The diplomatic relations between Romania and Norway go back for almost 100 years, being interrupted only by the political context of the World War II. Since the accession of Romania to the European Union, relations between the two countries have strengthened, in a great measure thanks to the EEA and Norway Grants.

Romania is one of the 15 EU member states benefiting from the funds granted by the Kingdom of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Between 2009 and 2014, 36 million Euros were allocated to social projects through the NGO Fund in Romania, administered by the Civil Society Development Foundation. The absorption rate of the program was over 95%, 390 projects benefiting from this funding.

Two of these projePoza Norvegiacts, which aimed at contributing to sustain the active participation of seniors in the community, through volunteering, and to defend their rights, were“Seniors – Resources for community: Volunteering at third age” and “Senior Volunteers Network in action: Romania – Norway experience exchange”, implemented by Habilitas Association – Center of Ressources and Professional Training, together with its partner CBNRM Networking – Norway.

Through the first project, 75 seniors from Bucharest participated, from June 2015 to January 2016, in a program of training and practice in volunteering. The training included notions of communication with people from different disadvantaged categories, identifying and stimulating the factors that motivate them to volunteer or identifying methods of valuing personal skills. Senior volunteers also learned first aid notions, which are very important when working with people with various health problems, and they attended training covering basic computer skills. After the training program, seniors volunteers have conducted activities in 15 social institutions.

In order to support the long term seniors volunteering, Habilitas Association, with support from the Norwegian partner who has a large experience in creating networks, founded the first Senior Volunteers Network in Bucharest. The network is supported by platform, through which any older person eager to offer their services voluntarily can find the right institution.

Through “Senior Volunteers Network in action: Romania – Norway experience exchange”, the Romanian partner wanted to learn more about the Norwegian good practices in volunteering and the ways in which NGOs and public authorities are working with volunteers. Also, they analyzed the social services offered to thy elderly in Norway, how the seniors community is organized and the Norwegians seniors motivation for volunteering, in order to ensure the sustainability of the newly created Senior Volunteers Network.

The whole experience gained by collaborating with CBNRM Networking and by visiting Norwegian institutions that are working with volunteers of all ages, for the benefit of seniors and disadvantaged people, will be invested in the development of Senior Volunteers Network in Bucharest.