How to approach Solidarity as a Mentor | Mentoring under Construction

MeetUP 2023-09-27 MeetUP FB Cover [Wylly Suhendra via unsplash]
Mentoring under Construction MeetUP FB Cover | Image by Wylly Suhendra via

The content of this blog post has been created in the context of Mentoring under Construction. Mentoring under Construction is a community for mentoring practitioners within the European Solidarity Corps programme.

The European Solidarity Corps brings together young people in order to build a more inclusive society, and responding to societal challenges. Solidarity is an important element of every volunteering activity. Mentors also play a part in this.

How can we approach Solidarity as a mentor” – In one of our monthly MeetUPs of Mentoring under Construction we explored this question and we were looking for ways on how to raise the awareness of ESC volunteers about solidarity:

  • How do we as mentors understand solidarity? (And how is Solidarity understood in the EU Solidarity Corps programme?)
  • Where does solidarity show in everyday activities of the volunteer?
  • And how can mentors support volunteers awareness on solidarity?

How do we understand solidarity

We can only overcome the challenges if we stand together.

Marty Walsh

Let’s start with you: Take a moment and think about two questions:

  1. What does solidarity mean to me (personally)?
  2. Where do I see solidarity in my mentoring practise?

Leave some notes on this menti and have a look at the results below.

Solidarity [menti]
Solidarity | Screenshot mentimeter

Solidarity has in it’s center the help and support for another person or a cause. Solidarity is about shared values and common aims, and it is about unity with the other person. Solidarity is “a support by one person or group of people for another because they share feelings, opinions, aims, etc.”, according to the Oxfords Learner’s Dictionary.

Solidarity in everyday activities of the volunteer

At first glance, Solidarity seems to be a very abstract term. The challenge lies probably in linking solidarity to everyday activities of volunteers in their project and organisation. Or, in other words, it’s a question to make solidarity visible and raise awareness about it:

  • Where does solidarity show in everyday activities of the volunteer?
  • And how can support volunteers awareness on solidarity?

Here are some thoughts from our discussion: Solidarity in everyday activities of the volunteer (padlet)

Solidarity [MuC MeetUP]
Solidarity | Padlet Screenshot

Cornerstones of Solidarity

Solidarity within the European Solidarity Corps is about bringing together young people in order to respond to challenges in local communities and society. Following the European priorities, the European Solidarity Corps supports inclusion and diversity, the digital transition and green practices. It also promotes participation of young people in democratic processes and civic engagement (see also SALTO European Solidarity Corps Resource Centre).

Based on their research 4Thought for Solidarity, Snezana Baclija Knoch and Susie Nicodemi created a model known as the 4 Cornerstones of Solidarity. Those four concepts were identified as closest to solidarity both in theory and in practice: Empathy, Active Citizenship, Human Rights and Inclusion.

4 Cornerstones of Solidarity
4 Cornerstones of Solidarity

Those four cornerstones are complemented by seven supporting concepts: social justice, equality of opportunity, support, strengthen communities, active participation, volunteering and responsibility.

Reflexion: Where do you position yourself?

Take the 4 cornerstones and the 7 supporting concepts and ask your volunteer:

  • Which concept do you relate to the most? And which concept can you not relate to at all?
  • Which concept is the most present in your volunteering activities?
  • Which concept would you like to make more prominent in your volunteering activities?

Linking Volunteering and Solidarity

The 4 cornerstones and the 7 supporting concepts might go way beyond the local volunteering project, however that’s the point to extend our perspective and connect volunteering to something bigger.

In another breakout round we discussed, how mentors can link volunteering to the four cornerstones. You find some results here: Cornerstones of Solidarity: Linking Volunteering to Solidarity (padlet).

Solidarity: Questions to ponder

  1. How important to you is respect for human dignity?
  2. What do you know about and think of human rights?
  3. How much do you believe in the promotion of a fair and equal society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality prevail?
  4. How do you feel about enhancing solidarity between people, while respecting their cultures and their traditions during your project?
  5. How important is it to you to build a community of shared responsibilities and mutual support?
  6. What meaningful contributions are you willing to make to the local society in Poland?
  7. How could you show solidarity, cooperation and mutual understanding during your project?
  8. How can you prevent acting in any way that could put others or yourself at risk of being harmed?

Source: Volunteering Notes by Dagna Gmitrowicz, Foundation for the Development of the Education System / Fundacja Rozwoju Systemu Edukacji (FRSE)

Instead of some conclusion, let’s finish with a quote…

We want the world our children inherit to be defined by the values enshrined in the U.N. Charter: peace, justice, respect, human rights, tolerance, and solidarity.

Antoniu Guterres
Read more…

4 Thoughts for Solidarity by Europe talks Solidarity

Europe talks solidarity is a series of events and publications by SALTO European Solidarity Corps; Europe Talks Solidarity Podcast, Solidarity Video Channel, Solidarity Articles

The TOSCA quality compass; Quality in European Solidarity Corps Volunteering activities

Mentoring under Construction. Join our Community

The Mentoring under Construction Community is open for everyone who is interested in raising the quality in mentoring within European Solidarity Corps programme (and beyond): mentors, project managers/organisers, coordinators of volunteers, facilitators of learning, authors and trainers, and members of National Agencies and SALTO Resource Centres.

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