PolishEnglish (UK)

RODA’s web portal and forum – e-support for parents

The forum is a place where our volunteers provide information, help and support to users (parents or members of families in need). Along with usual discussions among parents about their own experiences in parenting, our volunteers give legal advice, information and support about pregnancy and childbirth, breastfeeding problems, and child passenger safety.

Through our web portal we are able to quickly reach a large number of people interested in issues we work on. We see it as a medium that helps us promote our actions and goals, and raise awareness among the general public about numerous issues we deal with in trying to create society more similar to the society we envision. Through our web articles we try to inform, educate and provoke critical thinking and change in the way society and its members deal with parents, families and children. We have influenced and continue to influence the change of attitudes towards many issues.

Through continual conversations and web articles, we encourage our users to re-think their established patterns of how they act and think (particularly with regards to approaches proven as dangerous or harmful to children), and we empower women and parents to take more active role in their lives as well as their families’ lives.

The forum has 3.200 active users, our portal and forum combined have, on average, more than 300.000 unique visits per month.

Who are the e-volunteers?

Our volunteers are mostly women, mothers with their own personal positive experience in pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and numerous parenting issues. Their values are similar to those of our organisation and through their actions they help promote RODA’s goals, values and principles.  We also have a few volunteering fathers.

Our volunteers are also members of our organisation.

The recruitment of a volunteer is usually preceded by her or his intensive activity as general forum user or if they exhibit interest in education in one (or more) of the fields our organisation is actively engaged in. Once they exhibit their communication skills, experience and expertise, we recruit them as forum or portal staff.

How many e-volunteers are involved?

Since the beginning of our e-volunteering project in 2004, there have been about 10 volunteers who have continuously stayed involved with the project. At any time we have at least 30 more volunteers who are involved in all the different aspects of our project. They put in at least an hour a day, every day.

Whom do they address the project to? Who is the recipient?

Our direct recipients are parents, couples that deal with infertility, pregnant and breastfeeding women. Indirectly, our project addresses the whole (and extended) family, medical staff, experts working with children and families, experts dealing with similar issues (for example, police departments that deal with child passenger safety), etc.

How do they verify the e-volunteers’ competences before they start the co-operation with them?

A minority of our volunteers give advice in areas of professional expertise they bring from outside. The majority of our volunteers are educated and trained through one or more of our organization’s training projects – breastfeeding advisors, pregnancy and childbirth educators, child passenger safety advisors.

Volunteer education is very extensive and detailed in some specific areas while there are some areas where a personal positive experience and a good will for sharing personal experience and knowledge are enough (for example, cloth diapering or baby wearing).

In some areas, our volunteers are tested before permitted to advise others. In other areas, they are required to actively participate in practical work (for example, child passenger seat checks and installations) and to participate in discussions about new insights in their areas of interests and volunteering.

How do they ensure the safety and the quality of the e-volunteers’ work?

We ensure safety and quality of e-volunteering by periodical monitoring and evaluation of volunteer work. Our education and training processes in areas where there are possible health and safety risks are very rigorous. We also organise communication workshops where volunteers learn communication skills, discuss difficult situations and the ways of solving them.

Volunteers are also involved in strategy development and planning activities, ensuring their contribution is current and lines up with the direction of the organization.

Volunteers in specific areas participate in ongoing, continual education process.

Name of the organisation: Parents in Action – RODA

Project title: RODA’s web portal and forum – e-support for parents

Website: www.roda.hr (web portal)