ACCESS NL > Features > Volunteering: People helping people
Volunteering: People helping people
2021-08-24 | By Abbie Marsh Pumarejo
Why volunteer? According to volunteeringsolutions.com the number one reason you should consider volunteering is because you are needed.
No work is small, and volunteers are extremely valuable resources for an organisation. Whether it’s about financial, mental or physical contribution–everything together matters a lot. Volunteers have the chance to get directly involved in noble work, serving those who need your care and affection.
I have always volunteered because the return on my investment of time and talents has been a positive reinforcement in my life in so many ways. I’ve met amazing people, learned new skills, visited interesting and diverse communities to name a few. I remember as a pre-teen I was admitted to a programme for Candy Stripers (hospital volunteers) at a hospital in my town. I was thrilled. Being a Candy Striper so long ago paved the way for me to seek volunteer opportunities in every country we have lived in.
Great to volunteer
Sytske Geertsma is an Advisor for PEP Den Haag, the city she has called home since 2011, and advises civil organisations in The Hague on ways to recruit volunteers, how to better manage and how to create volunteer policies. Recently PEP Den Haag and the Municipality of The Hague created the campaign Mensen Maken Den Haag (People Make The Hague). This campaign is designed to shine a light on all 185,000 volunteers in the city. “By showing how great it is to volunteer, we hope others will join. During the year, the municipality and PEP Den Haag will create a monthly themed video and podcast,” says Geertsma. For example, May’s theme was ‘Greener’ with the spotlight on volunteers working in green roles.
Year of the volunteer
2021 has been designated as the Nationaal Jaar Vrijwillige Inzet (National Year of Voluntary Service). According to Geertsma, NOV (the Dutch platform for voluntary commitment) has decided that every 10 years, volunteers need to be given extra attention. In 2001 it was the International Year of the Volunteer and in 2011 it was the European Year of the Volunteer. So, it was obvious that 2021 had to be the National Year of the Volunteer.
It’s an appropriate time to acknowledge all the volunteers who make things possible throughout the country. “Without them a lot of things like festivals, activities and sports events could not be organised. In this year all volunteers are given the recognition they deserve and to show how rewarding and fun volunteering actually is,” says Geertsma.
There are resources for internationals to find volunteer opportunities throughout the Netherlands–see sidebar for details. One such, Volunteer The Hague, is a platform specifically designed for the non-Dutch speaking population to find suitable volunteer opportunities. “It’s truly heart-warming that so many internationals are part of the volunteer community in The Hague. They all come together through the platform. They also deserve recognition for their efforts.”
In the campaign, August will focus on culture, September on sports, October emancipation and November on healthcare. They focus on two organisations, and videos and podcasts will help to show others how much fun it is to volunteer and hopefully the organisations will get more applications and interest.
While it is still too early to see the results of this national campaign, the end goal is to see an increase in volunteers and opportunities from organisations. Geertsma says that regular Mix & Match events are organised and it’s easy to connect with organisations that suit individual needs. She reminds us that through this platform, it is not necessary to speak Dutch.
Has she noticed if people are more eager to help out or more reticent after Covid-19? “During the lockdown lots of new volunteering energy popped up. People spontaneously started helping others and organising things. Also, people were looking for something to do outside of their homes.”
“Unfortunately the more vulnerable volunteers were unable to volunteer due to Covid and still can’t, and many regular volunteer jobs stopped all together due to the restrictions.
But overall, I think that the eagerness of people to help out and help others has been great during the last year. Hopefully people have learned how rewarding it is and will keep on volunteering.”
Geertsma is hopeful that the more susceptible volunteers will soon be able to return to some kind of normal where everyone can join in again.
While Mensen Maken Den Haag (People Make The Hague) recognises all volunteers, the city also wants to feature internationals who volunteer, by including them in the videos and podcasts, to show the enormous variety in volunteering.
Do you want to volunteer for ACCESS? Find out more information about it here.
About the author
Abbie Marsh Pumarejo is a writer and editor based in Europe, who enjoys travel, reading, entertaining and spending time at the beach in Spain.