Hello and Welcome
We hope you will enjoy volunteering with us and supporting vulnerable people in crisis and transition, whoever and wherever they are. The importance of volunteers cannot be overstated.
LDS Friendship Centers are a small group born out of a crisis and can only be possible because of people like you who willingly give up their time to help others.
This handy guide will assist you in understanding our mission and goals and provide you with an introduction into the services you could get involved in.
LDS Charities Friendship Center is an organization which has been created from LDS Charities which is the humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. LDS charities works all over the world and provides relief and support to the poor and needy.
LDS Charities partners with many organizations across Europe as we believe that by working in partnership with other organizations we can create more sustainable projects and reach a greater number of recipients.
While providing emergency response for the refugees in 2015-2016 we realized a gap existed. The methods and plans for integration were almost non-existent. Today there are numerous NGOs that are beginning to help the transition of displaced persons to integration into host countries.
These qualified NGOs are professionals and have the skills to help individuals rebuild their lives through education and work. Another gap exists, however, and that is the need for one on one mentoring and true friendship with those who have lost hope due to many varied circumstances.
The journey along the route to freedom and safety was dangerous, chaotic, filled with fear. They enter their host countries traumatized. There is always the flood of misinformation and misunderstanding, in both the refugee and local community.
Displaced persons may feel alienated. They may feel that they will never fit into the new society. LDS Charities recognizes the importance of a friend and mentor to help such a person feel accepted, appreciated, important and especially, INCLUDED.
We invite you to join us and discover new friendships with both refugees and other volunteers. We know you will grow to love and appreciate these good people who have lost everything to come to a place where they hope they might one day have a life like yours
Values and Principles
Regardless of race, creed, gender or nationality and without judgement, we treat everyone with dignity and equality. Our priorities are based on the needs of the recipients and without distinction of any kind.
Help will not be used to further political or religious standpoints or individual agendas
We shall respect culture and customs
We will always attempt to build our relationships with local capacities and consider local people. We must strive to reduce vulnerabilities and resentments to future problems as well as meeting basic needs.
We endeavor to involve program participants in the development of what we provide.
We hold ourselves accountable both to those we seek to assist and to those from whom we accept resources. We will be responsible for safeguarding privacy as well as resources.
We must always show compassion in our dealings with recipients of our services. We recognize everyone as a person of worth and value. Many have lost dignity and feel shame and hopelessness. We will always safeguard privacy and confidentiality.
We will collaborate with others who are working on refugee aid and all people we come into contact with, leaving our own agenda behind and putting refugee needs first at all times.
LDS Charities Friendship Center
VOLUNTEER TRAINING MANUAL
- Every newcomer is in a different phase of their integration, legal, language learning and housing process.
- Adopt a supportive role and not a helping role.
- Allow time for building trust.
- Be patient and understanding.
- Respect their experiences, culture and religion.
- The faith or religious practices of participants will not be questioned.
- No proselytizing.
- Regular contact WhatsApp, telephone or Facebook is important.
- Be sensitive to privacy and be discreet with social media.
- Allow sadness and anger if present.
- Do the extra mile if needed to make the phone call, to tag along to an appointment, to arrange some papers.
- Consider the unpredictable life…filled with papers, appointments, meetings, health issues, moving issues, family reunifications (all equal stress).
- A straight forward and direct approach can be intimidating
- Accept miscommunications: “No” can mean “yes”, and “yes” can mean “no”, and “I don’t know” could mean no or maybe.
- Discover similarities and differences in social culture, work culture, family culture. Celebrate both.
- Work from your own personal strengths and resources.
- Build positive experiences and new memories.
- Avoid activities and conversations that would add unnecessary stress and disappointments.
- Remember we have to work around a bureaucratic and complex legislative system. Find creative solutions and keep a good relationship with institutes, and officials if you are making calls by phone or in person. Be aware you can harm the procedure. Also, we don’t want the participant to feel anything but positive from you.
- Follow up thoroughly on what you said you would do.
- One step at a time as you work to build genuine friendship.
- Be familiar with cultural sensitivities - do’s and don’ts.
- Never be alone with a participant. Bring another volunteer if travel required.
- No coffee, tea or alcohol or tobacco permitted on premises. Herbal tea permitted.
- Dress and grooming: neat, clean and modest attire required.
Get Involved No matter how little or how much you do, you are making a difference to someone’s life. We understand that not everybody can jump into the sea and save a baby, nor leave their families for weeks at a time to help in the field. People have lives – we get that. But there are SO many ways to help and so many teachable moments for your children, school classes and communities to raise awareness, that no matter how pressed you are for time or money – You TOO can help!
As a volunteer with us you can expect:
- To be involved with an organization that is really making a difference in the lives of countless refugees/migrants
- To be treated with courtesy and respect
- Continuous training and feedback on your tasks
- Full support and guidance when dealing with your responsibilities while volunteering with us
In return, volunteers agree to:
- Treat everyone with respect and compassion. Do not judge or use offensive language against anyone you come into contact with as a result of your time with us at LDS Charities Friendship Center
- Honor your commitments to us and communicate to us if a change in your circumstances affects this commitment
- Be honest with yourself and us about how you are dealing with your work and the situation you are in; we can only help if we know what you need
- Know your limits and look after your health, both physical and mental; it is fine to say no, and if you are not good with yourself then you cannot be good with anybody else
- Communicate with us and let us know how you feel, personally. We also welcome feedback and suggestions. As you work with recipients you will see what programs and ideas are most successful or welcome. Please tell us your insights and experiences.
- Give as much of yourself as you can allow to serve the refugees and aid us in our mission of empowering them to improve the quality of their own lives
How to begin your volunteer training:
- Please note, all training is offered in ENGLISH.
- You will want to make a list of all your questions.
- Training in the process is provided at the facility. Health and safety training will also be given.
- All confidential information must remain confidential. You will be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement at the very beginning of your time volunteering and it is essential that you always respect and honor this. Never disclose or share any information that could jeopardize a person’s safety or well-being, unless you believe there is an imminent danger to their being which must be addressed, in which case ONLY tell your supervisor.
- Communicating through social media requires care and tact. While media channels can be an indispensable and vital means of communication, remember that nothing is ‘off the record’ nowadays, and all media footprints can easily be traced back or resurrected years later!! Media content can be vulnerable to distortion and manipulation, and a poorly judged or thoughtless comment could cause significant damage to both your own and LDS Charities Friendship Center’s reputation. Therefore, we ask that you please take the utmost care and exercise full caution and sensitivity regarding any interaction that you undertake in our name while volunteering with us. Please refrain from anything which may reflect negatively on LDSCFC while communicating with the media.
This includes but is not limited to:
- Linking LDS Charities Friendship Center name to your own opinion when presenting it on any media outlet
- Using offensive or inflammatory language or posting information from unreliable or suspicious sources. If you are unsure, then do not post or share any information until you have verified it, either with a member of our team or one of our partnership collaborators.
- Posting false or misleading information which goes against the values and principles of LDSCFC
- Disclosing personal or sensitive information about any of the people you encounter as a result of your work with LDSCFC, or about any of our future projects that are yet unconfirmed.
- Promoting political beliefs and organizations of any sort.
- Proposing ANY illegitimate or illegal activities.
- Proposing any groups or activities that may result in more harm than good for vulnerable refugees/migrants
- Any comments, references, articles or sources that will ultimately hinder LDSCFC in achieving its objectives or damage working relationships maintained on the principles of trust, respect, solidarity, compassion and co-operation. The power of the media cannot be underestimated.
- So please help us to maintain and expand our media presence by: adhering to our protocols and heeding instructions given regarding your contributions to social and other media activity (where, when, how, who to target in our media campaigns); keeping posts relevant, timely, up-to-date, concise and accurate; stating and acknowledging all sources used; using correct grammar and proof-reading your posts; being consistent and communicative in your posts on social media groups, pages, etc.; answering questions in a respectful and comprehensive way – if you are uncertain about the answer, simply reply that you do not know but will respond as soon as you can.
- Projecting a positive and professional image of all our activities:
- Please confirm that it is ok to speak with any television/news/magazine/interview outlets with the directors. if you would like to do some PR in the name of LDSCFC, please discuss what you will be discussing and how you will represent us with them.
- LDSCFC will pay only for travel to and from activities or meetings outside of the center. All agreed expenses will be paid in a timely fashion and must have receipts. We cannot/will not pay any expenses without an official receipt. No other reimbursement will be provided.
Health and Safety:
- Your health and safety are important to us and you will be given the appropriate training by us according to your tasks and responsibilities while volunteering with us. Similarly, we ask you to communicate with us anything which you feel is affecting your health and safety and we will resolve to rectify any issues within our reach. If you feel unsafe or unwell while in certain environments, then please distance yourself from the perceived danger and report back immediately to your supervisor/manager. Do not get involved in any altercations between refugees or volunteers, simply call for help. If a building or a structure looks unsafe or suspicious then do not enter. Please be very careful when accepting an invitation to enter a refugee’s living space; we cannot assume responsibility for any decisions or actions you take outside of your designated volunteering role with LDSCFC, and if anything were to happen to you it would be your word against theirs and may cause upset and problems. Use your common sense when judging your response to any invitation into people’s private space and don’t be afraid to draw your boundaries. Again, always inform us of any incident or situations that have made you feel unsafe or vulnerable, and we will address them.
Safeguarding Children/Young People:
- As similarly, children are even more subject to negligence and exploitation, so if you see any signs of potential abuse then report it immediately to us, and we will alert the necessary authorities and endeavor to remove the child or young person from danger.
- Nearly all the refugees/migrants are vulnerable and so extra vigilance and attention must be taken in identifying any who need further support or protection beyond what we are able to provide. If you have concerns about any individual’s well-being, then report it immediately to us and we will take the necessary steps to co-ordinate assistance or intervention.
- As mentioned in our ‘communicating with the media’ section, please be mindful of your content and presentation of activities of LDSCFC. Please separate your own opinions from those of LDSCFC and do not link the two unless you have been given permission. If you are contributing to our social media outlets, then please refer to the lists above in the ‘communicating with the media’ about how we would like you to contribute to our social media presence. Regarding use of images, always ask permission from the subjects in your photos by having them sign a release form. The directors have the release forms. Do not photograph children without the express signed permission from their parents/guardians. Please publish only photos of your time volunteering with us that have been approved by us and respect the right to privacy of the refugees/migrants and your co-workers. We hope that seeing the difference you are making will fulfil you more than how many likes a photo can get!
- Please review the following links: http://n.pr/2hWl4Hb? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymcflrj_rRc
Grooming and Attire:
- Please wear practical clothes while volunteering. We appreciate clean clothes and modest outfits. Wear what you feel comfortable in, is practical and suitable for your work, and can handle the wear and tear.
- LDSCFC asks you to act with maximum discretion while handling any sensitive data which could be used to identify an individual and/or for fraudulent purposes while volunteering with us. Never distribute or publish any private or confidential information, including emails. Always keep passwords and PINS protected and secure. Store and backup personal details of refugees/migrants or other volunteers only in secure and agreed upon files.
- Do not divulge or talk about anything private that you hear while volunteering with us, and always check that a phone caller is legitimate before giving out sensitive information over the phone. You can do this by taking their details, confirming with one of us that they are a trusted partner, and then calling them back.
- If you receive a complaint about the functioning or operations of LDSCFC then please report it immediately and directly to our Director. Remain impartial and do not take sides. Listen carefully and take down the details of the person complaining and the issue at hand. Empathize with them, tell them you understand their dissatisfaction but that it is not for you to deal with and you will pass their complaint and details on to a member of our team who will respond as swiftly as possible. Be aware not to jeopardize your position of trust and not to share anything of a confidential nature with anyone except those involved in handling and dealing with the matter.