Amid the buzz of a colourful awards ceremony, the Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies of Spain, Iran and Hong Kong were announced as the recipients of the 2013 Volunteering Development Awards. Thse awards recognise the efforts, dedication and innovative thinking of volunteers contributing to humanitarian work around the world.
This year the Spanish Red Cross was awarded for its innovative use of technology for managing volunteers, following the success of their online volunteer management database. This efficient online platform allows users to locate trained volunteers quickly and to filter them by criteria such as experience, skillsets and language abilities. The database has also been merged with mobile phone and other application technologies to provide quicker, more efficient assistance to those in need. Registered volunteers, for example, can receive SMS alerts about upcoming opportunities, and other public services such as remote medical care and assistance for the hearing-impaired are available through mobile phones.
Volunteers from the Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran were recognised for their work with the elderly through the Volunteer Management in Urban Environments award. This new initiative brings help to over a million elderly people living in urban areas who find themselves alone or isolated from community activities and services. A strong pool of volunteers, including specialists such as nurses and doctors, provide services to elderly people including medical visits, shopping, repair work and social events. The volunteers say the urban environment volunteer project has demonstrated the importance of volunteer engagement in community initiatives.
The Hong Kong Red Cross took home the award for outstanding contributions to Volunteer Management in Emergencies. The award recognised its highly effective system of volunteer outreach and mobilization during times of emergency. In all, its 22,000 volunteers, comprised of people from all sectors of society, are always ready for mobilization to offer help from frontline relief actions to back-office support during local as well as overseas emergencies. Its skilled volunteers with professional backgrounds have joined emergency health and ERU missions to China, Haiti and Indonesia, among others. The judges noted that the initiative is impressively comprehensive, covering all aspects of operations and effective service delivery.
"The recipients of the Volunteering Development Awards are all fine examples of the dedication and innovation we have amongst our volunteer network," said Bekele Geleta, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. "The volunteers are the backbone of our global Movement and we must never underestimate the critical impact of their achievements.”