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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Ukraine Crisis Response

2. General

3. Covid-19

4. Applying to volunteer

5. Before and during a volunteering placement

6. Logistics 

1. Ukraine Crisis Response

How can I volunteer along the Ukrainian border?

Thank you for your willingness to help out! We have currently sent our team to the Ukrainian border, to find safe ways for volunteers to get involved - see updates here. Right now, we advise international volunteers not to travel to Poland independently as a thorough contextual understanding is critical.

To be directly informed about volunteer opportunities with Ukrainian refugees, please
sign up here.

 

In the meantime,

Where can I donate essential items?

Thank you for your willingness to help out! We sent our team to the Ukrainian border who spoke to local and international organisations working along the Polish-Ukrainian border - see updates here. As we have sadly seen aid pilling up at the roadside at the Polish border, we strongly advise aid is collected in coordination with organisations on the ground. You can stay updated on aid needs through the Frontline.live map or by following Sunflower Relief for updates on needed supplies.


To be directly informed about reliable organisations to donate essential items to, please sign up here.  

In the meantime,

 

2. General

Why are volunteers needed?

Volunteers are at the heart of the grassroots movement. Our partner organisations fill gaps left by governments - there remain huge gaps in services and support for displaced people that are being met by civil society in a compassionate way. Without individuals willing to dedicate their time to help, our partner organisations would not be able to provide essential services to support the refugee and migrant communities.

 

Why should I apply through Indigo instead of reaching out to charities directly?

Indigo has an overview of the volunteer needs of our network across Europe. We can therefore connect you with organisations who are suitable for you based on your skills, previous experience and time frame. This also means you will be connected with an organisation where your skills will be truly needed - all at no cost.

What kind of work do your partners do?

Our partners all provide integral services to support the needs of the refugee and migrant communities across Europe. Their work ranges from providing non-formal education to children and adults, to food distribution and delivering  urgent medical services. For more information, please visit Our Partners page.

 

Are there any hidden costs?

Our service for all our volunteers and partner organisations is completely fee-free. Volunteers are expected to cover their travel, accommodation, and day-to-day costs on their own.

3. Covid-19
 
How has Covid-19  affected volunteering placements?
  • In order to maintain responsible volunteering, Indigo continues to only connect volunteers when there is a need. Due to the Covid-19 situation many of our partners have had to pause / alter operations and therefore require fewer volunteers. While we continue to welcome applications from committed and skilled volunteers please be mindful that we cannot guarantee a placement during the pandemic. 

  • Our partners' minimum time to volunteer has been extended in order to mitigate the risks that occur with a high turnover of volunteers. The minimum time to volunteer is now four weeks, and we encourage volunteers to stay for longer if possible. 

  • We have worked closely with our partners on risk mitigation and assessments - all organisations are following national regulations of the host country. All international volunteers are expected to follow the procedures of the organisation they are volunteering at


For more information on what to consider before applying to volunteer during Covid019, read here.

4. Applying to volunteer

 
Why does Indigo not accept all volunteer applications?

To maintain responsible volunteering, Indigo only connects volunteers when their skill set matches our partner's needs. A ‘skill set’  that our partners are looking for is an understanding  of the situations in which our partners operate and what being a ‘responsible’ volunteer means in these contexts. We require applications to show this because -  whilst we know that volunteers are most often caring individuals driven by the best intentions - our partners' needs and the communities they support, must always be placed first. 

Here are some ways you can stay involved and learn more.

 

  1. Education: Visit our ‘Learning Resources’ page where you can find  resources about the European migration route,  responsible volunteering and much more. It is a great place to get started :)

  2. Take action at home: Follow our friends at Europe Must Act and continue to take action in your local community. If you live in the UK, you could also organise a collection - visit the donations drop-off points on our website to find out where you can donate. 

  3. Stay connected with us: Follow us on social media and sign up to our newsletter here.

 

How do I apply?

Before you submit an application form, we recommend you do the following steps: 

  1. Our Trainings page & Learning Resources page have useful resources to find out more about the refugee context. Before applying it’s important you do your research. 

  2. Read through these FAQs.

  3. Review the current volunteer needs.

  4. If there is a suitable position for you, apply to volunteer. In case your skills are currently not needed, keep checking the website and sign up to our newsletter here.


 

What happens after I apply?

After you apply, Indigo starts searching for organisations you may be able to support. When possible, we try to connect volunteers with 1 to 3 host organisations. ​

  1. The connection We introduce you to the organisation(s) that fit your availability and skills. We may match you to a role different to what you indicated interest in if it's a better match.

  2. Speaking to the organisation Learn more about the organisation before accepting a role. You can even ask to speak to a previous volunteer to get a better understanding of what to expect.

  3. Is it a match? If you do not feel an organisation is right for you, please let us know so we can explore other options.

  4. Confirm your placement If you find a suitable organisation, please confirm and accept your placement with both Indigo and the project coordinator.

What information will you ask for in the application process?

We will ask you to provide us with various contact details, available volunteering dates, any health-related needs,to agree to obtain a visa independently, and other relevant declarations (i.e. a liability waiver). In addition to this, we will also ask you to give us an insight into what you know about the refugee context, any relevant experience, skills, and knowledge that you think you could bring to our partners.

 

It is important you provide us with as much information as possible, as this will be shared with the organisations themselves.

Do I need to be from Europe to apply?

You don’t need to be from Europe to apply, although if you are applying from outside of Europe, we would encourage you to consider the environmental implications of long distance travelling. 


Additionally, if you are residing outside of Europe you are likely to require a VISA - Please be informed that Indigo or any of our partners cannot provide any support with obtaining a VISA.

How can I get a VISA?

If you require a visa, you will have to source this independently.  Please find out your volunteering locations’ specific entry requirements for residents of your home country. This is really important as Indigo and our partners will not be able to help at all in any visa proceedings.

How old do I need to be to volunteer?

The minimum age to volunteer with our partners is 18 years old, although that may be higher for certain partner projects. 

 

There is no maximum age to volunteer!

What experience/qualifications are most useful to the grassroots sector?

All experiences and backgrounds are needed!

 

Our partners run a diverse range of projects and therefore need volunteers of the same diversity. 

  • Qualifications are often needed for roles such as teachers, medical and legal staff, and psychosocial support. 

  • Training is often provided so many partners don’t require specific skills or qualifications. Even your hobbies may often be what an organisation is looking for: crafts, sewing, gardening are sought out at times, music.

 

Have a look at the volunteer roles currently open here.

What is the minimum time I can volunteer?

We can only place volunteers who have availability for a minimum of 4 weeks. Nonetheless, most of our partners' projects require volunteers for 2,3 months. This is because a long term placement is less disruptive to a projects flow and can create sustainable practices.

 

Long term placements are especially needed when volunteering with children. 


We recommend watching this TedTalk to better understand the reasoning behind long term volunteering.

Is there anything I need to consider in light of Brexit?

If you are a UK passport holder please read our blog on how Brexit will affect you when volunteering abroad.

 
5. Before and during a volunteering placement
It is my first time volunteering. How can I best prepare myself?

Welcome to the wonderful world of volunteering! It is important to take ownership over your own learning in order to provide as much support to the partner you will be volunteering for. A great starting point is our Trainings page & Learning Resources page - the content there can give you guidance on what knowledge gaps you may have and on what topics to explore further.

Can I take pictures or film while I’m working as a volunteer?

Most of the organisations that we support do not allow volunteers to take pictures during/of work for various reasons:

  1. It can make the communities we work with more vulnerable through exposure (depending on where a picture might end up).

  2. It can create counterproductive social dynamics based on which parts of a community do end up in a picture and which don't.

 

We also encourage you to always think about the reasoning behind a picture. For example, is it purely for posting on social media or was the film taken to raise awareness?  It is always important to think about the intention behind posting a picture and the impact that posting a picture can have. Some organisations may make exceptions and there might be certain circumstances where, if you're interested, you might be asked to help with photography for advocacy reasons. However, please do note that these opportunities are usually very limited.

Will I be inside the camp every day?

The majority of our partners operate outside the camps. In countries like Greece, to a big extent this is due to legal limitations that prohibit organisations from entering camps freely. 

 

For this reason it is likely that you will not be working inside a camp. That does not mean nonetheless that the volunteer work you will be doing will not be important. All our partners exist to cover gaps left by national institutions and governing bodies, therefore every role and activity is crucial in not leaving displaced populations unsupported.

6. Logistics
 
What kinds of costs am I looking at?

The volunteer is expected to independently fund their placement, covering costs such as airfares, accommodation and general living costs i.e. that of meals. For a general gauge, please visit our partners page and click on the respective organisation for further information.

Is accommodation provided?

Many of our partners do not provide cost-free accommodation. Some projects may offer volunteer housing at a subsidised price or they will recommend to you accommodation previous volunteers have stayed at. Depending on the project, there may be special conditions for long-term volunteers (1+ month). We suggest you do not book accommodation before you know which project you will be supporting.

Do I need insurance to volunteer?

You must have the correct insurance to travel and volunteer in any country.  It is strongly recommended that your insurance provider covers volunteering abroad and not just travelling abroad so that you are fully covered.