The Annual Conference of International Volunteer Cooperation Organisations (IVCO) took place online in 2021 and was co-hosted by Forum and ActionAid Hellas from 16 to 20 October. The theme of IVCO 2021 was “Inclusive Volunteering for Global Equality”, bringing together researchers and practitioners engaged with volunteer-involving organisations to foster discussions on the challenges and opportunities facing the sector.
RYVU team members Professor Matt Baillie Smith and Professor Peter Kanyandago joined IVCO 2021 session on “Community Volunteering and Localisation”, in a panel discussion with Lea Sofia Simonsen (ActionAid Denmark), Dr Philip Goodwin (VSO International) and Kudzo Nyameko Gbemou (Association JSA), moderated by Erin Bateman (World University Service of Canada).
In their contribution, Matt and Peter have presented RYVU findings to evidence high rates of volunteering participation amongst youth refugees in Uganda, but also how this needs to be seen as part of complex livelihoods strategies by the vulnerable. Moreover, Peter shared his experience as part of the African Volunteers Association (AVA) in Uganda to highlight the potential of volunteering to address poverty and inequality, but also the importance of recognising that community- led and owned approaches don’t always fit established thinking.
Overall, the session discussed the localisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and experiences of community volunteering, as well as existing challenges and potential for cooperation between national and international organisations. The panelists shared their insights and experience on how to build on pre-existing systems to support local volunteers and organisations in developing and leading initiatives for community development.