Volunteer Charter

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The Volunteer Charter has been drawn up by Comhlámh, the Irish Association of Development Workers. Comhlámh has over 30 years experience of engaging with overseas volunteers and development workers.

It was drawn up through extensive consultations with the three main groups involved in volunteer placements: volunteers, sending organisations, and host projects. The Charter is a guide for people who are going to volunteer overseas in developing countries. It sets out seven principles that aim to encourage responsible, responsive international volunteering. Each of these principles contains a list of questions to help you make sure that you have thought about the issues raised, and to ensure that you know why they are important. By agreeing to sign the Charter volunteers will be showing their support for the principles it sets out. As a volunteer, your attitude to your placement and to your host project and community will be crucial to the success of the work you will be involved with. Your support will help to ensure a spirit of partnership, solidarity and respect between you, your sending organisation, and the host project and community with which you volunteer.


Who developed it?

The Charter has been drawn up by Comhlámh, the Irish Association of Development Workers and Volunteers. Comhlámh has over 35 years’ experience of engaging with overseas volunteers and development workers.   Volunteer-Charter-13

How was it developed?

Through extensive consultations with the three main groups involved in volunteer placements: volunteers, sending agencies, and host projects.

Why has it been drawn up?

Over the past decade, there has been a growing interest among Irish people in volunteering in developing countries. More and more people are going overseas as volunteers, sometimes for very short periods. Although there can be many differences between the work done on short-term and long-term volunteering placements, all international volunteers will be engaging with the same broader issues. These include having realistic expectations about what volunteering can achieve, and adopting the role of learner and guest while overseas. The Charter encourages people to think about these issues and to place their volunteering experiences within the wider context of global development. By doing so, it aims to contribute to the improvement of the volunteering experiences of international volunteers, and ultimately to the quality of life for host communities affected by volunteering. It does not replace sending agencies’ and host projects’ specific guidelines and rules for volunteers, but rather complements them.


 What about the responsibilities of sending agencies?

A Code of Good Practice for Volunteer Sending Agencies has also been developed. This sets out the responsibilities of organisation that arrange volunteer placements, including some of the steps they take to support the Volunteer Charter. Organisations that have signed up to the Code will be willing to provide copies of this Charter to volunteers, and to discuss the Code in exchange.

Why should volunteers support the Charter?

By agreeing to sign the Charter, you will be showing your support for the principles it sets out. As a volunteer, your attitude to your placement and to your host project and community will be crucial to the success of the work you will be involved with. Your support will help to ensure a spirit of partnership, solidarity and respect between you, your sending agency, and the host project and community with which you volunteer.

 

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