EU Aid Volunteers (1)

Partnership with EU Aid Volunteers, Humanitarian Volunteer Management

In partnerships by Shannon Kay

In July 2017, Small Projects Istanbul has officially stepped into a new phase of professional project participation through our involvement with the EU Aid Volunteers funded project: “Reinforcement and Sustainability in Humanitarian Volunteer Management”. This project is an exciting step forward for SPI as we continue to develop the operational capacity of our organization in order to be always working to improve the quality of our community services.

The project involves working with a number of other EU and non-EU partners in the development of security practices and policies, needs assessment procedure, logistics and management practices which are all ultimately focused on the improvement of the SPI volunteer program. As volunteering has always been a central pillar of the SPI environment, supporting the development of this part of our work is a wonderful opportunity for us!

The first 3 day training seminar, held in Roubaix, France, kicked off the project in May. Aline and I attended as SPI representatives and participated in a variety of workshops focusing on safety and security policy development and implementation. Involvement in the project has opened my eyes to a number of important areas of volunteer management that SPI had not previously considered and I already feel the benefits of the project for our organization and community. By the end of the project our team will have participated in 4 trainings and developed a variety of tools which will enable us to be certified as an EU Aid volunteers Host organisation. Many exciting possibilities can come from this certification, which will allow us to host professional volunteers to support the capacity building and development of the organization.

EU Aid Volunteers (2)

Whilst the idea of ‘developing safety policies’ may not sound very thrilling(!) it comes within the context of the slow growth and development of SPI, a process that I have been deeply invested in over the past two years. Over this time, I have learned and experienced so such and had so many ‘firsts’ in understanding what goes into running a volunteer led community center, that from where I stand now it has actually become an exciting idea to have all our activities and projects backed up by industry standard policies, such as the HVM project gives us the opportunity to develop. It really feels that through projects like this we are investing in our own foundations, supporting our organization to become stronger and more stable in order to reach our objectives more fully as we grow.

EU Aid Volunteers (3)

When I originally got involved with SPI, I was spending all my time connecting with the community, coordinating volunteers and playing with kids! I never thought that only a few short years later I would be spending so much of my time thinking about security procedures, developing policies or discussing the strategic future of SPI and forming key project partnerships. However, this is where the journey has taken us all, and I can now more fully appreciate the importance of all of the ‘behinds the scenes’ operations that are so necessary in bringing an active, vibrant, safe and growing community center like ours to life!

It has been, and continues to be, my pleasure to participate in and see the growth of our community, our team and our organization so closely and intimately. It has taught me numerous lessons, both personal and professional, and through it all I have had the privilege to meet and work with so many wonderful people.

Whilst the landscape around me looks vastly different these days, it is still just as exciting and inspiring to be part of this community, to have the opportunity to learn from and contribute to these Small Projects, as we grow stronger together each day.

written by

Shannon Kay

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Co-Director - Shannon comes from Australia but her lifelong passion for travel and immersing herself in new places inspired her to undertake a degree in International Studies, which led her to Istanbul. Here she has developed a strong interest in and connection to Turkish and Middle Eastern people and politics. Shannon believes in the power of education as a tool for transformation, and sees Small Projects Istanbul as a platform to achieve great things in the local Syrian community in Turkey and the wider Syrian diaspora.

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