In Denmark there are a number of network and teams who help internationals and their families settle in Denmark when coming here. They advise on the practical of life in Denmark (housing, applying for schools, SKAT and so on) and how to manoeuvre in the Danish culture and society. They also organise social activities and often help accompanying spouses find a job.
Volunteering.dk recently asked a number of these professionals and they say that they experience internationals as interested in volunteer work when coming to Denmark. 29 % say internationals are very interested in volunteer work, and 43 % say internationals to some degree are interested.
Volunteering is a stepping stone to getting to know Denmark, our customs, the language and the people living here. Almost all the professionals working with internationals, we asked, have indicated that volunteering is a way to get to know Danish culture and is a good place to practice Danish. Volunteering is also a great way to establish a social network in Denmark; Many of the professionals indicate that volunteering also can be a good way to have a greater connection to one’s local community.
Beyond a social impact, volunteering might also alleviate internationals’ way to a paid job and half of the professionals even indicate that internationals can obtain a bigger professional network through volunteering.
Most importantly, many of the professionals indicate that volunteering is an important instrument in motivating internationals to stay in Denmark longer. Volunteering is a way to integrate in the Danish society on a more sustainable basis.
The professionals working with internationals experience a lot of interest in volunteering in connection to culture – especially in connection to cultural events. Also sport associations are very sought out.
These organisations often work with the socioeconomically advantaged internationals coming to Denmark in order to work in good jobs or do research at universities – often their spouses are also well-educated and as advantaged. Many of them have done volunteer work before - many have done social work. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that many internationals are very interested in volunteering in connection to social work with socially marginalized groups when seeking volunteer work in Denmark.
The ability to speak and understand Danish can play a factor in entering the Danish volunteering community. One participant in our survey have experienced internationals as being interested in many different voluntary areas but the actual participation in volunteering is often contingent upon the openness of the voluntary organisation; some organisations are more ready than others to incorporate volunteers whose level of Danish is little or even non-existent.
When talking to organisations and professionals, Voluntering.dk hear that some are hesitant about welcoming non-Danish speaking volunteers because they fear it will be too time consuming to integrate these volunteer; maybe they reject these volunteers with their users’ needs in mind if the users do not speak English. But many other organisations are ready to or even able to integrate volunteers who are not proficient in Danish yet.
The best volunteer matches are when expectations have been matched beforehand and when the volunteer organisation is ready to welcome non-Danish speakers as volunteers and curious about what the volunteers can bring to the organisation.