Case study: Khora

CHALLENGE:

Creating an engaging environment that engages volunteers and maintains commitment.

HOW WAS THE CHALLENGE AFFECTING THEM AND/OR THE PEOPLE THEY WERE HELPING:

A lack of volunteers & volunteer engagement means:

  • Drop out rate:
    • Volunteers being disengaged leads to dropping out or underperforming.
  • Lack of manpower:
    • Not having enough people to implement all the programs and activities that run in the Khora community centre.
  • Gaps in the long-term plan:
    • International volunteers only come for a limited time and each needs training.

All of these affect regularity and quality of services on which refugees can no longer rely on.

NAME OF ORGANIZATION:

Khora Community Centre

TYPE OF ORGANIZATION:

Social coop

DESCRIBE THE TEAM:

Khora is a humanitarian co-operative in Athens, Greece,  running a community centre for refugees, locals and volunteers with a non-hierarchical structure that incorporates community integration and self-organization.

They offer services including: Greek and English classes, a computer lab,, legal support, a women’s safe space, etc. run by intermittent and permanent volunteers. Their community kitchen serves a large family-style lunch daily with the help of refugee volunteers and locals.

LOCATION OF ACTIVITY:

Athens, Greece

DESCRIBE THE SOLUTION (what actions did they take, resources they used):

Khora can be described as a “volunteering friendly” space.
The volunteering structure at core simultaneously creates easy to join one-off volunteering slots and the ability of any volunteer to join in the decision-making process.
The drop-in opportunities and the ability for anyone to create a project under the Khora umbrella increase the sense of community that makes it more likely to attract volunteers.

Easy to understand & join

  • Khora’s website and Facebook page effectively describe its mission, values and work
  • There’s a list of needed skills from potential volunteers, and
  • Emphasis on flexibility and shared work.
  • Guidance, trainings and learning opportunities to new volunteers.
  • Activities such as the daily cooking & lunch service are open to anyone

Open meetings

Anyone can suggest an activity or project and taken ownership of it. High level of independence for each cluster focusing on designing their own activities under the overall umbrella.

  • Open monthly meetings
  • Weekly all-team meetings
  • Separate “cluster” meetings for each stream of activities (education, women’s space, dental etc.)
  • Host “consensus workshops” to support the approach used in each of its working group meetings.

Diverse, together.

Khora takes advantage of having volunteers from diverse cultural backgrounds to create a “positive model of collective co-working”.
The interaction between volunteers, locals, refugees, young/old, men/women builds a sense of togetherness.

IMPACT IN NUMBERS (How ​many ​people ​benefiting ​from ​this solution? ​How ​many ​deliveries ​did ​they make? ​How ​many ​classes? ​How ​many meals ​cooked?):

Khora team serves around 140 portions at each lunch. They manage to attract newcomer as well as local and other international volunteers.

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND:

DOs

  • BEING CENTRALLY LOCATED
  • PROMOTING THE “easy to join” slots through social media
  • Making the community meetings an opportunity for recruitment & new projects.
  • Choose a social media tool that everyone uses frequently for internal day-to-day communications Helps keep volunteers in the loop, whether they commit full days or only drop in. It increases engagement.
  • They require a minimum of three weeks of volunteering and a commitment to taking on responsibility and multifaceted roles.

CHALLENGES

  • A complicated structure
    • Having so many sub-groups and voices can make it difficult for people to know what’s going on. It can alienate people. Make sure to communicate clearly to your volunteers when a decision is made.
  • Uneven performance
    • Since volunteers drop in and out, they can miss out on new developments. They might also forget or get rusty regarding their training. Think about ways to keep people in the loop or having quick updates at the beginning over every activity.
  • Measuring Impact
    • Having an open to any structure also means that not all projects will be at the same level. Think about quality metrics that everyone agrees projects/coordinators/volunteers should meet. Agree on them in advance.

WHY IS IT A SMART AID?

  • DIGNITY
    • Refugees are involved in the running of daily operations, especially the kitchen, where refugees are served family style, omitting the queue that reduces dignity. People are all treated with respect and given opportunity to participate as equals.
  • COLLABORATION
    • Khora acts as an umbrella organisation to offer space for other teams to implement projects. They collaborate small NGOs like HelpRefugees, RefuComm and Holes in the Borders.
  • SCALABILITY
    • Founding volunteers brought solutions from previous volunteer experiences at large camps; they scaled and reframed learned techniques to a sustainable community center

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