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The concept of “Youth Volunteering” used by the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth since the beginning of the 2000´s, encompasses different forms of intervention with a common denominator, the public they address (young people). After the publication, in 1998 and 1999, of the general legislation and regulation of volunteering in Portugal, it was defined as the set of actions of social and community interest carried out in a disinterested way by people, within the scope of projects, programmes and other forms of intervention at the service of individuals, families and the community developed without profit by public or private entities, and in the middle of the International Year of Volunteers (2001) the then Portuguese Institute for Youth launched the National System for Youth Volunteering. The National System for Youth Volunteering, innovative at the time of its launch, was based on an electronic platform and aimed to stimulate the development of the practice of volunteering by young people by promoting, through the Internet, the meeting of young people, the entities that promote volunteer projects, sponsors and trainers. The demonstration of interest in volunteer projects by the youth population, as well as the awareness and social recognition of the importance of volunteering as an instrument of non-formal education, contributed to the Portuguese Institute for Youth´s rethinking its intervention in this area. From 2003 until 2013 the Portuguese Institute for Youth/Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth promoted in partnership with other entities, simultaneously with the management of the National System for Youth Volunteering, the development of volunteer projects with special focus on the quality of training of young volunteers, the design and development of tasks, the framing of volunteers in task, aiming at the constant application of the principles that guide volunteering (namely complementarity, gratuity and responsibility). From event volunteering (Euro 2004, UEFA 2005, Centenary of the Republic, among others) to outreach and continuity volunteering (Youth Solidarity, Youth Volunteering for Nature and Forests, Messages and Company, among others), the projects involved thousands of young people as volunteers and as volunteer coordinators (participative management – of young people by young people). In 2011, during the European Year for Volunteering, in a study carried out for the National Council for the Promotion of Volunteering, by “Proact – Research and Technical Support Unit for Local Development, Valorisation of the Environment and the Fight against Social Exclusion”, it is noted that the lack of work and professional opportunities after completion of studies has “pushed (is the appropriate term, often) many young people into voluntary work, as a form of occupation and to feel useful, but also as complementary learning (linked to action) and/or (eventual) launch pad for the labour market. (…) youth unemployment has also contributed to reinforcing voluntary action in recent years, which, being a reason for adverse and (in principle) negative reasons for young people, cannot be ignored and should be considered in reflection, measures and support for voluntary work. Compared to previous studies, there has been a more than proportional increase in the youngest volunteers (the average age has decreased), although in general all age groups have increased, which is compatible with the factors analysed above. The Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth promotes three youth volunteering programmes: “Now Us” programme; “Youth Volunteering For Nature and Forests” programme and “International Work Camps” programme. The work done for more than a decade in the area of youth volunteering, the new motivations, interests and economic/social situation of young people as well as the European practices of promoting volunteering as a driver for acquiring non-formal or informal skills and the need to reduce obstacles to the mobility of young volunteers in Europe, led the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth to create and regulate a programme that frames youth volunteering activity, the “Now Us” programme.
Now Us Programme
The “Now Us” programme, regulated by Ordinance no. 242/2013 of 2 August, is aimed at entities that intend to promote voluntary actions at young people who intend, through participation, to acquire skills. It has as objectives:
- Stimulate and support youth volunteering practices in areas considered relevant to society;
- To develop formative processes with the volunteers;
- Disseminate the youth volunteering carried out in national territory;
- Create a register of entities promoting youth volunteering activities.
The areas of intervention are:
- Social Solidarity activities.
The launch of the “Now Us” programme platform, an IT platform that is a key instrument for the programme´s feasibility, meant that the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth took on a concept of youth volunteering that goes beyond sporadic promotion with greater or lesser seasonality, of projects aimed at a certain age group, betting on the continuity and quality of volunteer actions and on the openness to a greater and more continuous participation of young people. Without abandoning the basic concept of “ a set of actions of social and community interest carried out in a disinterested way by people, within the framework of projects, programmes and other forms of intervention at the service of individuals, families and the community developed without profit by public or private entities”, it is necessary to focus our efforts on the quality and promotion of volunteer projects aimed at young people, taking into account that youth volunteering is a form of intervention at the service of individuals, families and the community, but also at the service of the valorisation and personal development of young volunteers. In the framework of the “Now Us” programme, the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth develops the following youth volunteering actions: “Generation Z”; “Dating With Fair Play”; “Surfing The Internet Safely” and “Youth Volunteering 70 JÁ!”.
The “Generation Z” programme is a long-term youth volunteer action, managed by the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth, for private non-profit organisations and young people aged between 16 and 30. It has as objectives:
- Widening the scope of volunteering in the framework of the “Now Us” programme;
- Valuing interventions by and for young people;
- Create synergies with civil society and public entities through the preparation of voluntary activities;
- To contribute to a useful and effective intervention in the community;
- Powering the quality of voluntary activities and the acquisition of skills by volunteers;
- Valuing the recognition of non-formal education.
The areas of intervention are:
- Human rights;
- Civic participation;
- Prevention of dating violence;
- Prevention of aggressive behaviour (bullying);
- Gender equality;
- Cultural exchange;
- Intergenerational solidarity;
- Employment and entrepreneurship;
- Youth tourism;
- Social inclusion, with special attention to actions targeting young NEETs (neither in employment nor in education or training);
- Combating extremism and violent behaviour;
- Youth health;
Dating With Fair Play
The long-term action “Dating With Fair Play”, part of the “Now Us” programme, aims to mobilise young people to prevent violence in dating through peer education. It takes place in all five regions of the continent. Volunteers go to primary (3rd cycle), secondary and university schools or to municipalities and other third sector entities. Each entity must appoint a person in charge (teacher or association leader) to accompany the volunteers in carrying out a set of initiatives to be developed with the young participants. Volunteers in teams of two go three days a month to the places where the activities take place (in schools during the school term). Violence in intimate relationships often begins with dating between young people, and results in an unequal relationship in which one of the couple wants, through violence, to dominate and control the other person. The action has as its objectives:
- Promote the realisation of the right to equality and social inclusion of all young people, combating social exclusion from all forms of inequality and discrimination;
- Prevent the victimisation of young people and violence based on gender inequalities;
- Combat dating violence;
- Raise awareness of gender equality among young people;
- Eliminate gender stereotypes by promoting a culture of non-violence;
- Promote participatory citizenship.
The action is aimed at young people aged between 16 and 30. The participants are young people attending primary (3rd cycle), secondary and university education, as well as students integrating technical-vocational courses and others in the area of vocational training. The action has several programmed activities. In each edition, an awareness/training action is developed for volunteers that will contribute to increase their knowledge and skills in the following areas:
- Conflict management;
- Human rights;
- Youth rights;
- Gender equalities/inequalities;
- Violence (emotional/social, physical, sexual, domestic, gender, financial);
- Prevention of dating violence;
- Pursuit, design, management and monitoring of projects.
Volunteers will develop in schools or third sector entities a set of actions/workshops (solidarity, formative, sportive, artistic) to make the participants aware of equality and diversity, and to contribute to the change of violent behaviour in dating. This intervention culminates in the preparation of a project in the context of formal and non-formal education, aiming in a playful-pedagogical way, to encourage young people for an active and participative citizenship. Young volunteers are entitled to:
- General training of young volunteers;
- Specific training on the subject;
- Certificate of participation;
- Personal accident and liability insurance;
- Reimbursement of expenses.
Surfing The Internet Safely
The volunteer programme “Surfing The Internet Safely” is aimed at young people aged between 18 and 30 with knowledge of the use of new information technologies linked to the Internet. It aims to contribute to the development of responsible and safe use of the Internet by providing information sessions and awareness-raising activities for children, young people, parents/educators and citizens in general.
The beneficiaries of this programme must have the following requirements:
- Knowledge in information and communication technologies;
- Good communication skills;
- Ease of interpersonal relationship;
- Certificate of pedagogical skills (preferential);
- Enrolled in the youth volunteering platform “Now Us”;
- Previous participation in the “Safe Internet Day” and/or the “Surfing The Internet Safely” (preferential).
The types of presentation of the programme are the following:
- Information sessions;
- Awareness actions.
The information session is about 60 minutes long and consists of:
- Summary exhibition, supported by a multimedia presentation, on topics such as: fake news, cyberbullying, Internet of things, hate speech, online addiction, data protection, social networks and others;
- Clarification of doubts and execution of a small evaluation questionnaire with delivery of a gift and certificate of participation.
The information sessions can target groups of children and young people, from 6 to 25 years old (priority), and/or people over 60 years old. The specific training of the volunteers is ensured through self-training done through pedagogical resources available online and also in person or via skype. Young volunteers who carry out the action in a period of more than 3 hours and 30 minutes have a grant of 12 euros/day. Young people who do less than 3 hours and 30 minutes per day will be awarded a grant of 6 euros/half a day. Volunteers are entitled to personal accident and liability insurance, and the certificate of participation.
Youth Volunteering 70 JÁ!
The long-term action “Youth Volunteering 70 JÁ! – Youth Rights” is integrated in the “Now Us” programme and aims to make young people aware of Article 70 of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic. The action takes place in the five regions of the continent. Volunteers go to primary (3rd cycle), secondary and university schools or to municipalities and other third sector entities. Each entity must appoint a person in charge (teacher or association leader) to accompany the volunteers in carrying out a set of initiatives to be developed with the young participants. Volunteers, in teams of two, travel three days a month to the places where the activities take place. The action has as its objectives:
- Inform young people about their constitutional rights;
- Promote human rights;
- Emphasise the link between human rights and dignity;
- Promote convergence between formal and non-formal education through youth volunteering;
- Promote the rapprochement of young people with institutions, in particular those which are furthest removed from youth organisations and public bodies;
- Encourage voluntary work and citizenship among the most vulnerable young people.
The beneficiaries of this action are volunteers, young people aged between 18 and 30, with a minimum compulsory education, the 12th year of schooling. Preferably, young volunteers with university attendance linked to the areas of social and human sciences or law. The participants in this action are young people who attend the basic (3rd cycle), secondary and university education system, as well as students who integrate technical-vocational courses and others in the area of training. In each edition, an awareness-raising/training action is developed for young volunteers that will contribute to increase their knowledge and skills in different concepts:
- Human rights, in particular the rights of youth;
- Citizenship and fundamental rights;
- Sustainable Development Goals (SDS) and Agenda 2030;
- The rights and duties of young volunteers.
The young participants will develop in their schools a set of actions/workshops (solidarity, training, sports, arts), promoted by volunteers, which aim at contributing to inform the school community about human rights and in particular the rights of youth. Volunteers can use the contents of the site, as a pedagogical tool, as well as other materials produced for that purpose. This intervention culminates in the preparation of a project in the context of formal and non-formal education, aiming, in a playful-pedagogical way, to encourage young people for an active and participative citizenship. Young volunteers have the right to:
- General training of young volunteers;
- Specific training in the theme;
- Certificate of participation;
- Personal accident and civil responsibility insurance;
- Reimbursement of expenses.
Youth Volunteering For Nature and Forests
“Youth Volunteering For Nature and Forests” programme is another national youth volunteering programme promoted by the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth, This programme promotes practices in the field of nature protection, forests and their ecosystems, by raising awareness among the general public and preserving against forest fires and other disasters with an environmental impact, and by monitoring and restoring affected territories. The programme has as its objectives:
- Inventory and monitoring of animal and plant species at risk;
- Inventory, signage and maintenance of forest paths and access to water points;
- Recovery of footpaths;
- Cleaning and maintenance of leisure parks;
- Mobile surveillance, on foot or by bicycle, in areas defined by the local coordination bodies;
- Fixed surveillance at the guard posts;
- Inventory of areas in need of cleaning;
- Logistical support to forest fire prevention and detection centres;
- Inventory and monitoring of burnt forest areas;
- Reforestation activities;
- Activities to control invasive species;
- Other activities integrated in the areas of intervention of the programme.
The beneficiaries of this programme are residents of Portugal aged between 18 and 30 inclusive, who must be of good repute for volunteering in this programme. The entities that can apply for this programme are the following:
- Entities listed in the National Register of Non-Governmental Environmental Organisations and similar Organisations;
- Entities listed in the Register of Forest Producers ´Organisations;
- Youth Associations registered in the National Register of Youth Associations;
- Municipal Councils;
- Parish Councils;
- Other entities that pursue objectives covered by the intervention area of this programme, by order of the governing board of the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth.
International Work Camps
“International Work Camps” programme is another youth volunteering programme promoted by the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth. This programme aims to promote voluntary activities of a community, civil or social nature, carried out by a group of young people of several nationalities. They foster the development of a local community through tasks of a collective nature and enable young people to: cultural, linguistic learning and intercultural interaction. The programme´s areas of activity are the following:
- Restoration and enhancement of historical and cultural heritage;
- Others of recognized interest.
The beneficiaries of the programme are the promoters and the young people aged between 18 and 30 who live in Portugal. Short-Term Youth Volunteer projects
Several entities, such as youth associations, non-governmental organizations, private social solidarity institutions, sports associations and federations and other similar entities develop short-term projects involving young volunteers in several areas, such as: environment, health, culture, sports, social solidarity activities and other similar activities.
Data on youth volunteer programmes promoted by the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth
The Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth develops a diverse set of programmes in several thematic areas aimed at young people. Young people from different regions of the country have participated in several projects and initiatives. In 2013, 1672 young people participated in the several volunteer programmes promoted by the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth and 504 projects were developed. In 2014, 2391 young people participated, and 2011 projects were developed. In 2015, 1756 young people participated, and 279 projects were developed. In 2016, 1574 young people took part in the programmes, and 384 projects were carried out. In 2017, 3046 young people participated, and 727 projects were carried out. In 2018, 1818 young people took part in the programmes, and 207 projects were carried out. In 2019, 2826 young people participated, and 362 projects were developed. In 2020, until the month of August 1353 young people took part in the programmes and 380 projects were developed. These data allow us to conclude that 2017 was the year in which most young people participated in volunteer programmes (3046) and 2014 was the year in which most projects were carried out. On the other hand, 2016 was the year in which fewer young people participated in volunteer programmes (1574) and 2018 was the year in which fewer projects were carried out (207).
The funding of the several activities, programmes, projects and initiatives is determined annually by the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth, in accordance with the State Budget Law. Since 2013, there is an amount in the annual budget of the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth for youth expenditure.
- In 2017, the budget available was 209,427.77 Euros.
- In 2018, the budget available was 205,000.00 Euros.
- In 2019, the budget available to manage the programme was 261,760.00 Euros.
- In 2020, the budget available is 276,711.48 Euros.
Through the Resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 166/2017 of 2 November, the programme “Youth Volunteering for Nature and Forests” was created, which is managed by the Portuguese Institute for Youth and Sport. Since 2018 the funding of this programme is guaranteed by the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth as well as by the following entities: National Civil Protection Authority, Environmental Fund and Permanent Forest Fund.
In 2018, the budget available to manage the “Youth Volunteering for Nature and Forests” programme was 1,125,000.00 Euros, and the amount spent was 640,114.70 Euros. The budget of 1,125,000.00 Euros is guaranteed through the funding of 500,000.00 Euros of the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth, 125,000.00 Euros of the Environmental Fund, 250,000.00 Euros of the Permanent Forest Fund and 250,000.00 Euros of the National Authority of Civil Protection.
In 2019, the budget available was 569,021.00 Euros, of which 352,133.00 Euros were spent.
In 2020, until August, the budget available was 415,569.00 Euros, of which 400,000.00 Euros were spent.
The long-term action “Generation Z”, integrated in the “Now Us” programme, promoted by the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth, aims to stimulate the practice of youth volunteering, in different areas of intervention. Through this long-term action, the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth is able to support a diverse set of activities, which has a significant budget. In 2019, the budget available to manage the “Generation Z” programme was 178,760.00 Euros, and the amount spent was 177,630.00 Euros. In 2020, until August, the budget available was 179,795.00 Euros, of which 167,260.00 Euros were spent.
The Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth does not promote any programme in the area of youth volunteering that is the object of EU funding. All programmes in this area are funded from the budget of the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth. However, the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth promotes the “EJÁ!” programme, in the area of youth entrepreneurship, which has EU funding through the Operational Programme Social Inclusion and Employment/European Social Fund. The “EJÁ!” programme was created by the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth through Ordinance No. 308/2015 of September 25th, which establishes the model of the programme in support of NEET youth employability, and is regulated by regulation No. 1022/2016, of November 10th. The “EJÁ!” programme, which took place between 2016 and 2018, comprised the following strategic objectives: • Promotion of an entrepreneurial culture focused on creativity and innovation, through support for the development of projects aimed at setting up companies or social economy entities; • Support for the establishment of companies or social economy entities and the creation of jobs resulting from projects developed under the programme.
The budget available for the management of the programme was 4,865,712.51 Euros, of which 4,633,615.80 Euros were EU funding and 232,096.71 Euros were funding from the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth. The amount spent was 4,691,720.42 Euros, of which 4,519,153.74 Euros were EU funding and 172,566.68 Euros were funding from the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth.
The Erasmus+ funds are available for youth volunteering and are managed by the Erasmus+ Youth in Action National Agency.
The Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth assumes youth volunteering as an effective instrument of personal, social and formative development of young people, reflecting their free will to act in a disinterested, committed and altruistic way for the benefit of a community. As spaces for the acquisition of knowledge, voluntary activities are recognised and certified, so that this acquisition of knowledge can be legitimised by society as an added value for personal and curricular enrichment. According to data provided by the National Institute of Statistics for 2019, there are 8,863 young people in Portugal aged between 15 and 30, 4,128 men and 4,735 women. Of the 8,863 young people, 1,734 have higher education, 2,011 have secondary and post-secondary education and 5,117 have basic education (3rd cycle). The unemployment rate in Portugal among young people between 15 and 30 years old stands at 11.9%. The majority of young people who participate in the voluntary programmes promoted by the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth are between 15 and 30 years old, this being the age group that shows the most interest and dynamism in participating in the several voluntary youth programmes and initiatives.
The Portuguese legal framework for Volunteering (Law no. 71/98 of 3rd November) provides for the reimbursement of volunteers.
According to the law, the volunteer must ‘be reimbursed of urgent and duly justified amounts expensed in the exercise of an activity programmed by the promoter and up to a maximum amount established by that entity’. The same law also establishes the need for the entities to prepare their volunteers for the tasks they will be asked to perform (normally this takes the form of training).
Example: The young citizen is entitled to reimbursement for the expenses he makes until he reaches the destination where the tasks will be developed (e.g., bus ticket). Depending on the duration of the task, the volunteer may be entitled to a meal.
According to the volunteer programme in which young people participate, they are entitled to a refund ranging on average from 8 to 10 Euros per day. Volunteers, before starting tasks, acquire training, given by the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth, on the rights and duties of the volunteers and the promoting entity provides specific training on each task to be developed. Volunteers are entitled to a certificate of participation, a certificate of recognition of acquired skills (Youth Pass) and personal accident and liability insurance. The public financial support that the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth provides to youth organizations is also a way of support young volunteers who are engaged in YO, exercising their citizenship at local, regional and national level, in various fields of action (political activism, environment, solidarity, education, etc).
In order to implement the quality of the developed actions in the framework of the Now Us Programme (Agora Nós) and Youth Volunteering for Nature and Forests Programme (Vountariado jovem para a Natureza e Florestas), entities promoting these programmes must respect the following specific requirements:
- to have human resources necessary for the coordination of actions, preferably with a background in social psychology or other fields allowing team management;
- to have the resources and materials needed to perform the volunteers tasks;
- to present a document before the IPDJ, I.P., demonstrating the compliance with the specific requirements mentioned in the previous paragraph: an express and written declaration together with the resumes of those responsible for coordinating the actions.
A pre-assessment of the projects submitted is carried out by the staff of the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth in order to verify that they meet the requirements and criteria defined by the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth. The selection of young volunteers is carried out according to the regulations of each programme. The Board of Directors of the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth approves these projects according to the defined criteria. The Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth is developing a computer platform in which it intends to include questionnaires to be answered by young people who participate in the several volunteer programmes.
The IPDJ may audit, during the course of the projects, the compliance with what was previously declared in the application. The obligation of delivering a final report, which is the promoters’ responsibility, also enables the assessment of projects by the IPDJ. In case of non-compliance, the IPDJ can suspend the project or not approve future projects of that entity, under the ‘Now Us’ programme.
Depending on youth volunteering actions, volunteers are between 14 and 30 years old. Volunteers, before starting tasks, acquire training, given by the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth, on the rights and duties of the volunteers and the promoting entity provides specific training on each task to be developed. Volunteers are entitled to a certificate of participation, a certificate of recognition of acquired skills and personal accident and liability insurance. In the selection process of young volunteers, the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth takes into account the following criteria: geographical origin (rural areas, hinterlands, industrial or coastal areas), level of education, employment situation, gender and special needs. The aim of this process is that young people at risk of exclusion have the same opportunities as other young people.