VSO Ireland – leading the way in volunteering
Fantastic news to kick off 2018 – we’re Ireland’s leading international volunteering organisation! VSO Ireland is the very first organisation to be found fully compliant with all 44 indicators of Comhlámh’s Code of Good Practice. After being awarded the Comprehensive Compliance Standard for the last few years, the highest given, this is a real honour.
So what is the Code of Good Practice?
The Code of Good Practice is a set of standards put in place for organisations that facilitate international volunteer placements in developing countries. Funded by the Irish Government, it’s made up of 11 principles relating to different aspects of volunteering programmes, everything from marketing and recruitment to safety and monitoring and evaluation. It has been recognised by the Guardian as being "the highest-regarded set of guidelines" of its kind.
The code is really important because it’s the only one of its kind that helps to regulate the industry and ensure that both the interests of the volunteer and local project are prioritised. It’s internationally recognised as being a step ahead of other similar codes and often referred to by global organisations, such as EU Aid. At VSO Ireland, we promote the code whenever we can in our annual report, website and marketing materials because the values that underline it are very much in keeping with our own – solidarity (which Comhlámh actually translates to in Irish), sustainability and development.
What does this mean for VSO Ireland?
We’re delighted with this recognition from Comhlámh as it demonstrates our commitment to good practice and comprehensive volunteer support and training. All of our programmes are designed and run with local partner organisations, and we only ever recruit international volunteers when there is a real need for specialist skills on those programmes. Once selected, these volunteers have in-depth pre-departure and in-country training to ensure they settle into their new environment and start collaborating with their new colleagues. The Code of Good Practice award means we should hopefully be able to reach even more prospective volunteers and enhance their peace of mind that we always put their needs, as well as those of our local partner organisations and primary actors, first.
Our relationship with Comhlámh
Because of their position in the development sector, Comhlámh have excellent oversight of all the different volunteer sending organisations working in Ireland and the types of placements they facilitate. That’s why we regularly send people who are interested in volunteering overseas, but may not be suitable for VSO placements, their way. It’s great knowing that any organisations recommended by Comhlámh have been carefully vetted and are committed to making a real difference where it’s needed most. We enjoy working closely with the team at Comhlámh and attending the peer support meetings, as well as the many social events that happen throughout the year (the next one takes place in Dublin next week – check it out!).