South Africa: Volunteer Centre

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South Africa: Volunteer Centre

The Volunteer Centre is a long established non-profit organization with its head office in Cape Town, South Africa. For the past 30 years it has cultivated relationships with communities on a national and international scale and has served volunteer-centered organizations’ efforts in the Western, Eastern and Northern Cape Provinces of South Africa.

The Volunteer Centre provides local organizations, active in volunteer programming, with train-the-trainer workshops, capacity-building support and local alliance building to enhance community volunteerism in a number of areas. Most notably, Volunteer Centre services support women’s organizations, environmental movements, youth initiatives, poverty reduction projects, and public awareness campaigns.

The Volunteer Centre’s major programs are:

  • Training: the Volunteer Centre runs two types of training courses: a three-day course on effective volunteer management a five-day course on basic office & administration skills for volunteers.
  • Volunteer recruitment and referral: The volunteers have a choice of doing short or long term volunteering either in the Volunteer Centre or with various local organizations and projects. Volunteers are matched based on the requirements and needs of the organization.
  • Intergenerational Program: This program is targeted at youth and seniors in Mitchell’s Plain and aims to build a bridge between these generations.
  • Youth Programs: The Volunteer Centre runs both international and local youth programs.

In partnership with Canada World Youth

CWY and The Volunteer Centre work in partnership through the Youth Leaders in Action program. The development project implemented through this partnership focuses on assisting youth in implementing comprehensive behaviour change to reduce risks of HIV infections and reducing cases of domestic violence and substance abuse in the community. This project includes setting up a Volunteer Centre Club, a space where young people in the community can meet regularly to have fun as they learn about issues that are affecting their lives.

CWY and the Volunteer Center also offer Global Learner Internships.


Youth Engagement

  • 159 youth involved in the development projects have gained skills in event planning and management, facilitation, drama and public speaking, and have gained employability skills through a partnership with a local NGO that has provided training in project and office management, financial literacy, and other topics.
  • Increased number of youth volunteering in the community, and a greater exposure to other volunteer opportunities in the community through networking with other local organizations
  • Increased skills among local volunteers, resulting in greater confidence and resulting in more employability skills including: public speaking, leadership skills and training other volunteers.
  • The participants all showed growth in their confidence and self esteem and strengthened their ability to articulate their thoughts and opinions as well as communicate effectively and respectfully.

Education and Outreach

  • Debates and workshops on gender equity with volunteers have created a platform for women to speak out safely. This has resulted in more female volunteers taking leadership roles with increased self-confidence and more general awareness of the oppression women face in their homes and communities. The youth have become more aware of how cultural traditions contribute to gender inequity and have learned tools to challenge them.
  • Increased reach of the Volunteer Centre’s ReThink Leadership program in the Cape Town area.
  • Unified diverse ethnic and cultural groups and the creation of meaningful relationships among youth across social and economic divides.
  • Creation of educational tools (two documentaries) on teen pregnancy and human rights (gay and lesbian rights).
  • Increased awareness of issues related to HIV/AIDS and how to prevent it.

Youth Leaders Initiatives:

The health project, or development sector project, is a platform for the youth in the community to implement a comprehensive behaviour change communication action plan.

  • Mass media and community outreach the project aims to effect behaviour change and reduce the risk of HIV infection among youth and reduce cases of domestic violence and substance abuse among young people, both male and female, between 15-30 years of age.
  • Though based in Khayelitsha, the sector project youth have reached out for other youth in Mitchell’s Plain, Athlone, Vredendal and Beaufort West.

Institutional Capacity Building

  • Greater focus on management structures, including the establishment of processes to improve quality through regular internal workshops conducted with staff
  • Development of a Volunteer Management Toolkit in partnership with the Government of South Africa and the Belgian government
  • Increased capacity to manage volunteer programs: new programming development by YLA alumni to motivate and train local youth in leadership
  • Increased capacity to carry out planned activities in new and different ways. Volunteer Centre has reached more organizations and individuals to provide them opportunities for volunteering. It has also expanded its services to more stakeholders in Khayelitsha and has created new partnerships in Athlone
  • Increased networking and knowledge-sharing within the country through an introduction to other development initiatives. Volunteer Centre is now involved with NGOs in the communities, and with the introduction of the YLA programs, the Volunteer Centre has increased its network base and reach.
  • The quality and effectiveness of programming has increased.
  • Greater ability to engage volunteers for longer periods of time.

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