At the end of June, the European Guild and the Humanitarian Logistics Association (HLA) decided to organise an exchange between their Civic Service volunteers, working on the “Volunteering in Humanitarian Aid” Project (VolinHA project). The aim of this exchange was to review what had been done by HLA and what had been received by the organisation during the entire project, which ends at the end of August. This exchange was the occasion for both Civic Service volunteers, Alexandra and Berenice, to share their point of view on VolinHA, and on what has been brought to their own organisation by the project.
The Humanitarian Logistics Association (HLA) is the only organisation of the Sending-Organisations Consortium to be specialised in the humanitarian aid and especially in logistics issues. They have been chosen to bring their expertise to the other partners, which are more specialised in volunteer management.
During the whole year, HLA has particularly worked with students and universities on the importance of grassroots organisations and of volunteering in humanitarian aid. They organised a dissemination event in Brussels about the refugee crisis, for which they gathered many organisations, volunteers and a refugee. They really wanted to highlight the importance of volunteering in this crisis, especially in Greece. They have produced, in partnership with students, some documents developing this point. In this research work, HLA has highlighted the priority for big NGOs to learn working with grassroots organisations. This is a priority, because grassroots organisations know the reality of the field. Thanks to this work, some solutions are given to both kinds of organisations to cooperate.
As a humanitarian aid specialist, HLA has brought its point of view, especially about the definition of humanitarian aid, and the importance of volunteering in this field. As it is written in a university research work: “The UN (2014) claim that the number of people affected by humanitarian crisis has almost doubled in the past decade (…) the number of people displaced by conflict exceeded 51 million – the highest since the Second World War.” This sentence clearly explains the importance of developing a new way of work and a new kind of humanitarian workers -the volunteers-, to adapt the humanitarian aid to the current context and to the reality. The work of NGOs is to help grassroots organisations to develop their volunteers and to train them to be operational and deployed on crises.
Thanks to the project, HLA could really understand how volunteering organisations are working and what could be improved or be inspiring for humanitarian NGOs. This exchange was the occasion for the European Guild to be immerged in the humanitarian world, since HLA’s volunteer is hosted in the British Red Cross office. The idea of the VolinHA project was to share best practices and to work all together and this is what HLA and the European Guild retain from this project. This is what HLA wanted to explain in its research work: Humanitarian NGOs and grassroots organisations need to collaborate and to share information, in logistics and in management.
VolinHA is part of the EU Aid Volunteers Initiative, which has among its objectives to deploy humanitarian volunteers. This initiative gives sustainable skills to volunteers, who are trained in humanitarian aid and in project management. This new wave of humanitarian workers needs to be supported by NGOs, whether those volunteers are international volunteers or local volunteers from grassroots organisations.
 A grassroots organisation is a self-organised group of individuals pursuing common interests through a volunteer-based, non-profit organisation.
 The research work refers to the dissertation of George Cox from Aston University with the title ‘Closing the procurement gap between non-governmental organisations and grassroots organisations’, 2017.