Pilot Action Four Elements

Trainings of volunteers’ trainers and immigrants volunteers

On the 14th of December 2019, Four Elements, with the valuable contribution of the Hellenic Red Cross, implemented the trainings of volunteers’ trainers and immigrants volunteers. The trainings were conducted at the premises of “Impact Hub Athens”, a multifunctional open space in the center of the city, with the participation of more than 32 in total. The Hellenic Red Cross significantly contributed by directly contacting potential participants for both trainings.

The schedule of the day was planned in a way that could bring together trainers and immigrants volunteers, at least at some point of the process. As so, the day started with the training of the volunteers’ trainers, then a common session and light lunch of trainers and immigrants volunteers followed, with the training of the volunteers concluding the day. Before the start of each training, the staff of Four Elements presented the VAI Project, its objectives, outputs and results to participants, who also received printed copies of dissemination material and the Guides developed under WP2.

The training of the trainers of volunteers lasted for three hours, including two short breaks, and involving 10 participants. It consisted of three main parts, following the structure of the Guide for Training Immigrants-Volunteers and utilizing the tools provided in the Toolkit for Training Immigrants-Volunteers:

The first part started with some ice breaking activities, including self-introduction of participants and setting hopes and expectations for the training. Then, the trainer continued with an introduction on the training of volunteers, focusing on the training on immigrants and refugees. Participants shared their experiences on training diverse groups of volunteers and then were randomly divided into groups to study specific cases of training volunteers. The case studies, provided by the trainer, included cases of training volunteers belonging in vulnerable groups, dealing with personal or other problems, facing linguistic barriers, etc. Participants were asked to provide solutions on specific issues arising from the specificities of the training’s target group and then present their work and discuss their ideas with the other groups.

The second part of the training focused on the design and delivery of training to immigrants volunteers. Taking into consideration the results of the group activity that preceded, each group was given fifteen minutes to draw a draft training programme for immigrants volunteers. Then, the trainer elaborated on some basic methodologies and tools that can be used in such a context, as well as on potential components of the training, covering the phases before, during, and after the delivery of the training. The work groups presented their draft training programmes and, following a common brainstorming session, all participants contributed to the development of one, common training programme for immigrants volunteers.

The final part of the training of trainers was devoted in training and learning assessment, as a diagnostic, formative, and summative tool. Participants were introduced in different aspects of the assessment process, including learner assessment, training assessment, and self-assessment of trainers and trainees. Using the templates provided in the Toolkit, the trainer and the participants carried out a pilot assessment process for the current training, and then discussed on the methodology and tools used, highlighting its functionality and discussing on their application in practice.

After the conclusion of the trainers’ training and before the start of immigrants volunteers’ training, a common session for both groups was organized. During this short session and under the coordination of the trainer, both volunteer trainers and volunteers were encouraged to share their own experience, focusing especially on what motivated them to get involved with volunteering, either as a trainer or as a volunteer. At the beginning, participants, especially immigrants volunteers, were quite hesitant to talk about themselves but following the first inspiring stories shared, more people opened-up and facilitated a wide conversation on the true meaning of volunteering and its benefits not only for the society, but for individuals too. A common light lunch followed this session.

The training of immigrants volunteers that followed lasted, also, for three hours including two short breaks, and involving 22 participants. It was based on the contents of the Guide for Immigrants-Volunteers developed in the framework of the Project.

The training started with some get-to-know-each other activities, where participants had the opportunity to introduce themselves, and if wished so, share their personal story of migration, focusing on how it affected their motives to seek for a volunteering position. At this point, the motivating stories of immigrants volunteers that are included in the Guide were presented as a trigger.

Since all participants of the training were already active volunteers, the parts related to how someone can find a volunteer position were only briefly mentioned. More focus was put on the different fields of volunteering and different volunteering roles that someone can assume. A personalized questionnaire was shared with participants who by responding to simple questions could explore their interests and availability and identify the right opportunity for themselves. Then, a list of potential organizations that provide volunteering opportunities was presented and participants discussed on the right matching between their preferences and the open positions of these organizations.

The next part of the training aimed to familiarize immigrants volunteers with some main aspects of the Greek working/volunteering environment and its particularities that a third country national might be unaware of. The point of this session was not to “teach” or “train” immigrants on how to behave in the context of an organization in Greece, but rather to identify methods to efficiently incorporate diverse ways of thinking and working to a common structure that can successfully function and deliver the foreseen results.

The last part of the training introduced participants to the concepts of training and mentoring, as well as support and supervision. The importance of continuous training was highlighted by providing concrete examples on why and how training can substantially contribute to the improvement of not only the “volunteering skills” of an individual, but also on a personal level. Moreover, participants discussed on the benefits of mentoring, sharing their experience and recommending ways that this training strategy could become more effective. Given the fact that volunteers assume significant roles and being efficient is both their own and the organizations’ desire, a concrete support and supervision structure should be present. Through interactive activities, participants got acquainted with the idea of a supervisor not as someone who is there to judge or criticize them, but rather as someone to guide them and discuss with them ways to implement the assigned tasks.