2.4 Youth volunteering at national level
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National Programme for Youth Volunteering
There is no national programme for general youth volunteering in Greece. Instead, there are volunteering actions targeted to all age groups, organised by specific authorities.
For example, the Ministry for Climate Crisis and Civil Protection/General Secretariat for Civil Protection (GSCP) (Law 4662/2020), keeps a register of the civil protection volunteers and organisations. Those are defined as:
1. Civil Protection Volunteer: The person-member of a voluntary civil protection organisation, constituting part of the Civil Protection staff, who provides, in cooperation with Local Government and other organisations, unpaid and non-profit service for the benefit of the society as a whole.
2. Voluntary Civil Protection Organisation: Legal entities or associations or groups of persons, constituting part of the Civil Protection staff, who, in cooperation with Local Government and other organisations, are active in providing non-profit services for the benefit of society as a whole.
The GSCP has a coordinating role in the training of Civil Protection Volunteers and trains them through the Civil Protection Academy. The Academy, for educational purposes, may conclude memorandums of understanding, program agreements or contracts with relevant public or private bodies (national or other relevant authorised or recognised bodies and institutions of higher education), in subjects related to the mission of Civil Protection.
Civil Protection Volunteers are managed by the local Civil Protection Coordinators, in accordance with the existing and declared operational capabilities, in accordance with the emerging operational needs.
The Ministry of Health, in its project report for 2019-2020 (National Action Plan for Public Health 2021-2025) for the Covid-19 pandemic response actions, refers to the creation of:
- a Special Voluntary Program for the employment of adult citizens in public health structures, for the treatment of Covid-19 (Legislative Content Act, Article 35, par. 2 Government Gazette 75/Α/ 30.03.2020).
- operation of the telephone line 10306 for Psychological Support by volunteers. Citizens' issues included Psychological Support, Psychiatric Support, Support for Children and Adolescents, Support for Health Professionals and Support from Social Workers to solve.
The Ministry of Health supervises also the National Blood Donation Center (EKEA), a legal entity under public law, which aims at the development and promotion of the National Blood Donation System. Blood donation in Greece happens on a voluntary, unpaid basis (Law 1820/1988). Blood donation is considered ‘voluntary and unpaid’ if the blood donor donates blood voluntarily, without accepting payment, either in cash or in another form that is considered to be a substitute for money.
As mentioned previously, the Greek government does not have a national program for youth volunteering in the form of a general, nation-wide program.
The new Law 4873/2021 concerning volunteering activities, on the other hand, provides a legal basis for voluntary engagement as a regulatory framework to promote this socially essential contribution. The regulation on funding:
a) Concerns the registration and financing of voluntary organisations established and operating in Greece as associations or non-profit organisations with a public purpose and the ultimate goal of ensuring integrity, transparency and accountability.
b) Refers to the voluntary employment inside or outside Greece, that is provided, without financial or other material consideration. Important aspects of the funding are covered such as the requirements for the funding of the volunteering organisations and the types of funding.
According to the same law, there is no provision of financial recompensation to volunteers. More specifically:
• Voluntary employment includes the provision of work or services in actions, projects or programmes of voluntary employment providers by volunteers without financial or other material consideration.
• Financial benefits to volunteers are offered exclusively to cover travel expenses, which are directly related to their voluntary employment. Benefits also include equipment, free of charge transit, accommodation and food services. All the above benefits are not considered as part of a recompensation for voluntary work.
• Employment in voluntary providers' programmes is not considered voluntary, when it is defined as obligatory in the law or court decision.
Additionally, according to the article 68 of Law 4662/2020, the GSCP, in the framework of the National Civil Protection Planning, may add to its budget a special credit for the support of the members of Voluntary Organisations in terms of materials, equipment and means. The above credit is approved by decision of the Secretary General of Civil Protection, after the submission of an action plan by the Voluntary Organisations. The approval is subject to the capacity, energy and participation in volunteering actions of the Organisation. Voluntary Organisations supported by the General Secretariat for Civil Protection are not allowed to receive grants from other bodies of the Ministry for Climate Crisis and Civil Protection. However, clothing and footwear can be provided to them from the resources of the local authorities.
Moreover, Voluntary Organisations can become beneficiaries in EU-funded programmes, for the acquisition of equipment and the realisation of training.
Characteristics of youth volunteering
There is no official data regarding the characteristics of youth volunteers, except information from the "Civil Protection Volunteering Register" which consists of the Civil Protection Voluntary Organisations. According to the data published on the website of the Civil Protection, the number of Greek Voluntary organisations (addressing also young volunteers) operating in the country, are as follows:
Number of Voluntary Organisations
East Macedonia and Thrace
Support to young volunteers
There is no official support for the young volunteers except the financial and other resources mentioned in the Greek Law 4662/2020 that have been discussed previously.
Quality Assurance (QA)
According to Greek Law 4662/2020 (Article 60), there are several conditions that the volunteer has to meet in order to renew the status of the Civil Protection volunteer. These conditions can ensure the quality of the volunteers who collaborate with the Civil Protection:
1. In order for the Civil Protection Volunteers to renew their status as Volunteers, they receive every six (6) years from the date of acquisition of their status, additional training from the Academy of Civil Protection.
2. In case of unsuccessful completion of the above additional training, the Civil Protection Volunteers may repeat the process within three (3) months, during which their status is suspended. Failure to do so will, results in loss of Civil Protection Volunteer status.
3. Loss of the status of Civil Protection Volunteer occurs after the issuance of a reasoned decision by the Secretary General of Civil Protection.
4. The deletion of the Voluntary Organisation from the Civil Protection Volunteering Register, leads also to the loss of status for the respective volunteers - members of this organisation.
As the Greek government does not have a national programme for youth volunteering in the form of a general, nation-wide programme, each authority that organises programmes/projects/initiatives in the field of youth volunteering at national level must identify their specific target groups within the youth population, whose participation in voluntary activities is sought.