Volunteer Refugee Project in Italy
- PLACEMENT LOCATIONS: Calabria
- ROLE: To assist refugees and migrants arriving by boat in Italy
- REQUIREMENTS: Volunteers need to be at least 18 years old
- TYPE OF PLACEMENT: Refugee centers
- ACCOMMODATION: Host family or apartment accommodation
- LENGTH OF PLACEMENT: From 1 week
- START DATES: Flexible
Europe is facing a refugee and migrant crisis: tens of thousands of desperate people from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia are crossing thousands of kilometers of dangerous terrain and braving the Mediterranean in appalling conditions, to strive for a better life for themselves and their families. Hundreds perish en-route, often tragically in the last stretch of sea before they reach the European coastline.
For those that arrive safely, the struggle continues. Local government agencies and infrastructure have proven unable to cope with the sheer number of people arriving and in need of aid. There is a great deal that private individuals and organizations can do to fill the gaps and help the thousands of refugees and migrants already in Europe and who are arriving daily.
Volunteering on the Refugee Project with Projects Abroad
Projects Abroad has partnered with local and international organizations operating in southern Italy to work directly with refugees and migrants. This includes ‘first response’ work to assist refugees and migrants as soon as they arrive on the Italian coast, and ‘second response’ work to help them access services and support as they adjust to their new lives.
Refugee boats arrive here directly, dropped off by patrolling navies and coastguards. When a boat arrives, volunteers will help to collect personal information, perform emergency medical screenings, and other tasks to check if the refugees are in need of additional assistance. If you have previous medical experience or a qualified medical professional, your help would be hugely valuable here. Speaking French is another useful skill, as many of the refugees and migrants are from French-speaking countries in Africa.
Projects Abroad volunteers also help local organizations provide social support for refugees and migrants. We work in various locations around Calabria, where refugees and migrants have been relocated and housed. This social support includes helping deal with legal and human rights matters in Italy and possible family searches in Europe. Refugees and migrants also have to attend special language and culture classes.
To join this project, you need to be at least 18 years old.
Your Role at the Refugee Project in Italy
A large variety of skills and expertise are needed at the Refugee Project. Each volunteer has something to offer and there is also a lot of space for volunteers to contribute their own ideas of how to help, regardless of experience or skill level. This could include translation work, assisting the elderly, or working at city halls. Due to the urgent and unpredictable nature of this project, there is room for volunteers to use their own initiative in collaboration with the local partners and staff.
You can expect to get involved with the following activities:
- Accompany refugees day to day, helping with paperwork and shopping, and accompany them as they cannot move around unescorted until they obtain authorization and documentation from the government.
- Do activities with young people who need to socialize and stay active.
- Accompany and assist refugees and migrants in their paperwork and integration process in general
We are also looking for volunteers with vital skills such as:
Medical or nursing students who speak English, French, or Arabic to:
- Assist with medical screenings as refugees and migrants land
- Accompany sick people to hospital, help unaccompanied minors with screening, and follow ups
- Work with local doctors to respond to emergencies and severe cases
- Regularly check the status of people at the transit center
- Support refugees who are in the process of integration, have some months in the country and may need medical care, especially those who might need assistance in English or French
Psychologists and therapists who speak English, French, or Arabic to:
- Provide psychological support to people who arrive on boats after the traumatic experience of travel and to offer support for those who have lost family or friends during the journey
- Support refugees and migrants already in Italy for a few weeks or months who might need help making sense of everything that has happened to them
- Support young people and children who are traumatized by the journey or loss of family
- Support men who are alone without their families and need to face the new and unknown
We are also calling for students who have completed at least one year of studies in psychology. Knowledge and skills in this field are crucial at this project and volunteers with a background in basic psychology can make a significant impact.
The Refugee Project in Italy is available from 1 week if you don't have time to join us for 4 weeks or more. This project has been selected by our local colleagues as being suitable for shorter durations for both the host community and the volunteer. Although you will gain valuable cultural insight and work intensely within the local community please be aware that you may not be able to make the same impact as someone participating for a longer period.