Volunteering manual for beginners published in Russia
The manual “How to organise a volunteer service: A beginners guide” contains tips and guidance on a number of volunteer service areas and includes recommendations based on the experiences of large Orthodox voluntary associations.
According to the Press Office of the Synodal Department of the Russian Orthodox Church, the first part of the manual describes how to find, train and coordinate the work of volunteers. Advice is given on how to prevent volunteer burn-out, legal issues and working with the media. The second section covers various areas of volunteer activity, i.e. how to organise help for families, institutions, repair or washing service teams and the level of assistance required for wards, large families, the disabled, those who are seriously ill, the homeless and other categories of people in need.
More than 500 charity groups and 200 various volunteer associations currently work under the aegis of the Russian Orthodox Church. According to surveys carried out by its Synodal Section, the number of volunteers involved in charity work is growing all the time, with the average age of church volunteers being 35-40. The Orthodox Charity Relief Organisation Mercy, which is one of the largest church volunteer services, currently brings together over 1,250 volunteers.
Volunteers work with children (including disabled ones) in children’s homes, orphanages and hospitals, as well as helping large families both at home and in hospital, elderly people living on their own and those with HIV.
“In putting this manual together, we carried out a detailed analysis by studying experiences gained in creating volunteer services at parish, deanery and diocese levels, not just in Moscow but church-wide in general. We also took into account the knowledge and experiences of a number of secular volunteer bodies. The manual will help in organising the work of volunteers in a small village or city with a population of 1 million”, said Deacon Igor Kulikov, one of its authors and head of the distance-learning section and professional development at Mercy’s Synodal Department.
According to Father Igor, materials from distance-learning courses run by the Synodal Department were also used in the preparation of the manual. The Department has run more than 60 webinars since 2011 on a volunteer service to help those in need involving input from specialists from Moscow and the regions. It has also produced a video tutorial on organising volunteer work.