2.8 Current debates and reforms
Two aspects will be key for the development of volunteering, including school volunteering:
- the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in grassroots actions aimed at helping the needy, providing impetus for initiatives such as Visible Hand (Widzialna Ręka) - local facebook groups providing help to people in quarantine or isolation or The Society of Help (“Wspólnoty pomocy”) - local support networks created around parish organisation. Such initiatives enliven the ideals of volunteering (although, once again, this is more general than just youth volunteering) and can be significant for their development.
- a new challenge is posed by the work being put by NGOs, volunteers, and private citizens (including hosting families) into aid for Ukrainian refugees. From one side, the war in Ukraine has caused an unprecedented social engagement, but it should be expected that insufficient support and systemic action might lead to disengagements and “burnout” of social energy.
This does not change an important social and economic trend that may have an impact on youth volunteering solution is pointed out by Magdalena Arczewska, Phd: “volunteering is now moving away from being community service and towards internship, traineeship or pro-employment volunteering, which aims to help young people enter the labour market, and, in the long term, find permanent employment. In this approach, volunteering is treated as a labour market institution” (Arczewska, 2017). The trend indicated by researchers from the National Bureau for Drug Prevention is not without significance either; they are writing about the high level of individualism that persists among young people: “the opinion that >nowadays a person who wants to achieve something in life should do their own thing, counting only on themselves< is almost as common as in 2013 and much more common than in 1998. At the same time, since 1998, the percentage of young people who believe that the ability to interact with other people is more important has dropped by 19 percentage points (from 45% to 26%), and since 2013 by 2 percentage points (from 28% to 26%) (…) Individualism is therefore stressed twice as often as co-operation with others.