Author: Desislava Georgieva
Published On: 08/12/2023

There is a general misunderstanding by the state of what volunteering is. This was stated by Darina Ivanova, President of the Sea Club “Friends of the Sea” and member of the Public Center for Environment and Sustainable Development during a discussion on the problems of the sector in Varna. According to her, people wrongly put an equal sign between a good person and a volunteer. Being a volunteer is a mission, and a good person helps a neighbour or a stranger on the street once, Ivanova said.

Bulgaria still lacks a law on volunteering. The Ministry of Youth and Sports has pulled out of the archives a draft law from a few years ago, but the texts are so outdated that they need to be rewritten, says Lena Karnalova of the Big Brother, Big Sister – Bulgaria association. Even if there is a law in this area, if the regulations in it are not up to par, it will not be workable, Karnalova also refers to foreign experience. In her words, the historical heritage and the lack of regulations in this area are the reason why citizens do not want to do voluntary work. The other factor is glossy campaigns packaged as volunteer campaigns, such as “Let’s clean up Bulgaria in one day”, which create a different image of volunteering.

Everybody wants to get involved once a year to clean, are the observations of Ilian Iliev from the Public Center for Environment and Sustainable Development. For 20 years, he has been working as a volunteer for the Leaf by Leaf campaign, donating the money from the recycled paper to the organization. Volunteers’ first encounter with the campaign leaves them with the impression that it is “dirty”, “heavy” and “unprestigious” and they quickly give up, Iliev said. His observation is that most volunteers want to come for a little while to show that they participated and leave.

After the Kovid pandemic in our country, one-off unorganized volunteering is increasingly coming to the fore, according to the observations of the experts from the Big Brother, Big Sister – Bulgaria Association. The association is currently conducting a nationally representative sociological survey on attitudes towards volunteering and its diversity. The survey is conducted through a comprehensive online survey and focus groups in different locations with stakeholders. Varna was one of the stops of the survey, with the participation of volunteers, participants in youth schools of the Municipal Children’s Complex and representatives of NGOs working with volunteers. In addition to the sea town, focus groups were held in Sofia, Plovdiv, Shumen, Targovishte and Lovech.

Асоциация “Голям брат, Голяма сестра – България” е официален представител на “Big Brothers Big Sisters International” в България и отговаря на нейните стандарти за предоставяне на менторски услуги за деца и младежи в неравностойно положение.

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This material is created with the financial support of the European Union, in the framework of project Climate action by European citizens delivers for development CSO-LA/2018/160048-1/23. Only the authors are responsible for the content and in no circumstances, it can be treated as the official position of the European Union.