Volunteering in the Netherlands
Volunteering was generally considered an activity to improve the well-being of others without any remuneration. It used to be thought of as being rooted in a positive attitude: working because you want to and not because you have to. It has now been expanded to a process of learning and developing. It takes many forms, and can be performed by a wide range of people in many areas, while giving the feeling of satisfaction that comes from giving back to a community, being helpful, being busy, meeting new people and developing skills. There are many interesting volunteering positions you can apply for in the Netherlands through different organisations.
- The benefits of volunteering are innumerous. Some of them are:
- Opening your mind: You get a wider perspective on things, become more compassionate and become aware of problems in our society.
- Feeling good: You feel better when you help improve life for others and accomplish something. Volunteering can even help you strengthen and protect your mental and physical health.
- Meeting people: A platform for socialising and developing friendships.
- Gaining experience: It helps develop and improve skills such as teamwork, communication, being organised, etc. Volunteering can also help you learn more about your field of interest.
- Getting busy: For the unemployed, under-employed or people looking for job opportunities, having a volunteer position helps pass the time.
Tips to narrow down volunteering options
The main popular volunteering areas are:
- Community development
This encompasses volunteer work that aims to improve infrastructure and services like sanitation, water, permanent shelter, electricity, schools, gardening, reliable roads, and more.
- Environment & wildlife
These are the services directed towards environmental and wildlife management. They can involve environmental monitoring, re-vegetation, weed removal and several other ecological restoration related processes. Raising awareness about the environment also falls under the same category.
- Schools or education
Volunteering in schools may involve helping underprivileged children and adults to develop life-changing skills (like learning English, which can significantly improve the prospects of people living in developing countries), being a classroom helper, helping with fundraising efforts, etc. You can also participate in fun activities like drama productions, one-off events and chaperoning on field trips.
Other areas where volunteers are utilised
- Community theatres, museums and monuments
- Libraries or senior help centres
- Clubs and organisations like school clubs, youth organisations, rotary clubs, sports clubs
- Restoration activities for parks, and other public spaces
- Places of worship
NB: Volunteering can be done within an organisation, out in the field and from home, with tasks such as writing, graphic designing, emailing and social media.
In 2010, a survey revealed that the Netherlands has the highest percentage of volunteers in the world. More than one in five people work as volunteer; a number which has been growing during the past decade. Volunteers spend an average of five hours a week on unpaid activities.
Volunteering in the Netherlands
For general information on volunteering in Netherlands, you can contact the national Dutch volunteer office on its hotline, (0900 899 8600, €0.20 per min.) and check the daily papers for ads regarding volunteering opportunities.
Some volunteer opportunities
- ACCESS: Of course, volunteering for ACCESS means supporting the international community in the Netherlands and is a rewarding way of using your existing skills and adding to your experience during your stay in the country.
- Expatriate Archive Centre: an organisation which archives expat experiences.
- Volunteer in The Hague: Volunteer The Hague matches your talents and skills with the needs of local non-profit organisations.
Many cities have an overview of volunteering opportunities in their area.