With volunteering, we get to places others can’t

05 December 2021

Reconnecting with young people in vulnerable situations through dance, working in soup kitchens, supporting people with functional diversity, etc. Volunteering is largely about being there for other people, working together to go further than they could on their own.

Today, on the 5th of December, the UN wants to raise awareness and recognise them with World Volunteer Day. Becoming a volunteer is a personal decision, but it’s also a way of understanding our society. A culture of participation and responsibility that can push families and institutions further. 

For Marina de Torre Solano, “the interest in taking part in these activities is instilled by families and schools.” From an early age, she spent part of her time as a monitor for children with functional diversity and supporting elderly people in care home at risk of social exclusion in Southern Spain. “For me, it’s always been completely natural, something that everyone should experience,” she said. She added that, more often than not, it’s beneficial for everyone involved: “my dance lessons in Cameroon were particularly amusing; I was the teacher, but it was definitely them who were teaching me.” 

Marina de Torre Solano from an early age spent part of her time as a monitor for children with functional diversity.Marina de Torre Solano from an early age spent part of her time as a monitor for children with functional diversity.

According to Tomás Bravo Montesinos, getting involved in the world of volunteering started thanks to an initiative at CaixaBank, the institution where he works. The CBK Volunteers Association, which he belongs to, sets up connections with other associations with social programmes and organises volunteering schedules and activities. “As such, we can take part in an easy, simple and meaningful way,” he said. In his case, he has helped out at soup kitchens and by supporting other people through what they call Social Weeks. “Sharing those moments outside the workplace takes us out of our professional identities, and shows us another part of the world,” he added.

Tomás Bravo Montesinos is involved in CBK Volunteers Association.Tomás Bravo Montesinos is involved in CBK Volunteers Association.

Furthermore, these activities are an opportunity to discover the “true heroes and heroines that have created these bonds between different social realities as the centre of their lives,” Tomás acknowledged. There are actually a lot of volunteers who start by spending one afternoon, and then get involved in a deeper way with the organisation where they're collaborating.
 
After the start of the pandemic, some charities haven’t been able to keep up with their volunteering programmes because of new protocols. However, Marina, like many other people in the sector, still believes that they are now more necessary than ever. She said that everyone needs contact, primarily groups that are especially driven by sensory stimulation and company. That’s why she recommends taking part in volunteering actions. “It really helps to understand how we live in a globalised world, and that everyone should have the same rights. It’s everyone’s mission to fight for that.” 
 
However, despite the importance of personal contact, virtual space is not always in conflict with volunteering. Last year, CaixaBank created a virtual Social Week, in which over 11,000 participants from 11 social institutions were able to take part in the activities they planned. The pandemic also drove them to create the first Digital Volunteer Day dedicated to the environment.
 

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