What Does Victim Support Europe Do to Make Our Volunteers Happy

19 Feb, 2019

Léa Meindre-Chautrand | VSE Policy Officer

The team of Victim Support Europe is working hard to inspire, train and care for our volunteers. Recently, we have developed a brand new volunteering policy to improve the growing relationship with our existing volunteers and to involve more people who care about victims of crime!

We will inspire the volunteers! We will share our knowledge with them! We will celebrate their success and recognize dedication! They deserve it!

Today we talk with Léa Meindre-Chautrand, Policy Officer at VSE, who has recently finalised VSE’s new volunteering policy.

“People who are passionate about victims’ issues, who give up their spare time to help our not-for-profit organisation are irreplaceable”, says Léa. “Victim Support Europe greatly appreciates all of the volunteers who donate their energy to our organization. We are currently propped up by two volunteers: An Verelst from Belgium and Pamela Dalby from Scotland. Their contributions help to support us in a variety of roles: from proof reading the important papers to supporting our policy work and research on compensation for victims of crime and victims of terrorism in Belgium, Europe and internationally”.

“The volunteers help VSE power through the to-do list and deliver innovative ideas to members. They help keep VSE’s work relevant to victim support organisations and victims of crime throughout Europe by bringing a range of expertise, backgrounds and experience into the organisation”, says Léa.

“Volunteers come to us for different reasons. They’ve learned different skills from different backgrounds and have different motivations, making their contributions unique. Since we want these busy professionals bring their acumen to our organisation, we have to understand them”.

An Verelst, VSE’s Volunteer from Belgium

An Verelst, VSE Volunteer

“For instance, An Verelst, is a clinical psychologist, researcher, victim specialist, and project manager. An worked as a trauma psychologist in war-affected regions in Northern Uganda and Eastern Congo. In Eastern Congo she managed a victim support NGO and carried out a large scale quantitative and qualitative study on the psychosocial consequences of sexual violence during and after the armed conflict. During this research project she acquired the necessary skills to carry out qualitative and trauma-sensitive interviews and participatory action research with vulnerable victims. From 2015 until 2018, she worked as policy officer and Deputy director of Victim Support Europe, among others on the issue of Compensation for victims of violent crime. Currently, An works as a coordinator of the Refugees Well School project for Ghent University and volunteers at V-Europe and Victim Support Europe. As a volunteer for VSE she works on improving support and compensation for victims of terrorism in Belgium, Europe and internationally, with governmental and non-governmental stakeholders.

Pamela Dalby, VSE’s Volunteer from Scotland

Pamela Dalby, VSE Volunteer

As for Pamela Dalby, she is a global nomad and has lived, worked, and travelled in some 60 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. With a background in customer service administration, Pam has been involved with education and training for over 20 years. She started teaching English as a second language to students in 1995, having moved from Scotland to Micronesia where she was recruited by the Community College of Micronesia. Pam and family then moved to Warsaw where, as leader of the International Women’s Group, she honed her networking skills. Her next move was to Brussels in 2002 where she returned to English teaching with the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. In addition, she mentored PhD students as well as providing a series of annual communication-based seminars: writing, presentations, public speaking, etc. Pam was head-hunted by Boston University’s Brussels-based program in 2008, on the basis of her networking experience. She worked for the BU graduate program till the end of 2013 and was involved in recruiting students as well as providing seminars and workshops across Europe and the Middle East. Since returning to Scotland in early 2014, Pam currently works as a part-time exam invigilator for the University of the Highlands & Islands, as an ad hoc consultant for CNG Services Ltd. and is part-time program manager for Boston University’s Study Abroad Brussels (summer) program. In addition, Pam now volunteers with VSE as a proof-reader in her spare time”.

VSE’s new volunteering policy

“Here are five of the top motivations that are indicated in our new volunteering policy that will hopefully drive professional volunteering and make each type of volunteer feel appreciated”, concludes Léa.

1. The rights of volunteers
As VSE’s Head Office is based in Belgium, VSE observes the applicable laws of Belgium. In Belgium, the status of volunteers is governed by the law of 3 July 2005 on the rights of volunteers (in French).

2. VSE’s commitment to volunteering
VSE is committed to involving volunteers in appropriate positions and in ways which are encouraging, supportive and which develop volunteering.
Volunteering is a legitimate and crucial activity that is supported and encouraged by the organisation and is not intended to be a substitute for paid employment. The role of volunteers complements but does not replace the role of paid staff.

3. VSE’s responsibilities towards volunteers:
– Ensure volunteers have a good understanding of what VSE is and does and be provided with timely and accurate information about VSE work, policies and procedures;
– Provide appropriate induction, training, support, and supervision to volunteers;
– Provide reimbursement of appropriate expenses associated with volunteering;
– Match the needs of VSE with the skills, knowledge, experience, time and motivation of the volunteer;
– Ensure paid staff are trained to work with volunteers;
– Value and thank properly volunteers;
– Ensure volunteers know who to talk to if there are problems and have complaints resolved fairly;
– Ensure the health and safety of volunteers whilst undertaking their volunteering activities.

4. Training and supervision
All volunteers will be provided with mandatory induction training, which shall include information about the organisation and victim support in general. The supervisor shall dedicate an appropriate amount of time to support the volunteer, respect and listen to the volunteer, provide essential reading materials, celebrate success and recognise dedication, and encourage a positive and friendly atmosphere.

5. Task description
VSE will provide volunteers a clear and concise task description, which will be subsequently reviewed when necessary.

6. Insurance, health and safety
Volunteers are covered by the assurance volontariat provided by the Service public francophone bruxellois, as established by article 6 of the Belgian Law related to volunteers.

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