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Future Law Must Regulate Spontaneous Volunteering, Bulgarian Red Cross Deputy Director General Tells BTA

Bulgarian Red Cross (BRC) Deputy Director General Slavita Djambazova said in a BTA interview that the future law on volunteering should regulate spontaneous volunteering. “Spontaneous volunteers act on an ad hoc basis, they organize themselves to help in a particular cause, and they are very valuable and important,” Dr Djambazova argued. In her words, this type of volunteering is growing worldwide.
All drafts of a volunteering law, including the first one of 2006, omit spontaneous volunteering, she added. A sensible draft was made in 2012 and it has been more or less reproduced since then, but the conditions and manners of volunteering have changed. “We now hope again that such a law will be adopted, and it is being drafted by a working groip,” she added. 
The interviewee explained that ever more often people want to volunteer on a case-by-case basis, and they do not need to be attached to a particular institution. She cited the dozens of people who used their own cars to shop and deliver food to the homes of individuals quarantined during the COVID pandemic.
Apart from spontaneous voluneers, there are also short-term volunteers who get involved sporadically in various situations to help those in need of assistance. The third group, where the BRC volunteers mostly belong, are long-term volunteers. They need to be provided with long-term training to acquire professional-level skills, especially when they are exposed to a hazardous environment. They also need adequate protective equipment and insurance. All this should be regulated by legislation, and the State should commit to invest in this process.
The law should address the when and the how of volunteering in extreme situations, Dr Djambazova pointed out. Volunteers of the BRC Mountain Rescue Service complain that they are severely impeded from participating in rescue operations because they hold another full-time job. They cannot do so without incurring sanctions from their employer because their status is not legally regulated. Legislation should also deal with situations in which numerous people volunteering for another organization are employed by the same employer, so as to safeguard the employer’s interests as well. “All this needs to be balanced in a sensible way,” the interviewee argued.
Unless the future law provides for proper conditions for volunteering, a large part of volunteers will give up and there will be no long-term volunteers, Dr Djambazova warned. Volunteering needs proper management: guidance, care, teaching expert skills, systematic refresher training, debriefing after stressful situations, arranging insurance, clothing, incentives and retention, the BRC Deputy Executive Director told BTA. She noted the need of investment in volunteering for all organizations using volunteers.