PROTECT – Volunteering and Learning

Increased participation and improved alternative learning opportunities in volunteer structures to strengthen social and professional integration of immigrants

Although immigrants represent a large part of the population in Berlin, they are underrepresented in relief organisations. They are often not familiar with the specific opportunities to participate in voluntary work, and do not know about the educational opportunities. Immigrants have a range of skills outside of formally recognized qualifications which could be an enrichment for the society and generate social recognition. This was the starting point of PROTECT.

With the BGZ, which coordinated the national and transnational cooperation, nine organisations from four countries worked together. All partners have a special approach to immigrants and their interest organisations and extensive expertise in the field of volunteering.

Patron Mr. Frank Henkel, Senator of the Interior and Sport and personalities from politics, culture and sports as sponsors were ambassadors for the idea of the project and even an example for social commitment in volunteering.

 As the Senator responsible for disaster control in the federal state of Berlin, it was only natural that I would serve as the official patron of the EU project “PROTECT – Learning and helping as volunteers” initiated by my Department. I’m delighted that BGZ is also coordinating this project. My Senate Department has worked with BGZ on the “Operation Berlin” project for many years now and appreciates this agency as a reliable partner. BGZ contributes not only its skills in integration policy, but also its well-functioning network, which is a prerequisite for success.

Frank Henkel, former Senator for the Interior and Sport

PROTECT used volunteering in civil protection as a bridge to achieve better access to lifelong learning. The educational programmes of the relief organisations transfer practical key skills, which can be used for work and employment and enable a participation in society. The participating organisations from Berlin benefited from a closer integration of immigrants and a possible membership. They expanded their intercultural skills and opened up.

The Federal Minister of the Interior of the Federal Republic of Germany Dr. Thomas de Maizière awards the BGZ-project PROTECT with the sponsoring prize Helfende Hand.

The following activities were implemented:

  • Qualification of ambassadors, who then advertise in their communities for participation and learning opportunities in volunteer organisations
  • Support of relief organisations, to strengthen the attractiveness of learning opportunities and to make them demand-orientated and culturally sensitive
  • Provision of attractive learning opportunities
  • Public relations in association with the project to strengthen the acceptance of volunteering
  • Development of guidelines and recommendations, to document Good Practice in the partner countries for a sustainable utilisation

At the end of the project, results are available for other civil society organisations. The materials are available in German, Dutch and Spanish as well as an abridgement in English.

The project was transferred into a regular offer and continues under the name
„PROTECT – Im Notfall für Berlin“ .

Sustainable results on the project website


Hürriyet, November 2012
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Implemented in:

Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Spain



Berlin partners:

German Red Cross, Maltese Cross medical aid agency, Berlin School of Economics and Law, Senate Department for the Interior and Sport

Transnational partners:

Austrian Red Cross (AT), Spanish Red Cross and Municipal Government of Mataró (ES), Volunteers’ Academy Amsterdam (NL)


Grazyna Wittgen
Tel: +49 (030) 809941-14


European Commission – LLP – Grundtvig


This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.