To lend a hand by volunteering is a wonderful way to give back to society, to show your love for animals, or to assist those who do this tireless work on a full time basis. There are lots of ways to be involved.
France’s emergency response and crisis management system covers risk prevention of all kinds, information and public alerts, and the protection of people, property and the environment against accidents, damage and disaster. Many of these functions are carried out by local Sapeur Pompiers (firefighters).
Incredibly, volunteers make up 79% of Sapeur Pompiers in France. Known as SPVs their tasks are varied and include firefighting, dealing with roadside assistance and accidents, rescue operations and emergency medical response. Aged between 16 and 60 and in good physical and medical health, volunteers need to be resident in France, able to cover at least six “shouts” a month and be willing to undertake 30 days of training over 1 to 3 years. Whilst doctors, pharmacists, nurses, vets and psychologists form part of the volunteer force, anyone can become involved, taking on specific tasks as and when training is completed.
Animal Shelters and Charities
Whether you love donkeys, dogs, cats or horses, etc., there’s a wealth of animal shelters and charities crying out for help to keep rescued, mistreated or lost animals safe, happy and healthy. Many of the animals are reunited with their owners or are found new, loving homes but need company and care in the meantime. It may be cleaning out the bedding, taking them for a walk, grooming and feeding them or even providing office support but a helping pair of hands will be welcomed with open arms.
La Croix Rouge has a catalogue of opportunities to suit the amount of time that volunteers can donate in order to lend a hand. It might be during the day, in the evening or at the weekend from less than two hours to 20 hours a week, and covers a wide range of skills such as transport support, emergency care, first aid, food aid, care for the elderly, Alzheimer’s support and specific project management. Volunteers receive training and can specify their preferred type of activity and the time they have available in their chosen department on the website, or visit the nearest centre to find out more.
Cancer Support France
This network of independent associations throughout France provides support for English-speakers of any nationality. It welcomes volunteers to help spread the word about their work, become a trained volunteer and support those with cancer and their families and carers, or to help at events and with publicity. New to its mission is the provision of emotional support for any English-speaking person who is elderly, isolated, vulnerable or who has health problems. CSF also provides assistance to UK nationals who are currently resident in France and need help in establishing post Brexit residency and healthcare rights.
Losing a partner, relative or friend that we love is difficult enough without doing so in a foreign country where, perhaps, the language can be a barrier. English-speaking volunteers in organisations such as the Bereavement Support Network (BSN) help those who are bereaved, need end of life support, or who are caring for someone with a terminal illness to cope, both practically and emotionally. Volunteers, who have all experienced the loss of a loved one and/or the stresses surrounding terminal illness, are trained and supervised to provide support and information during a meeting, telephone contact or video-call.
Volunteers take part in workshops for patients and families, short holiday stays and provide support via the phone hotlines. Removing the feelings of isolation and offering a presence, volunteers, whatever their skills, qualities or motivation, have an essential role in helping families to better cope with the disease. Training is provided free to suit the role, whether it be welcoming and listening to families or organising activities, etc.
Many of these organisations need your help and support right now. To volunteer or make a donation contact:
www.chatsduquercy.fr (rehoming cats and kittens)
www.les-amis-des-chats.com (cat welfare)
www.boncoeur47.fr (fund raising for good causes)
www.phoenixasso.com (animals in need)
www.associationacorn.com (cat rescue)
www.bsnvar.org (bereavement support)
www.francealzheimer.org/dordogne (dementia support)
www.lesamisdesanimaux.com (dogs and cats)
www.cancersupportfrance.org (cancer support)
www.la-spa.fr (animal protection)
www.croix-rouge.fr (support and aid)
www.auberge4pattes.com (animal refuge)
www.pompiers.fr (sapeur pompiers)
www.petalert.fr (lost and found pets)
www.aafrance.net (Alcoholics Anonymous)
First published in the Feb-Apr 2021 issue of The Local Buzz