Readers often look to do volunteering work in France and the Croix Rouge offers a great way to get involved without regular commitment and plenty of one-off opportunities this Christmas.
The charity covers a range of activities and has 1,000 branches across the country.
It already has 58,000 volunteers but deputy director for volunteers Simon Cahen, says they can never have too many and always welcome new members.
“Our strength is that we have a strong presence in every department and several communes, so you are likely to be able to find a Croix Rouge near you.
“Each branch is organised to meet local needs so the type of work volunteers do depends on where they live. Our volunteers come from all walks of life and from every age group.”
The Croix Rouge covers both social and first aid, with the former including food aid, clothing, helping in the fight against illiteracy, homework help, aid for refugees or taking a blanket or a cup of coffee to the homeless.
Mr Cahen said: “The work we do is varied and so we hope everyone can find something.”
First aid courses are also offered but may need to be paid for. Once passed, other possibilities open up. “You can be a trainer or help out at public events where, by law, the organisers have to lay on first aid.
“For example, in the Dordogne there may be a food festival and you could find yourself at the first aid tent. People are needed throughout the year at different types of event and there are training courses all year round.
“You could also elect to be on the list of trained volunteers in case of local disaster.”
There are also individual local projects: “About five years ago we created an online platform, redtouch.croix-rouge.fr, where groups or communes can suggest a project to meet a local need that the Croix Rouge helps fund and organise. You can see if there is one near you that you would like to get involved in.”
In December, there may be something to do for just a day or evening, with special events for Christmas such as a meal for disadvantaged children. These are also listed on the redtouch site, or you can ask at a local branch.
You can find and research voluntary work on offer via the Croix Rouge website but Mr Cahen advised people to go to their nearest branch where they could explain what was on offer.
The website www.croix-rouge.fr may seem difficult to navigate but you can find out what is happening near you, by going to one of the five headings at the top of the home page – Nos actions (Our aid efforts), La Croix-Rouge (The Croix Rouge), Je m’engage (Taking part), Je me forme (Training), or Je donne (Giving) or by going to the sub-headings on the left in red and clicking on Près de Chez Vous.
This takes you to a page where you can enter your address to find local branches, contact details and opening hours.
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