Culture of good deed: how Mosvolunter has been helping people and animals for seven years

February 21
Social sector

The resource center Mosvolonter will strike seven years old on February 21. During that period, tens of thousands of Muscovites joined the volunteer movement, but it was during the pandemic that the volunteer activities became really massive. Since the beginning of 2020, the participants of the action “We together” have honoured 46 thousand requests: volunteers delivered food and medicines to the people who were staying at home, and helped with their pets.

Portraits of smiling people are displayed on the walls of the central office of the organization. Teachers, managers, students, scientists, big bosses, and even pensioners are among those who became part of the volunteer movement.

Dmitry Pokrovsky, Director of the resource center speaks on development of the Mosvolonter

Make the world kinder

- The Mosvolonter center is going to be seven years old. How did volunteer movement change during this period?

- When the Mosvolonter resource center was being set up it was an initiative group of like-minded people who wanted to develop volunteering.  Back then, Olympic Games were underway in Sochi, and talks were about event volunteering associated with large-scale events.

Today, the Mosvolonter has become a flagship not only for Moscow, but for Russia alike. It is the biggest resource center in the country. We do not just recruit people, Mosvolonter coordinates volunteer activities in the society. Our main task is to help develop local volunteer centers. We develop good deeds culture in the country. The more people are involved in this culture, the more we influence the society and “make the world kinder”, according to our motto.

Press Service of the Public Relations and Youth Policy Committee of Moscow

- So, you shape a way of thinking?

- We form a way of thinking and proper habits. We help develop volunteer centers at schools, colleges, universities, and volunteer services of non-profit companies. We are build a full value system of volunteer activities.  Our task is to help organize educative processes, find experts, partners, and people who are in need of help. So, globally, we unify everybody who is in any way engaged in helping people in Moscow.

- Has the coronavirus become a catalyst for volunteer movement development?

- I will give you an illustrative example. If in the FIFA World Cup 2018, five thousand volunteers from all Moscow took part, in 2020, the mutual help action “We together” attracted 23 thousand people during the pandemic. Most of them had not taken part in volunteer activities before.

Press Service of the Public Relations and Youth Policy Committee of Moscow

According to our data, 560 thousand people were involved in volunteer movement in Moscow as of the end of 2020. More than 120 thousand people have registered on our website alone.

Volunteers without borders

- Are there any restrictions for becoming a volunteer?

- Absolutely none, our volunteers have no borders. The youngest volunteer is as young as 14, while the oldest one is 83. By the way, the notion of “Silver volunteer” has become very trending. These are the older people, active Muscovites who do not work any more and have a lot of spare time. They do not want to stay indoors and are ready to help other people.

Press Service of the Public Relations and Youth Policy Committee of Moscow

We also have inclusive volunteers. Disabled people also can help others and take part in different activities.  We have a brilliant example - auto-volunteer Alexander, a wheelchair man. He does not fulfil delivery requests himself but he helps a volunteer girl giving her a lift to attend the those who are in need.

- How are volunteers taught?

- We have a lot of programs which are logically connected to each other. There is a basic program for those who are not acquainted with volunteering at all. It is important to understand that volunteering is not just to catch somebody in the street and to do him good, the most important thing is not to do harm. You have to know the specifics, especially if you are working with certain categories of people.

Photo by Yulia Ivanko, Mos.ru

There are programs for organizers of volunteer centers, for managers, the program for pupils “First step” that helps school volunteer groups cooperate and develop. We develop it together with the Department of Education. Programs for colleges and universities will appear this year.

- Can a volunteer “die down”?

- Yes, of course, one can get tired of everything,and get disappointed with everything. Sometimes a volunteer who helps see an aggressive reaction in response. The most important thing is to have a rest sometimes. Volunteering is not a job, there is no place to perfectionism or racing for achievements. It is normal to take a pause and change the activity. Actually, no volunteer is tied to a single domain.

When there is no place for unimportant tasks

- Whom does Mosvolonter help, what problems does it solve?

- Help is needed everywhere, so we do not ask “Who needs help?”. Apart from people, volunteers provide a lot of assistance to animal shelters. Thus, in 2020 alone, in the course of only one action, more than two tonnes of feedstuff were collected.

If at the beginning of our campaign we had about five field of activities, today there are more than 10. We are helping nature - it is the ecological volunteering. There is also media-volunteering, when people are engaged in promotion in social networks, photo and video shooting, and writing texts.

Media-volunteers have implemented the action “Kind badges” They have made six thousand personal badges with photos of doctors working in “red” zones, given that patients do not see their faces.

 

Another new direction is car-volunteering. It also became popular during the pandemic. Volunteers with cars help doctors get to hospitals or help other volunteers deliver products. This activity has a big potential: during the coronavirus pandemic, about two thousand people expressed their readiness to help regularly.

Family volunteering started developing. Entire families join our movement.

- Moscow volunteers have taken part in many big actions. What became the main challenge for them, in your opinion?

- Any job is a challenge for us. Wherever there are difficulties, volunteers are ready to help. So, new domains appear and entire projects are born. For example, when old people observed self-isolation, stray cats remained without food. The animals were hungry, because people stayed at their houses. So the project “Feed!” was started. Volunteers saw the problem, created an initiative group, found partners, and started collecting feedstuff and saving animals.

Not long ago, our volunteers visited site of cultural heritage - the Yusupov Palace. They cleared it up of snow, which could damage the historical building. There are no unimportant tasks for us.

- How is targeted help organized?

- We have a large partner base of Moscow non-profit companies - about 1.5 thousand. On the one hand, there are those who need volunteer help. These are non-profit companies, business, executive authorities, and social institutions. On the other hand, there are volunteer centers ready to help. Our task is to coordinate their activities.

Mosvolonter also has experts - they teach and help develop social projects. Every day, non-profit companies ask for advice and help in organizing volunteer services and studying. More than 35 thousand people have already passed different courses. We plan to do more such work this year.

- Do you have plans to spread your experience outside Moscow?

- We are always ready to cooperate. Just a few minutes before the interview, my colleagues tell to me that one more region was asking for cooperation. We already have such experience, we actively help outside Moscow and give advice on how to develop.

We hope that our mobility program will be launched this year; it is an interesting project for Moscow volunteers.  We will be able to make them attend big events of any format outside the region.

Help of the city

- How do the authorities of the capital city support volunteers?

- Since the beginning of the pandemic, all parking spaces have been free for car-volunteers taking part in the action “We together” It is a great support, especially for those who fulfil requests. All foot volunteers receive free travel tickets from the Moscow Department of Transport and Development of Road Infrastructure. As of now, more than 24 thousand tickets have already been given out. Our volunteers get free tickets to theatres, exhibitions, and excursions.

We give them comfortable and nice uniform which can be worn in everyday life. Volunteers are sure to be fed when they are at work. Volunteers get notes of thanks which especially help school students: most universities in Moscow give them additional credits for admission, if they have taken part in volunteer activities.

- Is it real to make volunteering an integral part of the life of every Muscovite?

- Yes, of course. Come to think of it, we realized that the main idea is not just to create culture of good deeds. It is important to create a volunteer ambiance. It embraces more and more Muscovites every day. Our global task is make all the Muscovites dive in it. In order to enter the ambiance of good deeds, it is enough to think and act properly. For example, if I see a person lying on the ground I will never pass by. I will come up to him and get to know if I can be helpful. Seven years ago, we would not have seen what we saw after the recent snowfall - Muscovites helped each other; people living next door came out to help their neighbors to set free other people`s cars. People are ready to do good deeds.

Volunteering is our aim. Some people join it at the age of eight, others - at fifty. There is no need to wait for something or hope for a miracle. Just step up and help your neighbors, and they will help you tomorrow.

Source: mos.ru

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