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Online conference on volunteerism in civil protection: support Ukraine, learn from Ukraine

“This is extremely interesting! Can we organise a separate meeting with you? Would be great to know more about your HAKA database and Finnish legislation! – Of course, I will send you more information and we will set up a meeting!” – this exchange between Ukrainians and Finns is one of several moments showing that this online meeting was not organized in vain.

30 experts from 7 countries gathering for an online conference on volunteerism on 22 May 2024.

The conference idea came from the community development working group of the Civil Protection Faculty project, which helps to channel Baltic Sea Region civil protection training curricula into education of Ukrainian civilians and first responders. When inviting participants, Ukrainian educators from the folk high school Vovchok stated:

The strong partners mentioned here are the Ukrainian Firefighters Foundation – a successful charity fund helping Ukrainian firefighters, rescuers and sappers with equipment, transport and now branching out into capacity building and training. Civil Protection Faculty partners hope that the Foundation will lead the working group on volunteerism, making it a sustainable vehicle for transferring rich Baltic Sea Region experience of volunteerism to Ukraine, at the same time allowing European experts to learn from the recent experience of Ukrainian fire and rescue in coping with challenges caused by the war.

CBSS helped to bring relevant experts from Latvia, Finland, Sweden, Poland, Estonia, Denmark to the conference and shared the results of the latest projects on volunteerism in the Baltic Sea Region, such as VOALA and BYFORES. Many of the participants, both from government agencies and NGOs shared their experiences in building and maintaining volunteer movement in civil protection, and its financial, managerial and legislative aspects.

The conference finished with many new contacts and pledges to assist in knowledge sharing.

In parallel, Civil Protection Faculty project, funded by the Swedish Institute, runs four more working groups: in emergency medicine, psychological support, demining and assistance to first responders. The project is scheduled to finish by the end of the year with a ready-to-use curriculum in these fields.

Ukrainian volunteers will also be invited to join the recently established Network of Volunteer organisations and Authorities which will help countries in the Baltic Sea Region to exchange experiences in establishing and supporting volunteer movements.

The project was initiated together with PA Education.