About VAI

The “Volunteering among immigrants” (VAI) project points out that immigrant volunteering can be both an instrument for and an indicator of integration. Many states of the European Union have already recognised the potential of volunteering as instrument for integration and as a consequence, have endeavoured to introduce measures to promote immigrant volunteering. Migration, integration & volunteering are subject to considerable public & political debate in the European Union. The VAI project aimes to link these debates under the working question:

“How can volunteering among immigrants be better used in order to increase the participation of third country nationals in society?”

The VAI project is set up by 10 partners from Academia, Civil Society, Local Government & Media, to explore innovative actions to the topic of the “social integration” and “active participation” of third country nationals (TCNs) – focusing on volunteering as an instrument. Coordinator of the project is Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (GR). Further co-applicants are the University of Calabria (IT), Leibniz University Hannover (DE), Hellenic Red Cross (GR), 4Elements (GR), Piraeus Municipality (GR), Cidis Onlus (IT), Verein Multikulturell (AT), Initiative Minderheiten (AT), FREIRAD (AT). Learn more about our Partner organisations…

Our project partners address the motives and the different contexts of migrant volunteering, including TCNs’ concepts of and attitude towards volunteering. The partners will furthermore develop guidelines how volunteering can contribute to the better integration of migrants who are third-country nationals, and the better integration of the societies of which they are part of. They also organize pilot actions that facilitate these activities. Finally, a european network of national contacts and new initiatives in the field of migrant volunteering will be established allowing increased transnational dialogue between stakeholders – supported by a virtual platform.

At the end the partners of the VAI project will hold an International Conference to discuss the consequences of migrant volunteerism, as well as the pilot actions conducted by them during VAI’s life. Recommendations will be formulated to different actors, such as decision makers from government and voluntary organisations both from “migrant” sectors and the “mainstream” sector, concerning actions which can take place at different level: european, national/regional and local level.

Our general objectives

VAI project aims at promoting new arrangements of volunteering among immigrants, negotiated by removing obstacles and by building on facilitators of societal integration. It also aims at strengthening networks and exchange of knowledge in the field of migrant volunteering, especially on a transnational European level. This shall be achieved through various channels:

  • Promoting the development and implementation of innovative actions to increase third country nationals’ (TCN) participation in the volunteering sector
  • Building up contacts between the host country population & migrants through setting up guidelines to involve immigrants in volunteering schemes
  • Improving acceptance of TCNs within the host country Population
  • Strengthening the identity of TCNs
  • Facilitating migrants’ potential for self-help
  • Introducing local services and opportunities
  • Development of volunteering opportunities for immigrants through pilot actions and by promoting the different stakeholders to explicitly use an empowerment approach and value immigrants’ unique skills, for example as intercultural mediators
  • Fostering knowledge and experience sharing and capacity building on successful action to increase third country nationals’ participation in society, with a particular focus on the volunteering sector and representation frameworks.

Learn more about our planned activities…