How do volunteers, NGOs and state social services interact?
On September 23, the Blogosphere Centre hosted a discussion entitled ‘The Experience of successful interaction of volunteers, NGOs and institutions in the social security system’.
This was part of the autum volunteer conference at the research centre ‘Еspecially, Childhood’, which took place 22-23 September at various venues around Moscow.
The leader of the panel, the director of the charity Way of Life noted that the interaction between volunteers, NGOs and representatives of social protection institutions is ‘splintered’.
‘State institutions have a very difficult task, because they take the volunteers. On our side, the side of the NGOs, it seems that everything is very simple’ said Beregovaya It’s all clear: we came with good intentions. On the side of the institutions, it’s more of a partnership process, because they are responsible for a huge number of citizens and employees’.
She remarked that it is essential to build a three-way partnership, between citizens, institutions, and volunteers.
Anna Bitova, director of a regional not-for-profit Centre for Pedagogical Treatments, said that in one of the boarding schools that they work at, the staff were very surprised that workers and volunteers had decided to come to them. She said that the ability to receive volunteers and the ability of state employees to appreciate them is still far off.
‘In 2015, we began to regulate the interactions between our organisation, NGOS, and the volunteer community’, said Ala Dzugaeva, Deputy Head of the Department of Labour and Social Protection at the City of Moscow. ‘In this register, we approve the types of interaction, register NGOs that work in centres and orphanages, and list procedures for accompanying children. It is important for us that volunteers can take children outside and enable children to leave the institution’.
Dzugaeva added that her department also requires volunteers to pass certain tests. She said that their institutions have a ‘guest mode’ and that they are open to volunteers.
Maria Ostrovksaya, president of the charity Prospects, said that cases where volunteers are invited into an organisation do occur, and that this practice is becoming more common throughout the country. ‘In some places, doors to volunteers open very slowly, creaking, in some places they are open, but with teeth, and in others they are open wide’, Ostrovksaya said. ‘Everything depends on the personality of the institute’s director’. In her opinion, the openness of institutions also depends on the integrity of their work – if there is something that volunteers might not approve of, then it is kept behind closed doors.
Vadim Menshov, the Director of the NGO Our Home, noted that society is not yet ready for open interaction between local government institutions and other types of organisation. His institution is open to volunteers, and there are no problems with them. But his neighbours cause complications. He receives disgruntled messages from residents. ‘Your children occupy almost the entire neighbourhood, and it is impossible for residents to walk with their children. Before you had volunteers you never used to come here, but now you come several times a day, and it threatens our security’, Menshov quotes a resident as saying