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Vision 21 : Volunteerism and Social Services in the 21st century

Initiated by a Polish Institute, this European project under the Grundtvig programme means to tackle social inclusion in the 21st Century thanks to volunteering. Four countries are concerned : France, Italy, Poland and Spain.


This two-year project is designed to facilitate cross-national exchange and dissemination of good practice in the cooperation between social services institutions and voluntary organizations. It will focus on ways to effectively recruit, train and supervise volunteers for the purposes of social work. Teaming up with the voluntary sector can substantially increase the capacity of social work bodies to cater for the needs of disadvantaged groups (the poor, the disabled, the elderly). This, in turn, should aid social inclusion and improve quality of life of the socially marginalized, thus contributing to greater social cohesion. First, partners will hold meeetings at country level to pool local knowledge and prepare contributions to the main seminar. Then, representatives will hold a preparatory meeting in Warsaw to thrash out the programme of the main seminar. Next, the main international seminar on good practice in volunteer-aided social work will take place in Warsaw. In the second year partners will develop a new handbook for social workers on how to work with volunteers. The handbook will be drafted in English and subsequently translated into the languages of project participants. Another end product will be a web portal bringing together social workers and voluntary sector activists.


Volunteer organizations will get a chance to develop valuable links with social services institutions, and therefore to extend their sphere of activity and broaden the range of volunteer placement possibilities. Research bodies will gain valuable insight into the practicalities of volunteer-aided social work in different countries, which may prove an interesting object of study for social policy and volunteering research.

(1) By confronting their own experiences with those of their counterparts from other countries, social workers and voluntary sector activists will become better equipped to successfully tackle social exclusion and other problems facing the clients of social work agencies: the poor, the disabled, the elderly, ethnic minorities. A new handbook and a web-portal will provide valuable reference tools, and ensure a lasting impact.

(2) Providers of social worker training will have an opportunity to enrich their course programmes with good practice examples and experiences from abroad. This will improve course quality and, consequently, boost the prestige and popularity of these institutions.


The main objectives are:

(1) Pooling knowledge and experiences in cooperation between the social services sector and voluntary organizations;
(2) collecting and disseminating good practice examples;
(3) strengthening the capacity of social work bodies to deliver quality assistance for disadvantaged groups (the poor, the disabled, the elderly, ethnic minorities;
(4) facilitating social inclusion and an improved quality of life for marginalized groups to achieve greater social cohesion.

Project outcomes

  1. Cross-European exchange of experiences and good practice in setting up successful cooperation between social services institutions and the voluntary sector.
  2. A comparative assessment of volunteer-aided social work in countries representing alternative social policy models (post-communist, Mediterranean, Northern European).
  3. Developing a new handbook for social workers on how to recruit, train and supervise volunteers, encompassing good practice examples from the participating countries.
  4. Setting up an international web-portal for a day-to-day exchange of ideas between social workers and voluntary sector activists. It will feature, inter alia, articles, reports from interesting events, a discussion forum, links to social work agencies and voluntary organizations in the participating countries etc.


October 2004 - December 2006


Poland - Institute for the Development of Social Services (IRSS) 
Piotr Matela et Krystyna Kocerba
Marszalkowska 34/50
00-554 Varsovie
Tel.: + 48 22 6210423
Fax: + 48 22 6294018

France - IRIV - Institut for Research and Information on Volunteering
Bénédicte Halba
26 boulevard Raspail, 75007 Paris
Tel.: +33-1-42840825
Fax: +33-1-42840825

Spain - Saint Isidore Institute of Secondary Education
Begona Cruz Fernandez Calle Poeta Manuel Martinez 2
19 200 Azuqueca de Henares
Tel.: + 34 949261181
Fax: + 34 949262406
www. sanisidro.com

Italy - Lunaria
Davide Di Pietro
Via Salaria 89
00-198 Roma
Tel.: + 39 68 884 1880 
Fax : + 39 6888841859

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