After one and a half years of adjusting to the global Covid-19 pandemic, it seems that Europe is slowly settling into a new normal. Vaccination rates are rising, hygiene protocols have become a well-established staple of public life, and travelling abroad has become accessible once more.
But for members of the refugee and migrant community, the story is, of course, a different one.
Not only have measures like social distancing been difficult to implement in the often overcrowded camps; many of the services that were available at the beginning of 2020 have been seriously impacted by the change in environment.
To keep in line with hygiene protocols, our partners had to temporarily shut down or scale back their operations for much of 2020-2021. But once the situation stabilised, they realised reestablishing their services would not be as simple as they had hoped as another issue emerged - a lack of volunteers to keep their operations running.
Last month several members of our staff undertook a monitoring field trip, and many of the organisations we visited shared a similar story...
At some point during the last one and a half years of travel restrictions, it became clear to these organisations that a change in operations was necessary. Instead of solely relying on international volunteers maintaining projects, they realised it made sense to work more closely with members of the refugee and migrant community. Not only did this allow for a continued service delivery, it also meant that the communities these projects are aimed at supporting play a bigger role in shaping what a service should look like.
For us at Indigo, this means an even bigger focus on matching the right people to the right project. Speaking to partners in Greece and Serbia, the need for skilled international volunteers has by no means vanished. In fact, the number of organisations seeking long-term volunteers is as high as ever!
The fact that many organisations have shifted focus towards working with members of the refugee and migrant community has presented Indigo Volunteers with an opportunity to divert some of our resources towards expanding our network.
By onboarding new partners we’ll ensure volunteers are able to go where their skills are needed the most - the need for support continues to be high among humanitarian groups and we are proud to be helping them in their search for the right candidates.