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European Conference

Best Practice in International Volunteering

©Maxwell Picture Agency


©FORUM ©Maxwell Picture Agency

26-27 June 2008

Irish Aid Volunteer and Information Centre, Dublin

Supported by Funded by
Cliff Allum, ©Maxwell Picture Agency
President of
CEO of

©Skillshare/Jessica Lowe

In June 2008, a year on from our

second European conference in
Paris, we were delighted to hold
another European conference of
organisations involved in
international volunteer
co-operation in the new Irish Aid
Volunteer and Information Centre in

This conference was organised by

the International FORUM on
Development Service, hosted by
Comhlámh and funded by Irish Aid.

Conference sessions took the form

of presentations, group work, and
panel discussions, all looking at
areas of best practice in international
volunteering. The variety of styles
and content of the workshops added
to the overall energy of the event.

We were pleased to welcome a wide

range of delegates from Programme
Coordinators to Directors and also
including Southern partners and
returned development workers.

I would like to extend my thanks to

everyone who contributed to the
success of the conference, in Welcome to ‘Best Practice in
International Volunteering’
particular to Comhlámh for hosting
and to Irish Aid for the financial
support that enabled it to happen.
Also, thank you to everyone who President of International international volunteering.” He
provided feedback though our online FORUM on Development also expressed Irish Aid's
survey. We will use this valuable Service, Cliff Allum, welcomed pleasure to have funded the
information to help steer our future delegates to the conference on research on Codes of Practice
conferences. behalf of FORUM and thanked conducted by Comhlámh, that
Irish Aid, Comhlámh and all the was to be presented at the
Irish agencies for their support conference.
for this event.
Director of Comhlámh, Deirdre
Frank Flood, Head of Murray, introduced Comhlámh
Volunteering Corps at Irish Aid, and said: “she was looking
Cliff Allum then welcomed all delegates to forward to learning from all the
the new Irish Aid Volunteer and delegates experiences as
Information Centre. He stated: “it Comhlámh shared theirs.”
is vital to get public support for
Codes of Practice and Legal Frameworks
the theme of partner perspectives Mae Chao from UNV. Mae spoke
and experiences of international about research UNV are
volunteering. Further research will conducting into volunteerism
focus on the views and policies and legislation.
experiences of partner
organisations on a case study The goal of this research is to
basis, leading to an improved provide an overview of different
understanding by IVCOs and peer policy approaches in providing an
partner organisations of what enabling framework for
Siobhan Sleeman, Comhlámh constitutes good practice. volunteering and to analyse their
The first session of the conference “A code is useful as a donor.
started with a presentation from If applications show “Laws are a public affirmation
Siobhan Sleeman on Comhlámh’s organisations have identified for volunteering and how it
code of Conduct, which is a code need for resources through a benefits society and also the
of good practice for volunteer volunteer,” explained Mae.
self audit of their use of the
sending organisations.
code,” said Frank Flood, Irish
Aid. The preliminary findings show that
“The code is about bringing at least 73 countries have adopted
everyone up to the same level or introduced new laws or policies
in a supportive way,” to promote volunteerism since
explained Siobhan. 2001.

Siobhan explained why the code These polices promote awareness,

came about, through the legitimacy and status of
emergence of many new volunteering, change regulations
international volunteering which discourage volunteering,
organisations setting up and the show government commitment for
worry that issues of development the establishment of a volunteer
and the needs of all stakeholders Marie-Therese Fanning, Comhlámh participation or promotion schemes
can sometimes be eclipsed by and define the rights and
organisational needs. The results showed that a high responsibilities of volunteers.
number of organisations (85%)
“These shared principles can were aware of codes of practice The full findings and published
guide our work, as we can with a slightly lower percentage report from this research is
commit ourselves to them, using codes of some description expected to be published early next
and be held accountable by (77%). These codes are varied in year.
them,” said Siobhan. content, application and some were
voluntary whilst a few were “It is difficult not having a law
The process of how the code was mandatory. in Ireland because it’s hard to
developed and how it is being facilitate people to take up
implemented was presented. Also, The feedback received into the internships e.g. getting visas
Siobhan talked about the next relevancy of codes of practice was for non EU applicants,”
stage of the code, the self-audit very positive as was the reception explained Siobhan.
process, which is being piloted. to the idea of having a single code
of practice as a common standard.
This brought us on to a
presentation of the research into This idea of a common code did
FORUM members use of codes of however throw up a few challenges
practice. The research was carried such as agreeing content,
out by Comhlámh and the results recognising the cultural and
presented by Marie Therese geographical variety of member
Fanning. and partner organisations, and
monitoring coherence.
This is the first stage of research
FORUM is undertaking to address The third presentation was from
Mae Chao, UNV
Children and Vulnerable Adults Protection
Southern partner perspective He talked about the development is a tool that Skillshare uses and
Phesheya Vilakazi, Programme workers SWAGAA works with and they obligate all development
Manager of the Swaziland Action the processes of recruitment and workers they recruit to sign up to
Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA), ongoing support and monitoring the policy before they depart for
started the second workshop with a they have alongside their partner their placement.
presentation looking at the issue of organisations in the North.
protecting children and vulnerable The policy sets out what is
adults from abuse from many Phesheya then went on to present acceptable and not acceptable
sources including from his recommendations for reducing behaviour and also the procedures
development workers. the risk of abuse from development to follow if abuse is suspected.
workers including the need for
First Phesheya discussed the police clearance of development
prevalence of abuse in Swaziland. workers and a code of conduct
Approximately one in three women ensuring the protection of children
experienced some form of sexual and vulnerable adults that the
violence as a child; nearly one in development workers must sign
four women have experienced up to.
physical violence as a child; and
approximately three in ten women Sending organisation
have experienced emotional abuse perspective
as a child. Elaine Stevenson, International
Programme Manager -
Phesheya then went on to talk Development Workers at Skillshare
about his organisation SWAGAA International, partner organisation
and how they work with victims of of SWAGAA, presented the
abuse in Swaziland with safeguards Skillshare uses to
therapeutic counselling and also reduce the risk of abuse by
the preventative education development workers.
programmes they run. Phesheya Vilakazi, Programme Manager
The Child Protection Policy of the Swaziland Action Group Against
Abuse (SWAGAA)

Break Away Discussion

“With police checks for example, “People could work collaboratively

sending organisations can show in the field to tackle the problem
that they have taken reasonable of volunteers being isolated.
steps so it protects their When volunteers go overseas
reputation but is it effective in there is a new power imbalance
protecting vulnerable people? “ (they have new power) that they
Cliff Allum, FORUM. are not used to and don’t
understand – they need training.”
“It can be difficult for young Heather Harding, Canadian
people to understand what Volunteer Cooperation Coalition.
constitutes abuse, e.g. physical
punishment. There are cultural “You can’t capture everything in
differences in perception of what pre-departure training. You can’t
is considered abuse. Volunteers fully define unacceptable
reporting what they see as abuse behaviour. One case going wrong
– there is a power imbalance can destroy an agency, and a
there.” Malte Warburg, MS. person.” Marie-Therese Fanning,
Experiences of Returned
Development Workers
The third workshop of the returned support included careers her placement. She also liked the
conference was a chance for the advice, events to attend and a re- info packs and website. In-country
delegates to hear from returned settlement grant. there were 6-8 weeks orientation
development workers about their and language training. She talked
experiences of support pre- Aidan Leavy about the benefits of the volunteer
placement, while in placement and Aidan volunteered for four years in committee for processing issues.
on their return. Honduras, assisted by the Agency On return Wanja found the
for Personnel Services Overseas volunteer liaison group to be good
The workshop was held in café (APSO). and she received a resettlement
style. Delgates were split into three grant.
groups and placed with two Pre-departure Aidan received three
returned development workers, weeks training and also language Cushle O’Donovan
after short presentations and training, contact with the partner Cushle volunteered in India,
questions the groups moved organisation and access to a assisted by SUAS.
library. During his placement Aidan
around until all goups had seen all
the development workers. said that the two month in-country For Cushle important preparation
orientation worked well, as well as before going was that she got to
Emer Kerrigan exchange visits between other know the people she was going
Emer volunteered for two years in development workers. After with. She though the teamwork and
South Sudan at the Jesuit Refugee placement he received support conflict resolution training was also
Service (JRS), assisted by the from Comhlámh and was useful preparation. In-country she
Volunteer Missionary Movement encouraged to engage with the thought it was great to have the
(VMM). press. chance to take part in development
lectures and debates because it
She talked about her pre- Ronan Moore situated what she was doing within
placement training which included Ronan volunteered six years ago, the wider context of development
a training week and courses on assisted by an Irish NGO - issues. The weekend after coming
conflict transformation and Voluntary Services home was very important for her to
management in emergency International (V.S.I.). adjust to coming home and the
situations. Emer’s placement was power point presentation she made
in a very remote area but she says He talked about his short training there was a great way to remember
the in-placement support was good pre-departure, two weekends and and value all she had done.
and included radio an information day. In-country
communications. After her Ronan said that support was the
placement Comhlámh provided a responsibility of the receiving
lot of support and she is involved in organisation and he had orientation
pre-departure training for new upon arrival. Upon return there was
development workers. a weekend gathering and
evaluation. Ronan said a challenge
Orla McCarthy was that the organisation was too
Orla volunteered for two years in small to provide comprehensive
Ethiopia, assisted by VSO. support. Orla McCarthy on placement

The pre-departure support from Wanja Muguongo

VSO included financial help, Wanja volunteered as part of the
opportunity to talk to returned VSO South-South volunteer
volunteers and intensive training. programme. She is a Kenyan who
In-country Orla had a lot of support volunteered in India as a
including regular meetings with Programme Manager for two years.
other volunteers, an annual Wanja said the pre-departure
conference and 2-3 visits from training was very good and
VSO staff a year. When she prepared her psychologically for
Emer Kerrigan on placement
Funding Panel
Cliff Allum, President of FORUM, He gave case studies of the challenges of funding
chaired the funding panel and different types of partnerships international volunteer
began by talking about the they have including sending in new member
results of a recent survey of the partnerships for human states. She talked about the
funding of FORUM members resources, funding, advocacy, lack of government funding
based in Europe. The survey brand awareness and and the challenges associated
showed that most FORUM business facilitation. with getting government
members receive a majority of funding in Slovenia, for
their funding from the He talked about the example, the funding is often
government. It also showed that challenges that can be faced only available after a project is
FORUM members predicted that when dealing with corporates, completed.
in five years time the percentage including the effort you must
of their overall funding received put into the relationship often Urska explained the impact of
from non-government sources for small returns. joining the EU on funding and
would increase. how lack of funding often
Finally Urska Harman, from limits the amount of volunteers
Frank Flood, Irish Aid, made a Zavod Voluntariat - SCI they can send internationally.
presentation on why Slovenia, talked about the
governments fund international
volunteering NGOs.

He said there is a desire by

governments to harness public
interest in development and
there were many different things
that attracted donors to
international volunteering
including the development
outcome, development
education, public ownership,
career entry points and global
active citizenship.

Jurgen Deile, from EED,

presented the challenges of
governmental funding in relation
to the new German volunteering
initiative for getting 10,000 young
people involved in international

He talked about the control the

government has in this
programme, the complex
approval process for volunteer
placements and the impact state
politics can have on the

Malcolm Quigley, from VSO

Ireland, talked about the
corporate partnerships VSO
Ireland have forged.
Open Space
Experience of AFVP FK Norway engage returned It is a three year project which
The open space session opened development workers in offers the possibility for around 800
with a presentation from Gérard information sharing on North-South young people (18-25 years old) a
Ventre from AFVP. This issues through a variety of year to go overseas for a period of
presentation followed on from the methods such as drama, 10 weeks. These volunteers are
workshop on children and exhibitions, school visits and selected individually but go in
vulnerable adults protection. engagement with media. groups of between 10 and 15 and
stay together to work on a project.
Gérard focussed on the measures They also engage the returned
AFVP put in place to protect their development workers in Cliff explained that there is a,
young volunteers who go overseas. institutional development through “strong public engagement focus,”
The most important factor to AFVP transfer of professional to this project, it hopes to enable
in this aspect is the ratio of staff to competence by sharing young global citizens and hopes
development workers. The experiences, new knowledge, they will influence others and
maximum ratio for AFVP being 80 ideas and methods. encourage them to do the same.
staff to 500 volunteers.

The following three presentations Platform 2 Research Methodology

took place at the same time with Cliff Allum, president of FORUM Mae Chao, from UNV, gave an
delegates choosing which they and CEO of Skillshare update on the methodology, that
would like to attend. International, introduced delegates was jointly developed with FORUM
to Platform 2, the new UK members, to look at the impact of
programme for young volunteers. international volunteering.
Engaged for Life The programme has similarities to
Live Bjørge made her presentation the German model Jurgen talked The methodology is based on
on how FK Norway works with about during the funding panel. bringing together development
development workers after they workers, partner organisations and
return to their home country. This is a £10 million project, funded other stakeholders workshops
by DFID, implemented by Christian aimed at getting qualitative
“Follow up activities are a way of Aid, Islamic Relief and BUNAC, information about placements.
spreading out the benefits of the which will enable young people
exchange programme from beyond from disadvantaged backgrounds This method has been piloted and
the individual.” Live Bjørge. to have the opportunity to volunteer feedback pointed to the materials
internationally. such as the manual being long and
quite complex, so it was agreed
that IVCOs should adapt the
methodology to fit their needs.

UNV have now adapted the

methodology. They have simplified
the materials and have also
brought resource people into the
regional workshops on thematic
areas to validate what is being said
and add their expertise.

The handbook has been reduced

from 100 to 60 pages and the
templates have also been moved
onto CD format. The handbook
will also be translated into French
and Spanish and will then be
available from the UNV website for
public use.
Jennifer Keyes, Overseas
Presenters and Projects Officer, VMM
Participants Dervla King, Research
Coordinator, Irish Missionary
Resource Service
Cliff Allum, President,
International FORUM on Alison Leahy, Development
Development Service Education Officer, Comhlámh
Live Bjørge, Head of Aidan Leavy, Director,
Programmes, Fredskorpset International Service Ireland
Fons Burcksen, Personnel Claire Lewis-Armes,
Officer Overseas, PSO European Conference
Coordinator, FORUM
Laurie Chambon,
Coordinator, CLONG- Sergio Marelli, Director
Volontariat General, Volontari nel mondo
Mae Chao, Volunteer
Infrastructure Specialist, UNV Wanja Muguongo, VSOJ -
Ufadhili Trust
Maria Christensen, Project Many thanks to Comhlámh
manager, MS Giselle Murphy, Global for hosting this year’s
Village Programme European conference and to
Jürgen Deile, Head of Coordinator, Habitat for
Department of seconded Irish Aid and their employees
Humanity Ireland for all their support.
personnel, Church
Development Service Deirdre Murray, Director,
Marie-Therese Fanning, For further information about
Programme Manager, Malcolm Quigley, Director,
VSO Ireland FORUM, please contact:
Membership and Support
Services, Comhlámh Tom Ryder, Coordinator,
Tara Finglas, Volunteering Voluntary Service
Background documents
Unit, Irish Aid International
from the conference can be
Frank Flood, Head of Siobhan Sleeman, Project found at
Volunteering Corps, Irish Aid Manager, Volunteering
Options, Comhlámh
Fran Flood, Director,
Skillshare International Elaine Stevenson,
Ireland International Programme
Manager - Development
Heather Harding, Workers, Skillshare
Campaigner, Canadian International
Volunteer Cooperation
Coalition Lorraine Tansey, Student
Volunteer Coordinator, NUI
Urska Hartman, Programme Galway
Coordinator, Zavod
Voluntariat - SCI Slovenia Gérard Ventre, Partnership
Department, Association
Andree Kearney, Française des Volontaires du
Volunteering Unit, Irish Aid Progrès
Karen Kennedy, Global Phesheya Ndumiso
Village Programme Manager, Vilakazi, Programme
Habitat for Humanity Ireland Manager, Swaziland Action
Deirdre Kettlewell, Support Group Against Abuse
Services for Returned Malte Warburg, Programme
Development Workers Coordinator, MS
Officer, Comhlámh