Volunteerism sees significant rise during crisis in Greece

The economic crisis appears to have generated a new spirit of volunteerism in Greece, a country where this social activity has not been particularly widespread in the past.

A survey made public on Tuesday suggested that there has been a 44 percent increase in the number of Greeks taking part in volunteer projects since 2010, when Greece signed up to the EU-IMF bailout.

The opinion poll, carried out by QED for the Human Grid, a scheme set up by the TEDx Athens discussion forum, found that the most noticeable rises in volunteerism were in providing goods and looking after the health of those worst affected by the crisis. However, taking part in environmental and cultural projects were also popular.

“Citizens are desperately looking for a way to make themselves useful and to get a sense of achievement,” said Christina Karabela, a managing partner at QED. “We are witnessing a society that is in transition.”

Despite the apparent rise in the number of Greeks volunteering to help fellow citizens and good causes, 85 percent of the population still has no participation at all in any volunteer group. Nevertheless, the signs for the future appear encouraging as 34 percent of 1,001 respondents said they are very likely to give up their time to help others in the near future.

It is also a sign of the testing social situation that Greece is in that 38 percent of those questioned said they expect that they or their family members will soon be in need of volunteer assistance.