After many missions in Greece, Serbia and France we found one recurring issue: the absence of long-term volunteers on-site. On average volunteers stay one week, which means that the majority of the work is being done by well-meaning but inexperienced people.
We believe a long-term volunteer is the linchpin of truly successful aid. Ensuring efficiency, providing continuity and supporting likewise invaluable short-term volunteers to be as effective as possible during their time on-site.
Next to putting their lives on hold for such a long time, most long-term volunteers have to pay their own costs like housing and food, which makes their position unsustainable in the long run. After a while, savings simply run out. Consequently, key volunteers leave, their projects collapse, and refugees are left to deal with crisis situations without any help.
To support these long-term volunteers, we started the Grassroots Accelerator Program (initially called the Help a Hero! Program). We carefully select highly motivated and effective individuals, who bring lots of added value on the ground and commit to staying several months or longer. We match them with donors who fund some of their personal costs, to a maximum of €500/ per month, and support their projects. Additionally, we help these key volunteers grow their projects by, among others, connecting them to experts, providing advice & giving them access to templates e.g. concerning agreements with suppliers.
Often refugee volunteers participate in the work, too, helping out with translation services, cooking, being a liaison with other refugees, informing them. This gives the participating refugees a sense of purpose and an opportunity to develop themselves, whilst being of great importance to the long-term volunteers' work.
To sponsor one of our wonderful key long-term volunteers or to join our Grassroots Accelerator program please contact us.
Hope has been in and out of Thessaloniki for the past years whilst completing her Masters. She has 5+ years of experience in humanitarian projects, having worked in Bolivia, Nepal, and the UK. Now, with our support, she is working full-time as one of the co-founders and coordinators of Wave Thessaloniki. The Wave team serves over 10,000 hot meals per week and equip new arrivals with essential supplies like shoes, warm clothes, and hygiene items.
Working for different medical NGOs, Katie learned about the medical wellbeing and medical needs of the refugee population. This is why she founded Eudaimonia Medical Services - a non-profit organization that focuses on medical translation and logistics for diagnostic care. This has helped hundreds of refugees with complex medical diagnoses.
Noleen is a nurse with experience in emergency and paediatric intensive care. She has been a field coordinator with FAST in 2020 and now she is back in Calais. Refugees have limited access to healthcare and are often afraid to seek medical attention for illness and injury and this is where FAST steps in. FAST believes that everyone should have access to first aid, whatever their status, religion or other background they may have.
Leonie is the founder and project manager of Not Just a Refugee. She lives in Athens since 2015 and for Not Just A Refugee she arranges links and partnerships with other organisations and she is in charge of fundraising.