Volunteering is an opportunity, not just for young people, but for everyone to contribute their skills and time to various organizations as it can play a huge role in nurturing social self consciousness. People who choose volunteering can engage in many different activities that help strenghten the character.
When it comes to Serbia, there is a great range of opportunities that certainly varies from one city to another. Bigger cities offer a wider selection of opportunities, while the smaller places are limited to only a few choices. For example in Vranje there are currently only two organizations that offer volunteer work, one of which is the Red Cross in Vranje that requires preexisting knowledge of first aid to even be a member of the organization.
“Volunteering usually begins for everyone through the first aid program, and later, those who are more persistent expand their activities to include the program against human trafficking, voluntary blood donation, promotion of humane values, health prevention activities, social work, and more. Within all areas of work, there are training sessions and education programs for volunteers who wish to operate in a specific field. After the training, their involvement begins”, says Sanja Dimić, leader of one of the volunteering groups from the Red Cross in Vranje.
On the other hand, a relatively new organization which was formed in 2018 presents the youth with more opportunities since it is in itself run by young people.
“We design meaningful projects by conducting thorough surveys to identify areas that require support. Our approach involves tailoring projects to these identified needs, ensuring that volunteers can make a tangible and significant difference. We offer orientation sessions to acquaint them with the mission, values, and ongoing projects of our organization. Additionally, we conduct training sessions tailored to equip volunteers with the necessary skills and knowledge relevant to their roles”, says Đorđe Stojanović one of the members of the non-government organization Naš svet, naša pravila.
When it comes to the other towns in the south, Niš for example, also offers volunteering opportunities within the branches of the Red Cross. In contrast, Volonterski centar Niš, hasn’t had any activities from 2021.
In the northern part there are also different branches of the Red Cross active in different cities.
“The range of programs and activities of the Red Cross is broad, and volunteers, in line with their inclinations and interests, choose the programs they volunteer for. They acquire necessary skills and knowledge through education provided by the Red Cross. On the other hand, volunteers who already possess certain knowledge and skills and have the goodwill to share them with us are also of great importance”, says Siniša Trajković from the Red Cross of Subotica.
Another one of the volunteering opportunities is the Volunteer center of Vojvodina which is in charge regarding the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina.
“Volunteer center of Vojvodina is not a typical volunteer center meaning a place where supply and demand come together, connecting organizers of volunteering or organizations in need of volunteers with individuals who wish to volunteer, allowing them to learn about each other and initiate volunteer collaborations. We are a civic association with various activities, including youth exchanges, workshops, seminars, film screenings. Our goal is to build knowledge, skills, and attitudes that foster critical thinking, collaborative action, and social engagement.”
When it comes to Novi Sad specifically, one of the more prominent volunteering organizations is Novosadski volonterski servis. They work in a different way opposed to other volunteering organizations because they mainly focus on networking participants in volunteer work at local and international levels which is why it is currently one of the more popular volunteering options for young people.
On a broader plan, Volonteri na mreži are one of UNICEF’s projects whose goal is to activate Serbia as a whole to volunteer more. They have available volunteer projects for different interest groups across Serbia and their availability depends on the city that they are held in and they also provide tools for more efficient volunteer management, track volunteer contributions, and promote positive examples of youth activism.
Volunteering experiences in Serbia offer diverse programs that largely depend on the city's size and its level of development. Bigger cities are able to offer a wider array of options for people who want to volunteer, while on the other hand smaller towns are quite limited with volunteer work they are able to offer to people who are interested in volunteering. In conclusion, more effort should be made to try and activate underdeveloped local communities into enhancing volunteering options for young people.