Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about volunteering at Europe Direct Information Centre of Komotini

[last update: 08.2019]

– How many Voluntary Groups (VGs) are there in your Centre? 

In the context of volunteering and shaping an active citizen for the society of the future, Europe Direct Information Center of Komotini developed the following groups  for the period 2019-2020:

  • VG on Mass Media Communication
  • VG on Social Issues Awareness
  • VG on Environment and Climate change
  • VG on Human Rights and Children’s Rights
  • VG on ICT and Social Media
– What is the theme of these groups and what fields of action have they chosen?

Each volunteer group has as its main goal the contribution to the society of the wider area. For this reason, the design of the topics and the fields of action have been carried out with special care.
More specifically:

  • The VG on Mass Media Communication organizes actions related to research and current affairs in Europe, through articles, radio and television broadcasts, and research.
  • The VGs on Social Issues Awareness and Human Rights and Children’s Rights plan actions (seminars, street actions, participation in events of other organizations, collaborations with organizations) that aim to raise awareness and inform the local community on social issues, such as social exclusion, human rights, minorities and the rights of the child.
  • The VG Environment and Climate Change organizes actions related to the promotion of sustainable development and ecological life.
  • The VG on ICT and Social Media manages the online presence of Europe Direct Komotini and disseminates the European news in all available communication channels.
– What is the profile of the volunteer? Gender, age, educational level?

The majority of the volunteers are students of the Democritus University of Thrace, mainly from the Departments of Law, Greek Literature, Social Administration, Social Work, and Political Science. Females predominate to a large extent and the age ranges between 19 and 21. However, the common denominator in the profile of each volunteer is the willingness to help those who need support to fight adversity and weakness, in order to ensure a better future for all.

– What exactly is the role of the Coordinator?

The role of the Coordinator is particularly important for the smooth operation and achievement of the goals of each group. Specifically, the Coordinator is the one who identifies the educational needs, evaluates the real contribution of the volunteers, provides the opportunity for the volunteers to improve, recognizes the points that Europe Direct Komotini needs improvement or change, expresses on the part of the volunteers’ various improvement proposals and ensures the integrity of the volunteering program through the proper implementation of the four stages of the Volunteer Management Cycle (1. Attracting and selecting volunteers, 2. Orienting and training volunteers, 3. Supervising and evaluating volunteers, 4. Rewarding and identification of volunteers)

– Is there a willingness to cooperate or does each team want to go its own way?

When the individual themes of the groups can be combined with each other, leading the work of these groups to a better result then not only is there the mood for cooperation but it is sought!

– Where is the hangout where we gather and where can one find us?

There is no hangout for volunteers. Anyone can visit us at the Europe Direct Information Center of Komotini in the beautiful neoclassical building where the Municipal Library of Komotini was housed, behind the Old Rector’s Office (15 N. Tsanakli Str.) or contact us via phone at +3025310 82051, 82055.

– What is our image for the presence of the not so well known voluntary organizations in our country?

Unfortunately, in our country, the field of volunteering has lagged behind the other countries of the European Union for many years. Evidence from various studies that have been done on the participation of Greeks in voluntary activities is heartbreaking and particularly worrying for the future of Greek society. 75% of the respondents stated that they do not actively participate in any organization while 37% is the degree of participation of young Greeks, aged 15-24 in voluntary activities – one of the lowest in the entire European Union. Of course, we should not forget the brilliant example of the 2004 Olympic Games which is a promise for the future of volunteering in our country since 160,000 were the official applications submitted for the volunteering program, a number that is an Olympic record!

– What is the corresponding picture in Thrace?

Judging by the number of voluntary organizations in the area, we are well on our way. However, we find it useful to organize relevant actions to better inform citizens and young people what exactly these organizations are doing and how they could contribute to their work. We are sure that through such contact will emerge nice ideas for the implementation of future actions which will mainly benefit the whole society. In any case, the goal is the cooperation of organizations that rely on a voluntary basis.

– It is customary to start something with appetite and passion and then to diminish the interest in the field of voluntary action. How is the continuous presence of the volunteer ensured?

Indeed, it is not uncommon for volunteer groups to stop operating while starting with such fervor and exemplary zeal. But you will not find this in the volunteer teams of Europe Direct Komotini because the volunteers due to their age are open-minded, easily absorb new ideas, are flexible, without prejudices and possessed by an endless and wonderful enthusiasm. At the same time, due to the realistic goals set by each group, the results of the volunteers’ efforts become visible, filling them with more confidence and an appetite for new, original initiatives.
A typical example of good practice is the VG on Environment and Climate Change, whose members created a training package on climate change using material from both the European Commission’s “Climate Change is Up to You” campaign and the “Climate Change in your hand!” campaign of the NGO WWF Hellas, designed a floor game for biodiversity and recycling, organized the action “The whole city by bike” in the context of the European Youth Week 2007 and met with the former Mayor of Komotini, Mr. Kotsaki, with whom they discussed ways to deal with stray animals, proposals for the implementation of a comprehensive recycling program and the creation of a biking path.

– Can volunteering be the answer to tackling citizens’ problems and deadlocks? Or is it ultimately a weak answer?

We believe that volunteering is the answer to tackling the problems and deadlocks of citizens and society as a whole. More specifically, volunteering is an element of good governance and development and is an important means by which people express their obligations as citizens, with the aim of creating and maintaining a stable and organized society. In other words, volunteering makes people act for the common wellness of society, creates bonds of trust, encourages cooperation, and effectively promotes social capital. In this context, volunteering helps to integrate into society people who have been left out and excluded. For example, people with disabilities who participate in volunteering change the negative stereotype that they are simply passive recipients of welfare.
In the same context, volunteering offers young people opportunities for personal development and at the same time provides them with a valuable ground for exercising their rights as citizens.
In addition, volunteering plays an important role in combating unemployment and promoting full employment, boosting the self-confidence of job seekers by giving them access to workplaces and giving them the opportunity to develop skills needed in the job market.
Finally, volunteering increases the quality of services provided by the state, as many of the tasks that people voluntarily undertake, such as counseling, the construction of a cultural center in a city, are valuable aids to the services the state machine can provide.

It is therefore clear that volunteering empowers individuals, promotes solidarity, encourages participation, strengthens social cohesion, contributes to finding solutions to important social issues, and protects the vulnerable from economic, social, and political marginalization.