Under the current circumstances and what the last year has put humanity through, the value of love, sharing and caring has gained a new meaning. This Valentine’s month, we take our love one step beyond family and friends – towards caring and sharing, perhaps, as volunteers. Have a look at ‘benevol Schweiz’ – a network of 17 specialist volunteer offices in the German-speaking part of Switzerland.
When you live in Switzerland long enough, you realize how the system really ticks along to keep all social sectors and events moving in tandem. A closer look reveals how each community relies on its strong network of regional volunteers in a professional and organised way – whether it pertains to organisation of a local festival, a community event, a fete or fair, or a sports ‘grümpi’ event.
‘benevol Schweiz’ offers professional services and is the point of contact for all questions concerning volunteering and voluntary work. It is the umbrella organisation of the regional offices for volunteering in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. It’s tasks include networking and communication between the regional specialist and placement offices. Over 2000 organisations in Switzerland are members of ‘benevol’ through memberships.
Business Director, Thomas Hauser, tells us more:
“We are the competence centres for all questions concerning volunteer and associations-related work. We try and offer an ideal framework of conditions for effective and meaningful volunteer work to all those who volunteer or intend to do so. We also advise and support organisations that work with volunteers.”
He reveals some solid facts:
“From a small population of 8.7 million, around 3 million people in Switzerland volunteer, contributing over 700 million working hours per year towards social betterment. Voluntary commitment is the essential foundation of Swiss society that contributes to the high quality of life in Switzerland.”
As mentioned before, around 2,000 organisations, mainly associations, are linked to ‘benevol’ through memberships. With its specific and high standards, ‘benevol’ defines how volunteering can function meaningfully and effectively and offers working aids and numerous documents for effective volunteer management.
Every year, the ‘benevol’ offices and their platform, benevol-jobs.ch, place thousands of volunteers for assignments in the areas of social affairs, culture, sport, nature and environment, sustainable consumption and others. Numerous courses for volunteers, volunteer managers and for club boards enable volunteers and organisations to work in the multifaceted areas of volunteering. ‘benevol’ publishes the ‘Dossier freiwillig engagiert’, which is a proof of volunteer work that not only confirms the extent of volunteer involvement, but also the skills that volunteers have acquired or demonstrated.
Volunteers in Switzerland have been indispensable
“Volunteer work is an indispensable contribution to fellow human beings and the environment. It is an important part of social integration and solidarity in our society. There is hardly any area of life in Switzerland, which is disconnected from volunteer work. Especially, through the extraordinary situation of the Covid 19 pandemic. The pandemic has shown how systemically relevant volunteer work is for the functioning of Switzerland. Shopping, driving and visiting services by volunteers have provided important support to many people during the lockdown,” says Hauser.
Do you want to share your skills and abilities for a social cause within your area?
Says Hauser, “There is a wide range of opportunities for volunteer work and you can get a gist of this on benevol-jobs.ch – just search by region and area of work. There are currently over 1,100 job opportunities, for example, the Zurich Oberland Disabled Sports Group is looking for a new president. Translators for migrants are being sought. The Hippotherapy Centre is looking for horse drivers, the Pro Senectute Seniors for the classroom, the WWF Zurich is looking for a cashier, a centre for the elderly is looking for fitness trainers, a work integration programme for voluntary mentors. The nice thing about volunteering is that there are opportunities for work in almost every area and that you can find activities that have nothing to do with everyday work. But it is very important to us that volunteering does not compete with paid work in any way. You can find a ‘benevol’ centre near you. Just ask. We are happy to be there for you.”
Lending a bold touch of warmth and humanity
He concludes, “While in the past the motivation for volunteers was often based on altruism or even on the desire to ‘repent’, today, fortunately, things are quite different. The most common motive in volunteer work is “having fun”, which is very important, because it should be fun if you don’t ‘have to’, but ‘want to’. Contact with like-minded people is also important for many people. Getting together with good people to get a meaningful cause moving makes you happy. Volunteering provides an ideal training place where you can acquire new skills and quickly develop leadership qualities. And a lesser-known fact is that volunteering makes a very positive addition to any CV.
Many sporting or cultural events can only be organised through volunteering. Especially in the social and in the care sector, employees hardly have any time for interpersonal relationships, which makes it all the more important that these social and humane needs are met by volunteers, instead.
I, on my part, have volunteered to go grocery shopping for some of the elderly people in my village, on a fixed day, every week. How about you?
Disclaimer: Written in good faith, we do not undertake any financial/reputational impact or other obligations/liabilities that may arise from the content.