Get Connected - Volunteering and Shared Values

Volunteer Scotland has been involved in a major European project that’s explored the impact that volunteering can have on bringing people and communities together.

Over the last 18 months, Serve the City Brussels (Belgium), Volonterski Centar Osijek (Croatia), Dublin City Volunteer Centre (Ireland) and Volunteer Scotland (Scotland) have all been exploring how volunteering - including the way it is supported and organised - influences our shared values.

Eforc Collage

  • What was the project about?

    This project was all about connecting with communities, finding meaningful experiences and telling personal stories. By documenting people’s volunteer journeys, we hoped to gain a better insight into volunteers’ experiences and help to inspire others to get more involved in their communities.

    Our daily interactions with people around us can have a lasting effect on who we are, how we see the world and what we hold dear. Volunteering can play a big part in how people choose to spend their time, who they engage with and what issues they decide to act upon, which in turn will shape their attitudes, values and connections – with other people as well as with their direct or wider community.

    Volunteering offers an opportunity to connect on many levels by:

    • Getting involved with issues close to your heart;
    • > Participating in the activities of your community;
    • Taking ownership of what’s going on in your community;
    • Making a difference in other people’s lives;
    • Lending a helping hand;
    • Showing solidarity and support for people less fortunate than yourself;
    • > "Crossing the road" – meeting people in your community, getting involved with groups you never knew existed, talking to someone that shares your passion or engaging with someone who has a completely different opinion to you;
    • Re-connecting with an interest of yours, something that’s important to you and forms a part of your identity;
    • Learning about other people and their lives, cultures, challenges and dreams.
  • What questions did we ask?

    The project aimed to take a closer look at what impact volunteering can have on people and their feeling of connectedness with their local communities, their attitudes and their general wellbeing.

    Some of the key questions the project set out to ask were: 

    • > Do people feel more connected to their local community through volunteering?
    • > Does it encourage them to become more active citizens and get involved in issues that matter to them and those around them?
    • Can volunteering lead to more self-fulfilment and encourage solidarity with others at the same time?
    • > And, if volunteering can have an impact in relation to people’s own identity and their community’s shared values, how does this compare across the four European countries which, while similar in population size, might have quite different set-ups in terms of infrastructure and cultural approaches when it comes to volunteering?
  • What we did:

    The project invited people to “Get Connected” with their community, the people around them and their own identity through volunteering.

    Participants were invited to take part in conversations about what’s going on in their community and what’s important to them, to get involved in volunteering and to share their personal volunteering experience to inspire others.

    The project had a number of components designed to help people to embark on their own personal volunteering journeys:

    • > “Conversation Salons” or "Community Bubbles" were held in each partner country. You can find out more about Community Bubbles here.
    • > Digital Media Workshops in each partner country to equip people with the ability to document their journeys and tell their volunteering stories.
    • > “Before and after” surveys in each partner country to research the impact of volunteering on people’s values
    • > Support was provided in each partner country to help participants engage in their volunteering activity. 
    • > A European Roadshow took place in each partner country to display and share participant’s experiences at the end of the project.

    View some of the photos from our Scotland Roadshow Exhibition:

  • Events list:

    A full list of events that took place across all four partner countries is available below.

    View here

  • Get to know some of our volunteers:
  • Related blog posts:
    • May is the real deal in Brussels…

      by George Thomson

      Read here

    • Everyone Benefits From Volunteering

      by Marie Robertson

      Read here

    • Re-Connecting Our Communities

      by Mauro Renna

      Read here

  • Downloads:
    • Summary Brochure:

      Find out more about the project in our summary brochure.

      View here

    • Practitioners' Briefing: 

      Find out more about how volunteering can influence our values in our practitioners' briefing.

      View here 

    • Research Report:

      Find out more about the volunteering infrastructure in the four partner countries in our research report.

      View here 

  • Project Background:

    Serve the City Brussels (Belgium), Volonterski Centar Osijek (Croatia), Dublin City Volunteer Centre (Ireland), and Volunteer Scotland submitted a joint grant application for the project to the European Commission’s Europe for Citizens Programme in March 2017.

    The project scored 12th place out of 361 submitted proposals and was therefore selected for funding as one of 25 projects being supported across the EU. The initiation phase of the project began in November 2017, with the project completing in April 2019.