Xarxanet interview Lluc Martí

At the beginning of December 2017 Xarxanet interviewed Lluc Martí, program coordinator at FCV:

For the FCV, volunteering is a powerful tool for training, empowerment and social change. They work to strengthen volunteering, especially in the youth field. We talk with FCV project manager.

  • What is the mission of your entity?

A year ago we made a process of reflection, and we defined that our mission is to favor active volunteering, non forma education and the culture of peace.

We believe there are many  types of volunteering, in the sense that there are many people who want to do a volunteer and do not have it easy, and many people who do not feel called. We understand that volunteering must be accesible and  all people should have the opportunity to do it. From our experience, we defend active volunteering. That is, participatory, where people can decide many elements of their volunteer activity, where, what and how they do it. It must also be inclusive, accessible to all people. And we also defend that volunteering must be formative: we believe it is key to developing competencies. And, therefore, an active volunteer that must be empowering of people. When we talk about giving value to volunteers, we think that the best way to do it is by empowering ourselves and giving them the ability to decide.

  • How the FCV was born?

It was born 10 years ago, right now we are celebrating the tenth anniversary. It emerged from a local youth initiative, called Barcelona Voluntària. It grew so much and promoted the realization of such important projects that it became a regional Foundation. They carried out many international volunteering actions, youth meetings, seminars, and the International Youth Volunteer Office was created. From Barcelona, ​​world conferences were organized in Panama, Singapore, Taiwan, Colombia, Lebanon… Now the office as such is closed but we are still members of the IAVE (International Association for Volunteer Effort).

  • What is the reality in Catalonia?

We can be happy for many things. Civil society and the third sector is very diverse and dynamic and acts in many areas and with a certain level of collaboration and networking, but we believe that some aspects should be improved. There is a lack of offer and information about volunteering, there are still people who are looking for opportunities and who do not find, and there are also many people who do not feel called by the sector.

We have collaborating entities in many countries in Europe and other regions, and we can see that in other areas there is a more widespread culture of volunteering. We think it is serious that there is little participation of young people, and even more serious to see that those who are engaged usually have a certain social and educational level above the average. Many people do not have access to the experience and learning that volunteering can entail. That’s why we work for the recognition of volunteering as ongoing training, and to enhance the incentives of volunteering.

  • What projects are you carrying out?

We have 3 programs, each of which has different projects. They are ‘Catalans around the world’, ‘Voices for peace’, and ‘Active Volunteers’. All three programs have a public advocacy component.

In the last two months we have been able to participate in the National Volunteer Conference in Lima, Peru, where we have defended active volunteering, in the European Volunteering Congress in Vienna, Austria, in the State Congress of Volunteering in Seville, Spain. We contributed to the preparation of the Catalan Law of Volunteering, and we have been part of the driving group of the last Catalan Congress of Volunteering and Associationism.

The FCV has been working for 17 years within the framework of community action programs of the European Commission, where objectives are focused on the development of skills of volunteers. A volunteer can improve skills and abilities during their volunteering, and that is what the European Voluntary Service has very well assumed. Translating into a certificate is always good, but the really decisive thing is that the entities must be aware of the impact on the learning of the person that volunteering can have if it is done in a structured way.

We know that each entity is a world, but the positive effects are transversal and beneficial for everybody who is involved, starting from organizations itselves. We defend this type of volunteering that is non formal and continuous on time. We plan to hold online workshops and resources for the entities to help them implement this volunteer model, which depends on very simple factors and which simplifyes the life for the entity.

We work mainly with young people, and with people who are active part  of entities. We give information sessions to people who want to be volunteer abroad, through the Erasmus + program of the European Commission, we organize exchanges of young people and courses for people involved in non-profit organizations, and we also organize training courses for leaders. We are members of the Youth Council of Barcelona-CJB, of the Catalan Social Volunteer Federation-FCVS, of the United Network of Young Peacebuilders-UNOY, based in The Hague, Netherlands, of the International Association for Volunteer Effort-IAVE, and the Peacebag for Euromed Youth, an informal network of 15 entities of 11 countries around the Mediterranean.

  • What difficulties do you have to face?

We have the same problems as other entities, such as lack of resources, which makes it difficult to make long-term projects with greater impact and the creation of stable teams. The uncertainty that affects the society we end up receiving also the entities. We also realize the difficulty of making changes, and the low value that the training processes have within the entities, generally speaking.

  • How many volunteers do you have now and what role do they play in your organization?

The foundation works with 7 people, of which 5 are volunteers and there are only 2 technicians. Other volunteers, around 25, collaborate with a dedication of a few hours a week. They are usually young people from different countries, right now from Poland, Romania and Turkey, through the European Voluntary Service. Besides that, we support 40 people a year in volunteering experiences through the European Voluntary Service. In this case, they are people who go to a first experience of volunteering.

  • What is the profile of their volunteering?

Especially young people: those who come to work with us have some experience in the third sector in their country, we have many candidates. On the other hand, young people who go abroad often start volunteering. We try to facilitate access to volunteering for young people of all kinds, also those who have more difficulty accessing such an experience.

  • What was a special moment in your career?

2 weeks ago we made the party of 10 years that was a very beautiful event. But perhaps I would stay with the last seminar we organized on November, on Volunteering for Change, we were able to gather people who work in similar fields and for a week we were learning from each other. In coherence with the title of the seminar we work for change, using new methodologies, new forms of organization to facilitate the intervention of all. We were 22 people, 18 of which came from voluntary-based youth entities from 2 different countries: Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Estonia, Greece, Romania … We believe that it is a concept, we must promote it a lot: you can not aspire to change society if you do not understand that you have to change yourself on an individual scale and as part of an organization.

  • How do you think your entity will be in 10 years?

I Imagine that everything will be more virtual, with technological changes , but there are things that we will continue to do the same, such as offering volunteer opportunities. And we will make new ones that will appear according to what society demands. We understand that there will be changes in the educational systems in content and methodology, and that there will be a stronger link between the work and the education system. We hope that a time will come when young people will ask themselves not only “what I want to study” and “where I want to work”, but also “where I want to be a volunteer”.

I would even like to see in 10 years a right to volunteer: as there is the right of assembly, association, to participate in matters of public interest, there maybe a right to volunteer. That people can do and choose volunteering demonstrates the degree of democratic quality and civic participation of society. We can not settle, and more seeing as in other countries people have many opportunities to do many different types of volunteering, and have many more incentives and recognitions that do not exist here, from recognition as training, points at the same time to access jobs public, to discounts in services or tax incentives.