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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina

2. Voluntary Activities

2.4 Youth volunteering at national level

There is no National Programme for Youth Volunteering in Bosnia and Herzegovina and as a response to the growing need and requirements of the processes of promotion and development of volunteering in BiH, local youth NGO – Youth Communication Centre supported the development of volunteering infrastructure since 2005. This resulted in the development of local volunteer services in different cities, which formed a network called “Volontiram!” There are currently 14 local volunteer services under the network, established across the country, in Banja Luka, Bihac, Bijeljina, Brcko, Bugojno, Derventa, Doboj, Mostar, Mrkonjic Grad, Sarajevo, Srebrenica, Trebinje, Tuzla and Zenica.

A Local Volunteer Service (LVS) represents a basic structure for the encouragement of the citizens to volunteer (in accordance with the main principles of organised work with volunteers) and for the creation of volunteering programmes in accordance with the needs of the community in which they live.

The vision of the „Volontiram!“ Network is a humane and equal democratic society which actively includes its citizens in society processes. „Volontiram!“ is an informal network of local voluntary services in BiH, which contributes to the development of social capacities through activities of promotion and development of volunteering, as a condition for the improvement of the quality of life and for the development of the society altogether.

Strategic objectives of the “Volontiram!” Network:

  1. Established and applied legal framework of volunteering in BiH;
  2. Volunteering recognised and accepted as a positive social value;
  3. Established unitary system of volunteering management in BiH;
  4. Strong “Volontiram!” network that consists of sustainable local voluntary services in BiH;
  5. “Volontiram!” Network, recognised as the centre for information, exchange of experiences and development of innovative methodologies in the area of volunteering at national and international level.

Local volunteer services in the network “Volontiram!” define and use volunteer management systems aiming to establish quality standards for volunteering. These local volunteer services provide support and training on volunteer management quality standards to interested CSOs and other non-profit parties interested to engage volunteers, or which already actively include volunteers in their work.

Some CSOs through their internal rules and procedures define principles and quality standards related to engagement and work with volunteers. There is no empirical data that can illustrate percentages of these CSOs and implementation of these internal rules and procedures in reality.

Since 2011 the “Volontiram!” Network has been actively focused on the development of its own internal capacities and the reinforcement of its role regarding development and promotion of volunteering in BiH, as well as on the consolidation of cooperation with all relevant participants in BiH society.

According to the Socio-economic Perceptions of Young People in BiH published by UNDP BiH in 2017, the areas that respondents who did volunteer work most often list include charity work, humanitarian, and development assistance (27.7%), education and training (21.1%), and culture and arts (18.7%). Men are more likely than women to state that they volunteered in sports (10.4% - 2.2%) while respondents holding university degrees are more likely to state that they volunteered in the domain of education or training when compared to those who completed secondary education (34.3% vs. 13.1%).

In comparison with respondents from EU, young people from BiH are more likely to state that they volunteered in culture and arts (18.7% vs. 15% in EU). On the other hand, young people from the EU are more likely to state that they volunteered in other areas. More significant differences are observed in the animal welfare (9% in EU vs. 1.8% in BiH), politics (8% EU vs. 1.8% BiH), and religion (12% EU vs. 0.6% BiH).

Young people, who were focus group participants, rarely take part in the volunteer activities. Although, most respondents stated that they at least once participated in certain activities related to environmental protection and ecology, these were mostly short-term activities lasting one or two days at most, or they were focused on direct assistance to the local community, such as assistance in flood relief or humanitarian drives.

Young people highlight general inactivity and the lack of will as the reason for not participating in volunteer activities, although activities are an opportunity to gain needed work experience.

Focus groups participants who participated as volunteers in such activities state that they had complete and clear information about those activities. They knew who organized given activities, what their goals were, how those goals would be achieved, etc. When they thought they were not sufficiently informed, young people actively looked for information and managed to get the information they required.