China / Society

Red Cross Society plans recruitment program

By Shan Juan ( Updated: 2012-12-04 22:39

The Red Cross Society of China, the country's biggest humanitarian organization, will establish a nationwide system to encourage the volunteer spirit.

China has about 2 million registered Red Cross volunteers and 190,000 are highly active, according to estimates by Zhao Baige, the society's executive vice-president.

"Volunteers are an indispensable part of the Red Cross movement, but China lacks a well-working system for volunteer recruitment, maintenance and coordination," she said at an award ceremony on Tuesday.

More than 100 China Red Cross volunteers at home and abroad were awarded for their service at the event to celebrate International Volunteer Day, which falls on Dec 5 every year.

She conceded that government funding for volunteer efforts remains insufficient.

She said the society will allocate special funds for such efforts in the coming years, and future goals regarding volunteer service and maintenance have been set.

"We'll largely mobilize social resources as well to support volunteers and their efforts," she said.

By 2015, provincial, city and county China Red Cross branches will set up volunteer groups in major areas like disaster relief, emergency response, community health service, and blood and human organ donations.

Matching that, a nationwide volunteer maintenance and service system will be created to support their services, she said.

Zhao urged China Red Cross branches across the mainland to develop more brand-name volunteer projects, which primarily cater to demands of vulnerable groups, including childless elderly residents, migrant workers, and their families left behind at home villages.

"Through such projects, we hope to influence government policies," Zhao said.

Society Vice-President Guo Changjiang said volunteers will be categorized according to major humanitarian tasks of the China Red Cross, including emergency responses and blood donation advocacy.

He urged branches to enlarge their volunteer bases, which can cover different professions and fields that are most in need.

Guo said volunteers can help mainly during major events such as the Beijing Olympics.

Zhao said: "Specialty volunteers with needed skills will dominate future volunteer tasks." She added that the society will also give volunteers more training.

Jagan Chapagain, Asia-Pacific director for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said: "Now we are looking for both time and skills of the volunteer, and volunteer efforts might vary in different settings."

He also urged more volunteer security.

"When volunteers gave their time and effort, a minimum degree of legal protection is required," he said, adding that when a good deed is done, it needs to be protected by law. He referred to "good Samaritan" laws, "which are available in many other countries, such as Singapore".

Such laws free nonprofessionals from potential liability if they offer reasonable assistance to others in need, such as injured people, legal experts said.

Such laws can help reduce people's hesitation to help, by removing the fear of being sued for unintentional injury or even wrongful death.

Fu Qiang, a Red Cross volunteer in Anhui province, agreed, and asked for more training to enhance volunteers' skills.

He also urged for more communication between the Red Cross and the volunteers because such communication helps with quality volunteer services.

"We are assisting the Red Cross in humanitarian tasks and hope that it understands our needs and facilitates our work," he said.

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