As someone who works with volunteers, you will already have skills and experience that are incredibly valuable, and this handbook intends to enhance and ‘add value’ to the work you are already doing.
As all volunteers are unique with their own needs and interests, and likewise as each Volunteer Sending Agency is unique as an organisation as well as the specific nature of volunteer programmes, we encourage you to read this manual critically and adapt the exercises to your own respective situation.
As much as possible, this manual has been informed by the good work already going on in the sector, and many volunteer sending agencies have contributed activities that work well with their volunteers in relation to development education and continuous engagement. Volunteer Sending Agencies have been sharing resources and good practice in volunteer training within the peer support network through Comhlámh, in particular through the Volunteering and Development Education committee, and this training manual is a testament to some of this sharing and learning from each other. In particular, we would like to thank Nurture Africa who contributed their activities to this manual.
The focus of this manual is on the coming home phase of a volunteer programme; that does not take away from the importance of pre departure training, and there is a separate training manual specifically for this phase. However, as much as possible the activities in this training manual should be seen as complimentary and connected to the activities delivered with volunteers before they go overseas.
Volunteering can be seen as a continuum and the different phases are not separate from each other, but are part of the same continuum of learning. The training manual has been written using a development education approach, that is, using participative methodologies to engage in critical debate around the underlying causes of global injustice and poverty, and to identify the role volunteers can play within this, both overseas but also in their home country. I hope you enjoy your journey through the activities included within. We at Comhlámh welcome any feedback on how we can continue to be relevant to volunteers and volunteer sending agencies. If you have used or adapted any of the activities in the handbook with the groups of volunteers you work with, please do pass it on.