Vlaams Steunpunt Vrijwilligerswerk vzw
Amerikalei 164 B1
Tel: +32 3 218 59 01
Fax: +32 3 218 45 23
The “Vlaams Steunpunt Vrijwilligerswerk vzw” (formerly known as the ‘Platform voor Voluntariaat’) is the Flemish Centre for voluntary work. The organisation is open to all volunteer organisations, whatever their field of activity (welfare, education, health, the environment or sport). It forms a bridge between voluntary workers and organisations employing volunteers, and forms a bridge between organisations and policy-makers. It has several tasks:
We work to bring together those who wish to do voluntary work and the organisations that need them, as people are often unsure as to how to get in touch with a suitable organisation, and organisations do not know where to find motivated volunteers. For this reason, we created a website www.vrijwilligerswerk.be, together with the “Provinciale Steunpunten:” regional offices in each of the Flemish provinces. The website consists of two major parts. On the one hand, we provide information about volunteering, for organisations as well as for volunteers. On the other, we offer a database with available volunteer vacancies.
We aim to obtain favourable regulations for volunteers from the Belgian government, because our main aim is to make voluntary work possible for everyone. Our organisation follows up attempts of policy-makers to vote on the proposal to create a law concerning ‘the rights for volunteers,’ by stressing the importance of such a law and by making recommendations about the content itself. It is still today, difficult for some groups of people to volunteer, for example the unemployed who need to have permission from the unemployment welfare fund to be able to volunteer. Sometimes permission for the same job may be given in one region and refused in another! Another big issue is that of insurance, which is rather expensive for some organisations. We believe it is important that organisations have insurance for volunteers in case of accidents.
Our guideline is that each volunteer must be treated in the same way, whatever the nature of the voluntary activity and whatever the organisation (large or small, many or few resources). Another issue is the payment of volunteers’ expenses. Volunteers sometimes need funds to be able to do their job (for example in the case of transport). We do not believe volunteers should have to spend their own money. They should be able to do the job they want to do. We try to ensure that no one is excluded due to a lack of money. Good understanding between organisations and volunteers is also important to us.
We are able to answer questions from volunteers, give advice to organisations, and supply information about the rights and obligations of volunteers and organisations, and legal matters as well as to support organisations in building up good and practical tools through which they can implement a good volunteer policy. Although it’s not our major task, we also respond to demands to give lectures on voluntary action to organisations, for example how to go about finding and keeping volunteers, how to work with them, and regulations concerning voluntary work.
We try to remind volunteers that they are members of a group, working together towards an important goal. Our aim is to increase public awareness about voluntary work, and to ensure it is respected and appreciated. We advertise to try to familiarise society at large with volunteer work, a crucial and often overlooked matter. To this end, we issue our own magazine tACTIEF containing articles on volunteering. In addition, every year in Belgium, during the first week of March, there is the “Week of the Volunteer”, during which time we try to gain as much attention from the press, media and politicians as possible.
We also launch common projects. We received funds from the Belgian King Boudouin Foundation to organise a ‘study project’ with a pilot group which will examine challenges and perspectives on volunteer work for the future. With the ‘Provinciale Steunpunten’ we are working on a project concerning ‘recruitment.’ A similar project will soon start within the sports sector.