With the new year and its share of good resolutions, one may be tempted to want to get more involved. So if you would like to give some of your time as a volunteer, here is a list (not exhaustive) of 17 associations offering punctual or regular missions.
According to a study carried out, nearly 20 million French people carry out volunteer missions, including 13 million in associations alone. Young people, in particular, are becoming more and more involved in associations, in an effort to give more meaning to their daily lives.
– The Red Cross: Founded in 1859, the Red Cross intervenes throughout the world to carry out humanitarian missions for underprivileged populations or victims of conflicts. On a smaller scale, the French Red Cross relies on more than 60,000 volunteers to participate in food distribution and first aid operations for the most disadvantaged, or to run its vestiboutiques, places where families in difficulty can be welcomed and listened to.
– Oxfam France: Internationally, the NGO runs citizen mobilization and counter-lobbying campaigns with economic and political leaders. It also devotes itself to carrying out humanitarian actions and development projects in the poorest countries that are particularly affected by the consequences of global warming. In France, it has opened several solidarity stores and bookstores in Paris, Lille and Strasbourg. Its volunteers receive and sort donations of clothing and books made by individuals before selling them. They take advantage of this opportunity to raise public awareness of the themes it carries.
– WWF: Since 1961, the World Wildlife Fund has been working around the world to halt environmental degradation and build a world where man can live in greater harmony with nature. At the local level, it proposes specific missions that are easy to carry out, such as cleaning up natural sites or participating in awareness campaigns. The only small obligation is to attend introductory meetings before becoming a volunteer. These are held twice a month in Paris and once or twice a quarter in Lyon. But it is also possible to attend them remotely.
– Unicef: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is responsible for defending the rights of children around the world and acting for their protection. It gives priority to the most vulnerable, those who are victims of conflicts, natural disasters or exploitation. At a more local level, its volunteers carry out awareness-raising missions in schools to inform the youngest children about children’s rights. They also help organize communication events and run stands selling the association’s products.
THOSE THAT HELP THE MOST DISADVANTAGED
– Les Restos du cœur: Since its foundation by the actor Coluche in 1985, the association has been working to help disadvantaged populations. As such, volunteer missions range from distributing meals during marauding events to collecting food and basic necessities, as well as providing day care in its centers. You can of course accompany cultural outings, give French lessons or provide school support to children from the most disadvantaged families.
– Entraides citoyennes: The association was founded in 2011 in Paris with the aim of providing assistance to homeless people and victims of exclusion. Its volunteers are called upon to participate in marauds, with distribution of clothing and meals, but also to teach French to immigrant populations and help them with their administrative procedures. It should be noted, however, that the organization only operates in the Paris region.
– Le Secours populaire : The association is involved in many areas, including food aid, keeping the poor in their homes and professional integration. As a volunteer, you will be able to welcome the most destitute in its reception centers as well as receive a child from an underprivileged family to give him or her a few days of vacation.
-Refettorio : If you live in Paris and have time to give, you can make a commitment to this solidarity restaurant, located in the crypt of the Madeleine church. Launched by the starred Italian chef Massimo Bottura, its mission is to use unsold food to offer every evening, from Monday to Friday, gastronomic meals to people in precarious situations. Volunteers are called upon to serve the dishes, clean the room, and even cook.
– The Salvation Army: Born in 1878 in England, the association was established in France in 1881, where it was recognized as being of public utility. Like Secours populaire, it relies on its volunteers to ensure the daily distribution of meals to the most vulnerable people. It also works for the integration of victims of social exclusion by helping them find jobs and training. Finally, it offers volunteers the opportunity to lead cultural workshops, which are real places of exchange between them and its beneficiaries.
THOSE WHO HELP PEOPLE IN SITUATIONS OF EXCLUSION
– Le Refuge : For 16 years, the association has been providing support to young LGBT people aged 18 to 25, victims of homophobia and at odds with their families. It offers them a reassuring environment where they can rebuild their lives. Established in all the main cities in France, it relies on its nearly 400 volunteers to shelter and support this population in distress and to restore their confidence.
– Wake Up Café: This association started from a simple observation: access to culture enables prisoners to better reintegrate into working life on their release from prison and to limit recidivism. Volunteers are called upon to lead cultural and creative workshops or talk and exchange groups, with a view to helping participants discover a talent or simply open up to other perspectives. At the same time, Wake Up Café conducts awareness-raising campaigns among business leaders to change their perception of former prisoners.
– Association Aurore: Founded in 1871, it provides care and accommodation to people in precarious or excluded situations. Recognized as a public utility since 1875, it works in partnership with the State, the regions and local authorities to best carry out its missions. Volunteers are called upon to lead workshops, give French classes or take part in marauding activities. In 2018, it has also set up a program to promote the integration of refugees, and all its offers of assignments, whether one-off or regular, are posted on its website.
– Little Brothers of the Poor: Enabling isolated elderly people to recreate a sense of belonging is the mission that the association has been pursuing since its foundation in 1946. Its 13,000 volunteers make visits to the homes of the most fragile to bring them out of their isolation and welcome them to its vacation homes and places of accommodation. They also organize collective activities and events, with the same desire to break the loneliness of victims of exclusion.
THOSE WHO HELP CHILDREN
– Entraide Scolaire Amicale: The objective of this association is to fight against failure at school. The volunteers commit themselves to provide school support to a child for at least one hour a week. By accompanying them and opening them up to the world, they also contribute to restoring their self-confidence. But they also work with parents to help them become more aware of the challenges of school work. And the missions are assigned according to the volunteers’ place of work or home.
– Petits Princes: Since November 1987, the Petits Princes association has been working with sick children. Its role is to enable them to realize one or more of their dreams, while adapting to the rhythm of their treatment and hospitalization. There are several types of volunteer missions, ranging from the preparation and realization of patients’ dreams to the setting up of communication and public awareness tools for the general public. Be careful, however, it requires a real commitment in the duration of its volunteers.
THOSE WHO HELP MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES
– Utopia 56: The Utopia 56 association was created in Brittany in 2016, with the aim of providing a framework for volunteer initiatives in the Calais jungle. Since then, it has multiplied its actions with migrants and refugees in several major cities (Calais, Lille, Paris, Rennes, Tours and Toulouse). Maraudes, help with the distribution of meals or sleeping bags, legal and social support are just some of the missions it entrusts to its 12,000 volunteers.
– Cimade: Present in metropolitan France and overseas, the Inter-Movement Committee for Evacuees defends the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees. It welcomes no less than 100,000 people a year in its offices and acts in administrative detention centers to inform the men and women held there about their rights. It is always looking for volunteers to accompany these refugees in their legal procedures, to pass on their knowledge of French culture and language, or to participate in communication campaigns. And for more clarity on what it is possible to do, it lists on its website its most urgent volunteer missions.