Last week’s Royal visit to Stockholm was a great success, I thought. Nicola and I were particularly pleased that Their Royal Highnesses were able to meet members of the British community, including some of those involved in volunteering, at our reception.
The Prince expressed particular interest in a project which is being started in Sweden – The English Volunteering Project.
The project has been started by a British woman called Claire Thomas, who, after moving to Sweden because of her husband’s work, realised that it was very difficult for people who don’t speak Swedish to find volunteering opportunities. She felt this was not a good thing as volunteering is an excellent way to help people become part of a new society, make friends, learn Swedish and gain work experience. So, as she has a background of working with the voluntary sector in the United Kingdom, she decided to use her experience to set up a project aimed at making it easier for people to volunteer here.
Sweden has a volunteering centre called Volontärbyrån which has been supporting and encouraging volunteering throughout Sweden for 10 years. However, its services are only offered in Swedish. Claire is working with them to make what they do accessible to anyone who can speak English.
The English Volunteering Project aims to
- Adapt Volontärbyrån’s existing services (matching volunteers with non-profit organisations) so that they can be accessed by anyone who can speak English.
- Work with and support Swedish non-profit organisations to make what volunteer opportunities they can accessible to non-Swedish speakers.
- Make English speakers aware of the value of volunteering, the volunteer opportunities that are available to them, and to encourage and support them to volunteer.
The idea of the project has been received very positively by the international community in Stockholm, and Prince Charles indeed commented that it is ‘obviously a brilliant idea’. However, the project needs to raise around 80,000 kronor to pay for the changes that need to be made to the existing Volontärbyrån website, and this needs to be raised before July, or Volontärbyrån will cancel the project. All other work on the project can be done on a voluntary basis, but this minimum amount of money is required for the project to continue.
Claire is keen to talk to anyone who may be able to help support the project, including companies who use English as a working language or who have lots of English speaking employees. Her contact details are firstname.lastname@example.org or 0708 38 15 73.