According to the European Volunteer Centre, volunteerism is a means of social integration and fulfillment achievement that contributes to the social cohesion by creating bonds of trust and solidarity while investing in the social capital. It is one of the ways with which people coming from all the socio-economic classes and ages can contribute to the positive development and change, it can be used as a tool promoting active and responsible social participation and the individual’s social networks, while it comprises a major power able to reinforce the local development and Civil Society.
Thus, in an era of ever increasing natural and technological disasters, it is volunteerism that acquires significant value by underlying the need for social solidarity and unselfish offer in the field of civil protection, where the immediate aid offer during the occurrence of such phenomena is extremely urgent.
The General Secretariat for Civil Protection (GSCP) is the national integration agency of Voluntary Organizations (VOs) and Expert Volunteers (EVs) to keep a register for the implementation of the above – mentioned purpose. The VOs and EVs are included in the human resources of civil protection to be in charge of supporting disaster prevention, response and recovery actions.
In the VOs Register there can be integrated non-profit legal entities or unions of persons as well as group of volunteers who offer their services in the Local Administration, on condition that their constitution or proven action clearly suggests that they have been recently taking action in the field of civil protection.
In the EVs Register there can be integrated natural persons, which due to the nature of their professional or scientific employment or proven experience can fully respond to the duty of prevention, response and recovery of natural and technological disasters.
It is underlined that the VOs and EVs also include volunteers being active in the context of the mission of the Hellenic Fire Service, with the exception of those defined by Act 1951/1991.
The Act 3013/2002, which concerns the upgrade of the role of civil protection in Greece, institutionalized the Civil Protection Volunteerism System for the response to natural and technological disasters, whose pilot implementation had already started since 2001.
More specifically, Article 14 of the Act 3013/2002 as in compliance with paragraph 3 of Article 27 of the Act 3536/2007 and modified with the provision of paragraph 3 of Article 18 of the Act 3613/2007 regulates the following issues:
• The VOs and EVs Register of civil protection
• The general prerequisites to be met for enrollment in the above-mentioned registers
• The operational integration of the VOs in the Coordinative Civil Protection Bodies (CCPBs)
• The reinforcement of the VOs’ actions and the provision of equipment and means
• The future issuing of Administrative Regulations aiming at the integration of the legal framework of volunteerism in matters relating:
1) the enrollment, rating, evaluation of the VOs,
2) the training and accreditation of the volunteers,
3) their insurance coverage and allowances.