VERSO

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Political Board Member ms. Aikaterini Ramioti

Member of the Project Political Board Aikaterini Ramioti from the Hellenic Red Cross, Social Welfare Service of Ioannina

The Hellenic Red Cross is the largest non-governmental organization in Greece, with a complex mission based on voluntary action and direct response by citizens. Its aim is to relieve human suffering in time of war and peace, supporting the wounded, the sick, refugees, the elderly, the poor and people from every vulnerable population group. Its actions are based on vigilance, solidarity and altruism and it is synonymous to disinterested service and selflessness.

The Hellenic RC has 75 branches in big cities and 42 committees in smaller towns in all regions of the country. The branches are run by boards appointed by the society’s Central Administrative Board. The administrative boards of the branches consist of 7-11 members and the committees consist of 3-5 members. 

The branches and the committees have volunteer nurses, social welfare volunteers and Samaritans (first-aiders).

The administrative board of the Regional Branch of Ioannina is made up of by eleven members all of whom are volunteers.

There is also hired staff which consists of

  • 2 Administrative assistants
  • 2 Nurses and
  • 1 Social Worker

I was hired, as a social worker, in the Hellenic Red Cross, in the regional social welfare service of Ioannina, in 1999. I was very happy because I believe it is one of the most important organizations in the country performing and providing social welfare services and actions for the benefit of people in need.

The regional social welfare service deal with many fields. To start with, it identifies the cases of urgent social need and supports them both psychologically and socially. Moreover, it develops community and social support programmes for people who are in need.

Never should it be omitted the important role it plays when it intervenes in emergency cases, such as in natural or other disasters or even in mass arrivals.

Furthermore it organizes special events such as bazaars and intercultural activities. Last but not least it is involved in Volunteer Management.

Regarding the Volunteer Management I’ m responsible in the following actions and activities:

I’ m involved in the recruiting process of the volunteers and their pre-service training and orientation. Part of my duty is also to place and motivate these people in specific voluntary activities which are designed and planned by me.

In addition my supervision and retention are important as well as organizing ceremonies and any other activities.

Finally the evaluation of the volunteer performance is part of my job.

Every year, in the Regional Social Welfare Service of Ioannina approximately 25 volunteers are recruited, trained and supervised in order to develop and reinforce their potential and creative skills. At a prevention level, the volunteers of the Social Welfare Service are trained at a three- month basic training programme in order to gain knowledge and experience to offer their voluntary service to people in need for instance families and children, elderly people, the disabled or homeless people, prisoners, patients, refugees or migrants. They also support minority groups by providing them everyday lifeskills and helping them to confront their difficulties. Under the social worker’ s guidance, volunteers are asked to perform their volunteer work in running social care projects, either in the Social Welfare Service or in cooperation with other GO and NGO agencies. (Government and non-government organizations)

Voluntary services include many aspects but the core areas have to do with home visits to the people in need. Also they participate in helping in the Centers with mentally or physically disabled, in rehabilitation centres for juvenile delinquents and in old people’s homes.

An equally important field has to do with institutions such as hospitals, psychiatric centres, orphanages and the support of cancer patients. Of course their presence is assistive and in no way do they replace professionals.

Lastly they support youngsters with extra homework classes and refuges and migrants with a variety of programmes.

For all the above to be accomplished companionship and psychosocial support are provided by the volunteers. Moreover they escort people to hospital or agencies and they help them perform everyday tasks such as bill payment, shopping or even meal preparation.

Recreational activities are also carried out by the volunteers. For instance promenades in parks or the sea, museum visits, attending churches, exhibitions or cultural events.

Adding to the above entertaining is also included through games, drawing and even dancing courses.

Last but not least they provide Greek and foreign language courses and even supportive teaching in school lessons.

At the same time, the Social Welfare Volunteers take part in specific actions organized by the Regional Social Welfare Service, such as food distribution to vulnerable groups, blood donations and national holidays.

Regarding my personal contribution to the VERSO Project, I believe that my experience with volunteer management and the established collaboration with local authorities and organizations will contribute to the fulfillment of the programme’s goals.

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Revised 2014.02.21