2.7 Social inclusion through volunteering
Support to young volunteers
In Estonia, social inclusion of young people with fewer opportunities is mainly provided via the European Solidarity Corps volunteering actions, which provides additional resources to include all young people. This can mean young people with physical obstacles but also support in mental health or specific ways of travel support. This support is not only for cross-border volunteering but also for in-country volunteering.
On the national level, no concrete policies are set in place to support young people with fewer opportunities in volunteering.
Started from the 2021, the Ministry of the Interior's strategic partners in the direction of informed and active residents, including the direction of promoting voluntary activities, are the Network of Nonprofit Organisations and the Network of County Development Centres (MTÜ Maakondlikud Arenduskeskused). One of the goals of this direction is "increased participation of Estonian residents in voluntary activities, especially among the elderly and young people", including one expected result: increased participation of residents aged 15-24 in voluntary activities. A more detailed overview of the developments can be obtained with the study, which is planned to be carried out in 2023, but according to the strategic partner, positive developments can already be seen.
Extract from the 2022 report of the the Network of Nonprofit Organisations and the Network of County Development Centres: "In connection with the arrival of Ukrainian war refugees in Estonia, the number of volunteers has increased significantly, especially among younger and middle-aged people. It is an estimate, since the study has not yet been conducted. In terms of involving young people, the main strategy is still to develop and support voluntary NGOs and to develop a community practice programm (Kogukonnapraktika programm), which for many young people is the first major introduction to volunteering and civil society in general."
The platform for bringing together volunteers and contributors is Vabatahtlike Värav. The platform is available in three languages. By September 2022, the page was updated with a number of new functions and possibilities, such as creating users, managing old ads, creating a volunteer database, etc.
For Estonia, the main network of previous volunteers is promoted by the Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps Agency in Estonia under the strategic partnership network EuroPeers. They are the alumni of European Voluntary Service and European Solidarity Corps as well as Erasmus+ Youth projects and share actively their experience with their peers. EuroPeers also provides a space for learning and exchange of experiences for young people across Europe.
The Network of Nonprofit Organisations coordinates a network of organizations involving volunteers. The official number of members of the network is currently 59, which shows a fairly large increase over the year. Although potentially more will join the network in 2023, the main area of development is the substantive involvement of members.
The main communication channels of the Network of Nonprofit Organisations are:
- Good Citizen Facebook page (4198 followers)
- Good Citizen portal (74 708 visitors ja 162 258 views)
- Good Citizen newsletter (2133 Estonian-speaking subscribers, 478 Russian-speaking subscribers, 150 English-speaking subscribers)
- Annetamistalgud homepage (6320 visitors and 15 072 views); and Annetamistalgud Facebook page (1566 followers)
- Vabatahtlike Värav (8800 visitors)
- Vabata tahe Facebook page (2749 followers)
- various mailing lists of members and networks of the Network of Nonprofit Organisations
Continuous cooperation with other voluntary work platforms and employers also works. There is regular communication and cooperation with several social media platforms such as Lahedad vabatahtlikud, Olen vabatahtlik and others. Communication was also continued with the leaders of the Annetame Aega environment and the Armastan Aidata environment leaders in order to find common topics and the opportunity to develop voluntary work together.
Tackling societal challenges
NGO Mondo has been involved in sending European Union volunteers to different countries; starting from 2023 the volunteers are being sent through the EU Solidarity Corps.
One example here is incubator NULA which is made in collaboration with National Foundation of Civil Society (NFCS) and Good Deed Foundation. NULA focuses on providing and implementing smart solutions to societal problems through civil society. There aren´t separate overview of how many of the teams are youth teams.