting involved in this project.
- Cultivating a culture for solidarity and volunteering: it is not enough to just implement projects. from our experience there is a need of culture behind them. we intend to create it.
What is the scenery in Cyprus, what is volunteering, how do people understand volunteering?
What is volunteer management and how is the quality of projects like this enhanced?
Is there a structure within local authorities that hosts activities like these?
Who is a young volunteer nowadays, his/her needs, profile?
How do we increase the impact using the idea of Solidarity and the funds offered?
All the above questions are part of our challenges that we seek to address. These questions have been appearing through our involvement in the volunteering projects and activities. Many times there is no definite answer and differs from the situation and place of implementation. What we have developed is an ability to “read” the needs and address them accordingly. What we will aim, since the volunteering partnership will offer a three-year continuity, is to develop a perspective of growth and development.
We have identified needs in various fields which can be summarised as follows:
-Volunteering Management Expertise – needed for running quality projects
-Needs of solidarity support for small communities and rural areas- need from survival concerning agricultural and cultural activities
-Protection and creation of awareness for Endangered species (caretta caretta turtles)
-Cultural awareness within cities and the development of low-cost cultural centers for attendees with financial difficulties
-Support for structures for students in urban public primary schools who are either migrants or with fewer opportunities
What has been our goal is to address these needs within each activity, but also create an impact that might offer sustainability.
Examples: The World Wide Village project, through its implementation for the last 4 years has offered an opportunity to the locals to be able to collect their products, mainly carobs and being able to sustain their involvement in the market, whereas before there was more of a tendency to abandon the fields, trees and production. EX-Volunteers have been returning to the village since, either as visitors or even workers.
The project Living History, Echoes of the City has promoted the culture and history of the old city in lively way, with an audience of 500 visitors in 2 weeks.The impact of the activity has managed to persuade the local authorities to invest in local and international volunteering projects cooperating with local NGO’s. Let’s volunteer project has supported local cultural structure in surviving trough the financial crisis and offering cultural activities for young persons and adults with a low cost fees.
The above examples are a sample of the impact and the expected need. This has become a demand and a need by the locals. Villages keep on coming back asking for more support, local authorities have been promoting and investing in local and international volunteering. Some examples of recorded needs:
One of the main reasons for investing in the implementation of this project is to cover a lack ness of planned funded projects on the local and national levels. ESC gives an opportunity of developing the culture and structure for a local and international setting for structures volunteering activities. A demand of the community which has been long needed.