25 Jul 2024
What it takes to volunteer in Sweden
Volunteering Work & Money

What it takes to volunteer in Sweden

This week Claire Thomas shares her experience of how she is approaching raising the funds for the ‘English Volunteering Project’ run through Volontärbyrån, Sweden’s Volunteer Organization.

Claire has offically moved into her office in the Volontärbyrån headquarter. She writes: “I have to say that it is wonderful being back in a work environment again. For the last two years (in Frankfurt and then Stockholm) I’ve kept myself busy and useful, but it’s always been somewhat ad hoc. Now I have a desk and an office (which officially I share with someone, but she’s never here). I also have work colleagues who are lovely, and most importantly, something to focus and work on (that isn’t a language I have to learn). It’s all good for the confidence levels.”

So now her office is set-up, official business cards have been printed, but what’s her next step? Oh yes, she needs to raise the funds to get the project off the ground. Below she writes her the beginning of her fundraising journey.

“Step one in the English Volunteering Project is to see what kind of support (both financial and general) we can drum up. This involves doing lots of internet research into international clubs, embassies, companies, non-Swedish non-profit organisations and anyone else who might be interested in being involved with the project.

It also involves a lot of emails, and a lot of follow-up phonecalls. Follow-up phonecalls are one of my least favourite things to do, but they are essential. My hardest cultural adjustment in Sweden has been learning that I must call people if I want anything to happen. It’s simply not good enough to send off an email and then wait for a response. This isn’t something that is bad about Swedes, it’s just a different way of doing things, and one that I have to get my head around if I’m to live here successfully.

I try to practise a little what I’m going to say before I pick up the phone; thinking over my opening lines and the key points in my head, and if necessary saying them out loud – there is a good chance my colleagues think I’m slightly mad. I also make sure that I’ve done some research on the person or organisation I’m calling and have any documents or websites that might be useful during the call open on the computer in front of me.

Then it’s a big breath. And then maybe a second one (as I’m still far too good at putting off making the calls) and, ‘Hello, my name is Claire Thomas, I’m calling about a project I’m starting up with Volontärbyrån to help English speakers find volunteering opportunities with non-profit organisations in Stockholm. Is there someone I could speak to about this?’ Once I’ve got that first sentence out, the rest tends to flow better.

I’ve had some great conversations as a result, and some really quite disappointing ones. But, so far, no one has said that this project is a bad idea, and most people have been really positive about it. And those are the conversations I’m going to choose to remember.”

By Claire Thomas

[email protected]

Check back in a few weeks to hear more about Claire’s progress.

Claire Thomas was born in Hong Kong, grew up in Northern Ireland and has lived in Scotland, England, Germany and now Sweden (where she hopes to stay for a good long while). In this blog she shares her experience of setting up a project focused on helping non-Swedish speakers to find volunteering opportunities with non-profit organisations in Stockholm.

If you are interested in the project you can contact Claire by email at [email protected]

Like us on Facebook to follow the project’s development – go to ‘The English Volunteering Project in Stockholm’.

The project is part of Volontärbyrån  www.volontarbyran.org

Your Living City loves to learn about our readers experiences & ideas and hear their stories. If you have something to say or want to share about your Swedish journey, send us a mail with a writing sample and we will get back to you shortly.

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