Supporting the volunteers’ journey
This BEFORE-DURING-AFTER volunteering pathway is structured in four main stages* that are common to all the International Exchange and Solidarity Volunteering (VIES – Volontariat international d’échange et solidarité) schemes:
- Making the commitment concrete/Recruiting volunteers (information, guidance, selection)
- Preparing volunteers (training for departure, administrative & medical procedures, signing the contract)
- Supporting and monitoring volunteers during their field missions
- Ensuring the return goes smoothly and preparing the post-volunteering period (taking stock, drawing on achievements, reintegration, reinvestment)
In order to help you, as an organisation, in your role of supporting volunteers through the different stages of their journey, France Volontaires, its members and partners have developed a number of good practice guidelines and common reference frameworks.
*Data collected by France Volontaires and Dewynter Conseil
International exchange and solidarity volunteering is a form of undertaking that brings together different volunteering schemes. It enables citizens to carry out development and solidarity missions in the world, for periods ranging from a few weeks to several years. It is co-constructed and implemented with partner associations, foundations or local authorities.
It covers a wide range of experiences that enable everyone to volunteer according to their background.
- Initiation and exchange volunteering (VIE – volontariat d’initiation et d’échange) concerns young people and people who are involved for the first time in international solidarity for a short period of time, in particular via international solidarity work camps or civic service,
- Exchange and skills volunteering (VEC – volontariat d’échanges et de compétences) involves active or retired people who are recruited for expert missions over relatively short periods, such as solidarity leave and senior volunteering, but who are part of a long-term development programme with the partner organisation and/or in a process of transferring technical skills.
- Cooperation and development support volunteering, and in particular international solidarity volunteering (VSI – volontariat de solidarité internationale), enables people to commit over a long period to a mission in the field of development cooperation and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The four steps to support the volunteers’ journey
Making the commitment concrete
This stage takes place once the needs have been defined with the local partner organisations. It lasts about two months. It includes: The joint development of mission descriptions The joint development of mission descriptions with partners to publish a vacancy to those who may wish to apply. Particular care must be taken to ensure that the principles…
This stage takes about 1-2 months. It includes: Training Future volunteers are invited to a pre-departure training course (PAD – préparation au départ) before their assignment, either individually or in groups. It is carried out in a group setting and enables the future volunteers to get to know each other better and to discuss their fears and…
Supporting and monitoring volunteers
Reception This stage is crucial to help volunteers settle into their mission country, explain the administrative points and procedures that are essential for their safety (subscription to the information thread, registration as a French person abroad, etc.) as well as important logistical issues (buying necessities, contact persons and places, etc.). Introducing the volunteers to the…
Ensuring a smooth return and preparing for the post-volunteer period
Return from mission Closure and follow-up: volunteers are encouraged to take part in a group review of the volunteering experience. The longer the duration of the assignment, the more important it is to support the returning volunteer. It is experienced differently by volunteers depending on their experiences in the country of assignment. Support on return…