After a long few months of social distancing and severely limited lifestyles, Europe has started to open up again. Restaurants and coffee shops are back in service, internal borders can be crossed again and, cautiously, everything is preparing for a new form of normality. For the humanitarian grassroots sector this has meant that a long few months of suspended or significantly reduced services are coming to an end, too. Slowly, our partners are working on restarting their operations.
Of course, this raises a few questions. If most of us work with already vulnerable (and therefore higher risk) populations and are predominantly relying on international volunteers joining us on the ground - how can this be done responsibly? We have asked ourselves the same question. And while the answer isn’t necessarily straightforward - much like the rest of Europe - we believe our work over these last few months puts us in a good position to carefully resume our services from before the pandemic.
As we have seen with other infectious diseases in the past, there isn’t really such a thing as zero risk.
All we can do is try to reduce the risk of our actions negatively affecting those around us.
It’s about finding the balance between being able to work towards what we want to achieve and doing so without actively putting others in harm’s way.
And while this meant some rather drastic lockdown measures in the pandemic’s initial stages, Europe has found ways to slowly gain the upper hand again. We now know what behavior, attitude and thinking to adopt in order to carefully start reintroducing some of life’s aspects we had to give up on back in March.
In order for our partners to continue providing their much-needed services and in order for us to support our partners with volunteers, we have therefore ensured all of us adhere to a few basic principles. We are now only sending volunteers to partners who can ensure that the following protocols are implemented:
A Covid-19 hygiene protocol appropriate to their operation.
A protocol for incoming volunteers minimising the risk of them bringing Covid-19 to the team on the ground and subsequently to the communities the team works with.
A protocol for how to respond if there is a confirmed case of Covid-19 among the team.
2020 proves to be a challenging year in a lot of ways. To achieve all of the above we are working with external consultants advising us on how to best exercise due diligence in a responsible yet workable and non-invasive way. With this, we are able to slowly ease our way back towards some degree of the new normality.
Visit our partner page to find out which of our partners are open for applications!
These pictures have been taken by our partners WAVE, when distributing food to displaced people living in Thessaloniki, Greece.