European Success Story: Dublin City Volunteer Centre
Pictured above: some volunteers at a Get Connected conversation salon discussing shared European values.
About Dublin City Volunteer Centre
Dublin City Volunteer Centre’s (DCVC) mission is to promote the value of volunteering and increase the range and quality of volunteering in Dublin city. It was formed in 2014 from a merger between Dublin City North Volunteer Centre and Dublin City South Volunteer Centre. Although an independent company, we are part of the network of twenty-one Volunteer Centres and six Volunteer Information Services, affiliated to Volunteer Ireland. DCVC is the hub for volunteering within Dublin city and covers the area, as is defined, by the Dublin City Council administrative boundaries.
How did Dublin City Volunteer Centre start their European journey?
DCVC has been involved in a number projects that involved cooperation with European partners over the past few years. These projects have proven to be both thought-provoking and enriching for the organisation, and the exchange and collaboration with the various partner organisations from a diverse range of European countries have brought about reflection and learning for all involved. DCVC’s previous involvement in European networks also meant that we had some established links and relationships across Europe that we were able to draw upon when setting out to find partners for our current project. One of the projects we were previously involved with, “Volunteering as Tool for Social Inclusion”, was funded by Grundtvig in 2013, a predecessor of the current Erasmus+ programme.
What European projects does Dublin City Volunteer Centre currently have?
Our current project is called “Get Connected – Volunteering and Shared Values”. With the project, we want to find out more about the impact volunteering can have on people’s attitudes and shared values in 2018 across four European countries.
It is funded under the European Commission’s “Europe for Citizens” programme. The programme aims to encourage democratic participation of citizens by promoting opportunities for societal and intercultural engagement and volunteering at EU level.
There are four partner organisations involved in the project:
- Dublin City Volunteer Centre (Ireland) project coordinator
- Serve the City (Brussels)
- Volonterski centar Osijek (Croatia)
- Volunteer Scotland (Scotland)
Some of the common values to be examined through volunteering are: solidarity, democracy, equality, self-fulfilment and respect for other cultures, which are listed in the EU Barometer Report, The Values of Europeans.
The project consists of a number of components:
- People who were new to volunteering were invited to attend a number of “conversation salon” events in each country with the aim of establishing solidarity among participants and discussing issues like community spirit, shared values and local engagement through volunteering.
- Participants then embarked on their own “volunteering journey”.
- A “volunteering and EU values” impact survey was designed to measure participants’ level of connectedness to the common values before and after they started their journey.
- Research was conducted on the infrastructure and policy context of volunteering in each partner countries to examine linkages with observations and experiences of volunteers.
- The volunteer journeys from participants in each country will be shared via a “Roadshow”, a photo exhibition in each country that will introduce some of the participating volunteers and their activities to the public. The Irish exhibition was launched in the CHQ Building on 10 December. You can read all about the exhibition on their blog <https://volunteerdublincity.ie/dcvc-celebrates-volunteering-across-europe/>.
What are Dublin City Volunteer Centre’s plans for European funding going forward?
We are hoping to apply for EU funding in the future. We currently don’t have any concrete project proposals submitted but are considering funding options under the Erasmus+ <https://www.leargas.ie/programmes/erasmusplus/> or Europe for Citizens funding streams in the future. We would also be interested in further exploring options in relation to the European Solidarity Corps.
Future EU funding will enable further collaboration with partner organisations on the European level, which would provide mutual learning opportunities, facilitate an exchange of ideas and support continued professional development.
What would you tell people thinking of pursuing EU funding?
While the application process for EU funding may seem a little daunting at the start, it is certainly worth the effort, so I would highly recommend it. We are particularly pleased with the “Europe for Citizens” grant, as the reporting requirements are more accommodating for our line of work (especially with regards to administration).
What I would say to people is to think big and go for it! It can also be really helpful to have at least one or two project partners who you have met before to have a better idea about how they might approach the project implementation, and to think through your idea from different angles from the start.
EU funding really enabled us to foster strong and warm relationships with fellow practitioners across Europe and I would hope that others considering applying for EU funding would also find this worthwhile.
Being part of the new European Project Manager Network, facilitated by The Wheel, is also a positive bonus that offers plenty of opportunities for exchange and collaboration in the future.