Online support for volunteers

Instructions for our free and customisable online seminar:

Volunteering at Europe's (external) borders

Welcome to our Online Seminar

for your volunteer work!


This is a short guide on how to use our Online Seminar for volunteers who want to support asylum and protection seekers at Europes (external) borders!

What is this about?

The online seminar aims to enable you to critically and reflectively deal with your volunteer work in the field of support work with people seeking protection in Europe. We want to support you (inter)actively in understanding your own positioning as a volunteer and provide you with orientation points and information so that you can organise your volunteer work as sustainably and solidarily as possible.

How does it work?

You can work through the units one after the other, but you do not necessarily have to follow the order. Your interest depends on your previous knowledge and whether you already have concrete plans for volunteering, are already involved, simply want to inform yourself, or perhaps want to process current/past work. Therefore, you are free to choose, which units you are interested in and what you want to engage with.


  • The seminar is structured in a way that you can equip yourself with important background knowledge, get practical advice and we offer you approaches for reflection. There is no chronological order. Instead, you can go through the seminar individually according to your interests and needs, like with a construction kit.
  • The three units are each divided into several sub-units that accompany different information and reflection processes around the volunteer experience.

Wichtig, zu wissen

The online seminar was mainly designed by white people without flight experience. This means that it is a self-reflection of people who grew up in Europe and does not reflect the perspectives of people seeking protection who are affected by restrictive European border policies. In addition, some units are intended to stimulate reflection, especially for people who do not experience racism. These are marked accordingly.

Background: Who are we?

Our team "Education", which designed this online seminar, consists of former volunteers who were active in supporting refugees and people seeking protection in Northern Greece, Serbia or Sicily at various times between 2016 and 2021 and are currently still active in Germany. We have experienced different phases and sides of the support landscape with protection seekers in Europe and have compiled our knowledge from our experiences and challenges in this online seminar.

Our experiences in Greece 2016-2021

A few of us were there in 2016 when the unofficial camp Idomeni, where up to 16,000 refugees were stranded, was established in Greece at the northern Macedonian border due to the closure of the so-called Balkan route. At that time, people from all over Europe, among them a few from Wind, travelled to Idomeni to show solidarity with the people, to assist to build up structures for basic care. In this context, we became aware of the importance of volunteering, but also of the many challenges and dangers of lack of organisation and preparation that come with it.

In the following years, some of us have been in Greece at different times, working mainly with the grassroots organisation InterEuropean Human Aid Association (IHA) in the Thessaloniki area, but also with other small organisations in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In recent years, we have seen that the structures of volunteering are changing, but remain essential in providing basic services and support to people. Since there has been little action on the part of political actors in recent years to change or ease the situation, the voluntary support organisations take on an important civil responsibility, but must also reflect on their actions accordingly.
Support of volunteers

Together with many friends within the volunteer community, we see a great need to accompany and support volunteers in this context. This is for the benefit and protection of you as volunteers, but also and mainly for the protection of the people you work with.

Since 2018, we have been supporting volunteers who work with refugees and asylum seekers in Greece. Some of us have also been involved in volunteer recruitment and volunteer coordination on site for a few months. In 2018 and 2019, we offered weekend seminars for volunteers regarding their preparation as well as follow-up and return seminars. These are the contents which we have edited and summarised here to make them publicly available. 2023 we have revised this content in detail.

Of course we do not claim that this information is exhaustive, as we refer to our limited range of experience. Nevertheless, we have gained the impression that these contents are equally important and applicable in some other comparable contexts. However, we would be happy to hear from you if you have any suggestions for improvement or additions that you bring with you from your experience as a volunteer! All in all, we sincerely hope that you can benefit from our experiences and that this Online Seminar can provide you with exciting and important impulses and hints.

Background knowledge

If you want to support refugees, you should deal with certain topics and questions. Therefore, we have put together a mixture of advice and theoretical background knowledge.
1. Volunteer Work in the Context of European Border Policies

In which context do you find yourself as a volunteer working with People on the Move? What are the different forms of organisation and what should solidarity support work (not) look like? In this unit, we will look at how aid organisations, initiatives and solidarity groups that support refugees are structured and why it is relevant to engage with these structures in order to do volunteering in solidarity.

Click here for the unit
2. Racism, Eurocentrism
White Saviourism, Voluntourism

As a volunteer in support work for people on the move, we think it is very important to critically engage with certain aspects of racism and the concepts of Eurocentrism, voluntourism and so-called "white saviourism". Don't be put off by the complicated terms if you don't know them. Click on the respective concepts for a short definition and an explanation of why they play an important role in this context. Parts of the unit are designed primarily for people from the Global North who do not experience racism.

Click here for the unit
3. Political and social situation
for people on the move in Europe

The social and political situation of people on the move at Europe's (external) borders is a complex issue that requires consideration of historical, political, social, and legal realities. Jurisdictions and political practices at the borders change frequently. Therefore, we provide a brief overview of the most important developments and regulations. For further interest and questions, we refer to other organisations that deal with these developments on a daily basis and for a long time, and thus can present them much better.

Click here for the unit
4. The meaning of terms

What language and terms are used influences how we think about what is said. It is therefore important to look at what terms are used. We have created a small glossary to outline what we mean by the terms we use.

Click here for the unit

Practical Work

Information and recommendations for concrete support work.
5. How and where can I get engaged?

What should you pay attention to when you are looking to becoming active yourself? Without any contacts, projects, groups or organisations are sometimes hard to find. Here you can find references on where and how you can find possibilities to get involved.

Click here for the unit
6. Suggestions for working with people in precarious living conditions

Engaging in support projects in the context of forced migration and border policies also means working with people who are forced to live in precarious living conditions and who are and have been exposed to various forms of violence and discrimination. What does this mean for your actions? In this unit we will give you information on important topics such as power relations and trauma-sensitive action.

Click here for the unit
7. Public Outreach

Your volunteer work with people seeking protection can be combined with public outreach to raise awareness about the situation at the (external) borders. In this unit, we would like to draw your attention to some important pitfalls, challenges but also potentials of public outreach in this context.

Click here for the unit
8. Fundraising

In this unit, we provide some insights into fundraising strategies and tips. Since you may not have had any experience with fundraising, we present a few ideas and suggestions on how you can start a small fundraiser to support your project with donations before, during or after your work.

Click here for the unit


To reflect on your experiences and your own self-care during or after ending your volunteer work. Suggestions for reflection and sustainable processing for further volunteering.
9. Selfcare

Selfcare is an important part of sustainable activism and engagement. We have collected some information and tips that can help you to take more care of your own wellbeing while working as a volunteer (and also in everyday life).

Click here for the unit
10. Reflection & Processing of Volunteer Work

The time on the ground usually goes by quickly and is so eventful that there is often no time for intensive consideration of your experiences and reflection on it. Back at home in familiar surroundings, many thoughts can therefore come crashing down on you at once. Processing what you have experienced can take some time and emotion. We have some options for you here that might help you process and reflect. Just look at the different ideas and choose something suitable for you.

Click here for the unit

Questions? Critical feedback? Ideas? Additions?

We are very happy to receive feedback and helpful hints from you! Just email us:

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