Download a copy of the full conference report including all presentations of expert speakers, volunteer resources and a short report on the conclusions of the conference.
On 13-14 October, in the framework of SHARE II, ICMC and the Dutch Refugee Council in the province of Limburg (VluchtelingenWerk Limburg) welcomed 25 experts in volunteering for refugee integration from 9 European countries for a 2-day expert seminar held in the city of Maastricht, the Netherlands. The seminar programme was structured around discussion and exchange on approaches and best practice in volunteering for refugee and migrant integration across Europe. Click here to read more about the SHARE II focus on volunteering during 2014-15.
Expert participants were drawn from the following local and regional authorities, refugee-assisting NGOS, mainstream volunteering organisations and networks working at local, national and European levels, as well as refugees with experience of volunteering.
The Dutch Council for Refugees co-hosted the conference and gave presentations on several expert panels, including chairing the first Day 1 expert panel on 'Partnerships for effective volunteering'. Migration Work presented the Implementoring project, an initiative to facilitate city peer exchange on integration led by SHARE partner the Eurocities network. Caritas Vienna , the European Volunteer Centre (CEV) and Polish Humanitarian Action (PAH) presented on the first expert panel on 'Building a Culture of Volunteering'.
The first expert panel on Day 2 focused on 'Coordination, Implementation, Monitoring & Evaluation' of volunteering programmes. Additional to the presentation given by Dutch Refugee Council, Danish Refugee Council and Refugee Action gave presentations on this aspect of their volunteer programmes . The following expert panel looked at how volunteering can aid integration, both at an individual level and through building welcome at the local level. Presenters included Forum Refugies Cosi, the city of Osnabrück (Germany), Dutch Refugee Council and City of Sanctuary. Chaired by the Danish Refugee Council, the final expert panel of the conference considered the question 'who volunteers?', and looked at strategies for recruiting volunteers from all sections of society. Dutch Refugee Council were joined in giving presentations by Voluntary Action Sheffield and Portuguese Refugee Council (CPR).
Other organisations participating at the conference without making formal presentations included the Workers Welfare Association (AWO) from Germany, Organisation for Aid to Refugees (OPU) in the Czech Republic, and the Foundation for Refugee Students (UAF) in the Netherlands.
In addition to contributing to the peer exchange on volunteering in refugee resettlement planned in the framework of SHARE II during 2015, the conference presented opportunities for participants to learn from one another and reflect on their own practice and approaches:
“In Denmark, we tend to first recruit new volunteers and then offer them information, but the Portuguese way was "the other way round": First you offer information and learning to the general public and when you have their attention you hope they might get interested in the refugee question and the volunteer work of your organisation. As we also like to think of the DRC as an advocacy organisation, therefore it makes sense to offer knowledge on refugee issues to the Danish population in general and not only to a small, "exclusive" group of people.”