The East Riding recently took the opportunity to showcase some of the excellent volunteering activity, which is taking place in its many voluntary and community organisations, when European partners from the Volunteers for European Employment (VERSO) project embarked on a study visit to the area.
VERSO is a pan-European knowledge-sharing initiative, which aims to combat increasing unemployment across the European Union and help get people into employment through innovative approaches to volunteering.
VERSO brings together local authority and knowledge partners from Denmark, Greece, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain (Catalonia), Hungary, The Netherlands and Bulgaria to share good practice and East Riding of Yorkshire Council is leading local involvement here. The ultimate aim of the project is to transfer the good practice from one particular national, social and cultural context to another.
The visiting partners attended the East Riding Voluntary and Community Sector Conference 2014 at Bishop Burton College, organised jointly by East Riding Voluntary Action Services and East Riding of Yorkshire Council, and were included in the day’s programme. They gave presentations and ran a workshop to raise awareness of the volunteer training and mentoring work, which is going on in other parts of Europe.
As part of the study visit, European partners visited The Sobriety Project at The Waterways Museum, in Goole, learning of the many ways in which volunteers are engaged, such as maintenance of canal boats, gardening and landscaping, painting and work within the museum.
The second visit was to The Courtyard, in Goole, (a multi-cultural resource centre) where VERSO partners learned about the various volunteer-involving organisations and projects based there, including the work of The Green Team, Home-Start and projects embracing residents from Eastern Europe.
The final visit was to Densholme Care Farm, in Great Hatfield, where volunteers are heavily involved in helping with supporting the clients, care of the animals and helping with the organic community orchard. The European guests were driven about for the day by a volunteer driver in a Beverley Community Lift minibus and enjoyed the varied programme showcasing the work and importance of volunteers within organisations.
Councillor Jane Evison, cabinet portfolio holder for economy, investment and inequalities, said: “It was a real privilege for the council to host our VERSO colleagues from overseas. This visit was an excellent opportunity to share ideas and best practice on a range of economic issues.
“Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and boost employment and career prospects, most volunteers will tell you they got so much out of the work and it provides the opportunity to try new things.
“Getting people into work is a top priority for nations across the European Union and by working together through initiatives like the VERSO project we can identify new ways to grow our economies to the benefit of all our residents.”
The VERSO project will produce a Best Practice Catalogue in 2014, which will be available to learn from the work which has taken place over the course of the project and will ultimately result in a range of research-based policy recommendations, which will identify effective forms of volunteering and indicate how they can be transferred to contexts across Europe.
For more information on the VERSO project, or to get involved in volunteering in the East Riding, contact Anne Watkins at East Riding Voluntary Action Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning (01482) 871077.
The VERSO project has been co-financed by the European Union European Regional
Development Fund (ERDF) and made possible by the INTERREG IVC Programme.