“Volunteering should not be a spontaneous development”
Galina Bodrenkova, the president of the Russian Centre for Development of Volunteering, said this in an interview with an ASI correspondent. She also noted that “The establishment and development of volunteering are most active in places where there are volunteer organisations. These are Samara, Togliatti, Novokuibyshevsk, Lipetsk and Perm regions and the Republic of Karelia amongst others.” These organisations have been around for a long time in the rest of the world, but in Russia they are only in the first stage of development. Bodrenkova believes that the legal status of the volunteer organisation is not important – it can be a government organisation or an NGO. The main thing is that the organisation’s aims, objectives and activities are consistent with worldwide practice in the voluntary sector and at the same time take the needs of the region into account.
Volunteer organisations should work together with local government, NGOs, media and business to regularly update the so-called ‘map of places’ in their region where voluntary work is needed; advertise requirements for volunteers in the media; assist people with finding voluntary work, support organisations that are prepared to take on volunteers; search for new volunteers by promoting volunteering in the region (for example, holding events such as ‘Spring Kindness Week’ and ‘It’s Easy!’) Bodrenkova said that the organisations should also train NGO staff and state and municipal authorities on working with volunteers. As soon as there is regular volunteering work, there will be a significant rise in the number of Russian volunteers including more schoolchildren and students.
These issues amongst others were discussed at the VII All Russian Conference ‘Volunteering – an Innovative Resource of Social Partnership and Development of Civil Society’, organised by the Russian Centre for the Development of Volunteering and organisations in the Lipetsk region: the Public Chamber and the State Regional Establishment of the Centre for the Development of Volunteering in partnership with the Department of Internal Affairs. The conference was supported by the Lipetsk authorities, the State Duma Committee for Public Associations and Religious Organisations, the Ministry of Economic Development, the Council of the Central Federal District, ASI and the magazine ‘Business and Society’. According to the website of the Regional Public Organisation ‘Volga Don’, which protects the rights of terror act victims, the participants in the conference discussed ways of improving the legal, institutional and economic conditions to develop and support volunteering in Russia; development and implementation of programmes supporting youth volunteering; an information and consultation infrastructure and educational support for volunteers. Mechanisms were also developed to ensure the growth and increased participation of citizens and organisations in volunteering. Those taking part in the conference are experts in the fields of volunteering and charities, employed in government legislative and executive authorities, local government, as NGO staff and volunteers, and business and media representatives – more than 150 people from thirty three regions in Russia as well as Ukraine and Estonia. The conference held a plenary session on ‘Development of Practices and Methods to support volunteering’. “2011 is the tenth anniversary of the ‘International Year of the Volunteer’ – there will be round table meetings and master classes as well as the exhibitions ‘History of Volunteering and Charity in Lipetsk’ and the ‘All-Russian volunteer activity ‘We create our future together’ “. The outcome of the VII All Russian Conference ‘Volunteering – an Innovative Resource for Social Partnership and the Development of Civil Society’ is reflected in the final recommendations. These will be passed on to the President and the Public Chamber of Russia, as well as government and regional authorities.
Translated by Lina Numan