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Young volunteers offered their help in the recent floods in Slovenia


In the beginning of August heavy floods have hit the north and north east of Slovenia, leaving behind great damage, that will take months to repair. Despite the challenging situation, many people – including many youth organisations, youth centres, volunteer groups, student clubs, etc. – responded quickly to help in a variety of ways. On the so-called solidarity day, established to help those affected by the floods, more than 14.000 volunteers helped with damage repairs. Many more have also helped in the whole course of the 3 weeks since the floods, showing that the spirit of solidarity, volunteerism and inclusion play an important role in Slovenian society.

In this situation Slovenian Youth Centres have again proved that they are able to quickly connect with the local community, to actively organise their young volunteers, and to offer their help in many ways. They offered their help in the form of safe accommodation in their youth centres and hostels; some provided meals and ensured that the victims and all those who helped with the evacuation and damage repair did not go hungry; and many went out to collect warm clothes and shoes, work equipment, tools and other emergency supplies; many organisations selflessly organised real ”volunteer work brigades”, which went into the field as instructed by the authorities to help fill flood bags, remove mud and debris, etc. As one of the youth workers said: “There were a lot of anxious, depressive feelings, feelings of helplessness in the communities after the floods, also among young volunteers. So, us mentors tried to turn those feelings into positive action that would help our whole community. It was a big challenge, but I think we succeeded.”

Youth centres, that work as safe spaces and communities, encourage volunteering through all their activities that happen throughout the year. Through those activities they try to awaken the feeling of solidarity and empathy in young people, so they are willing to help and engage as volunteers in various situations. Besides they also work on prevention activities that prepare the volunteers “for life” and potential crises, that might come at some point. While doing that, youth workers offer the young volunteers support, mentoring and knowledge on how to transform the gained experience on other life situations, not only when they are working as volunteers, including personal crises that they might face.

After the crisis youth workers pointed out, that young volunteers must be seen as actors who can make a significant contribution, as each of them has specific strengths that can be turns into action. They have a very big role to play and the young people who volunteer in youth centres should be respected, because they are capable of a lot and have a lot of initiatives of their own. They need to be encouraged and given support if they need it. They have a lot of power; they just need to know how to channel it youth workers are there to help them and show the way.