Within a few weeks in spring 2020, the COVID-19 crisis led to people all over Europe volunteering on a large scale to help their neighbours and those in need. Volunteering and the associated assumption of responsibility in the civil society experienced a completely new appreciation. Tools developed for this (e.g. platforms for matching volunteers) were credated, activated and used virtually “overnight” thanks to digital technologies.

People got involved in the well-being of their neighbours, provided shopping services for the elderly and disabled who could not leave their homes, or took on activities of daily living. They mainly took on tasks that had nothing to do with their actual profession or education, e.g. in care, agriculture or mobility.

As different as the professional backgrounds of the volunteers were, they had one thing in common: volunteering in times of the pandemic proved to be a way to counteract reduced employment and loss of income, to be socially active and to feel part of the civil society. They acquired new soft skills such as team spirit, critical faculties, communication skills, intercultural competence, stress management, discipline and self-confidence.

Since 2020, European societies have experienced further crises: Environmental disasters caused by heat waves, storms and floods have required further volunteer engagement. In spring 2022, the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine led to a wave of refugees involving many European states. Here, too, it was volunteers who supported aid organisations and dedicated their energy and time to those in need.

The CRISISS project is dedicated to all of them – as recognition for their commitment and as something that society gives back to them for their social engagement.