Unsung Heroes Dialogues

Start & End Date: 01.08.2018 – 31.01.2020
Place: (Germany) 
Participating Countries: Estonia, Germany, Greece, Croatia, Portugal
Project Partners: CULTURE GOES EUROPE (CGE) – Soziokulturelle Initiative Erfurt e.V. (coordinator), Documenta Center for Dealing with the Past, Eesti Mälu Instituut / Estonian Institute for Historical Memory, UMAR – Uniao de Mulheres Alarnativae Resposta Assiociacao, United Societies of Balkans Astiki Etaireia
Number of Participants: 414

Grant Amount: 98.530 € Europe for Citizens

The project was implemented with the support of the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union 


Project Results

We are very happy to share here the two of the outcomes of our Unsung Hero Dialogues project that we could not be prouder of.

First is the project’s booklet that gives a great overview of the UHD, its local and international events as well as an overview of the policy recommendations that were developed during the local events in Estonia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Romania. The project booklet was written by the project partners with a design by Sofia Mondini and coordinated by Aleksandra Polivana.

Secondly, we are very happy to present the Data Analysis – and report – of the European Survey about Work in Civil Society Organizations that was conducted from June 2020 – June 2021. This publication analyses the data gathered from more than 500 participants of the survey and combines it with the findings of eight interviews with experts in the field of civil society work. The Data Analysis was co-written by Elisa Rapetti and Katja Greeson for the project consortium.

We hope you find these publications interesting, informative – and hopefully useful beyond the scope of the UHD project itself.t


Unsung Heroes Dialogues: Petition Launch


Click here to sign the petition!

In November last year, CGE-Erfurt hosted the Autumn School of the Unsung Heroes Dialogue (UHD),  a project run by CGE-Erfurt and a consortium of NGO partners to promote solidarity towards activists working within civil society, in conditions often undermining their labour rights.

Autumn School

During the Autumn School, a campaign working group undertook research on the makeup of the civil society sector: exploring principles for hiring Civil Society Workers, the role of volunteers and employees, and the power dynamics and barriers of access to the sector. The outcome of this research was a petition, aimed broadly at NGOs, calling upon the sector to address inequalities within it.

Why does this matter?

Civil society workers roughly account for 13% percent of the whole EU workforce and play a vital role in democracy and communities at all levels. The majority of the workforce (55%) is unpaid thus not registered and the remaining 45% compete against one another in complex competitive hiring processes. Thus, there is the need to safeguard applicants within recruitment processes through more ethical and rights-respecting processes. There is no excuse for unethical practices in recruitment by filling publicly advertised positions with internal candidates, recruiting unpaid or underpaid staff, or allowing prejudice to enter decision-making. We would like to establish new norms for recruitment, with new principles, such as transparency, clear expectations, accountability, fairness.

What does the petition call for?

In response to the poor conditions they identified, the group formed a set of principles for equitable hiring processes. These were formulated into a pledge which NGOs can sign to signal their support for transparent and fair hiring processes in NGOs:

“By signing this petition, one shall commit to running transparent and fair hiring processes for civil society roles, which includes:

  • Informing candidates of the stages and timeline of the recruitment process. 
  • Not discriminating against anyone based on race, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, disability, age, or genetic information.
  • Giving feedback to all participants to improve their chances in their future applications.
  • Providing structured job descriptions, compensation information, and expectations of tasks.”

Click here to sign the petition!


The events

An Overview

The Unsung Hero Dialogues – Overview of Events and Activities 2020-2021

  1. Kickoff Meeting
    The Kickoff Meeting of the Unsung Hero Dialogues served to set up and establish the project consortium and build the foundation from which the following 18 months of activities would be coordinated. During the meeting, the cornerstones and timeline of the project were discussed and agreed upon.
    02.04. Online/Erfurt, Germany, 11 participants
  2. Survey
    The European Survey On The Economic Situation Of Civil Society Workers served and serves as an exploratory survey that analyses the relationship between meaningfulness of work & work satisfaction with the economic realities among civil society organisations, employees, free lancers and volunteers. It highlights the interplay of the professionalisation and recognition of civil society work as economically valued work – and the lack thereof. The full findings of the survey can be found here: [link]
    23.06.2020-30.06.2021, 533 participants
  3. Autumn School
    The Unsung Heroes Autumn School brought together civil society professionals from across Europe to learn and work together towards a stronger recognition and professionalisation of civil society work. The curriculum of the Autumn School was developed on the basis of the preliminary results of the European Survey On The Economic Situation Of Civil Society Workers. The results of the work during the Autumn School can be found in the online – and dissemination campaign of the project, in the UHD policy recommendations published in the project booklet and in the campaign for fair and transparent recruitment processes in NGOs.

26.10.-02.11.2020, Mühlhausen, Germany, 40 participants

  1. Local Outreach Events
    The six local partner organisations implemented a total of 18 Awareness Raising Events in and with their local and regional communities. These activities across Europe served to highlight the work of civil society in the local contexts of the different partner organisations and connect them with locally eminent issues. Doing so, they created dialogues between civil society workers and the broader public to raise awareness for the value of the work done by civil society actors.

Outreach events by Country:
Estonia:

  • 1st Outreach/Awareness Raising Event: 15.04.2021, Tallinn/Online, 30 participants
  • 2nd Outreach/Awareness Raising Event: 21.04.2021, Tallinn/Online, 14 participants
  • 3rd Outreach/Awareness Raising Event: 08.08.2021, Tallinn, 50 participants

Germany:

  • 1st Outreach/Awareness Raising Event: 18.03.2021, Erfurt/online, 27 participants
  • 2nd Outreach/Awareness Raising Event: 16.07.2021, Erfurt, 67 participants
  • 3rd Outreach/Awareness Raising Event: 18.09.2021, Erfurt, 31 participants
    Greece:
  • 1st Outreach/Awareness Raising Event: 29.03.2021, Thessaloniki/online, 42 participants
  • 2nd Outreach/Awareness Raising Event:29.05.2021, Thessaloniki, 25 participants
  • 3rd Outreach/Awareness Raising Event: 13.06.2021, Thessaloniki, 34 participants
    Italy:
  • 1st Outreach/Awareness Raising Event: 23.06.2021, Castelnuovo Bermida, 36 participants
  • 2nd Outreach/Awareness Raising Event: 24.07.2021, Tortona, 35 participants
  • 3rd Outreach/Awareness Raising Event: 29.07.2021, Tortona, 41 participants
    Portugal:
  • 1st Outreach/Awareness Raising Event: 24.05.2021, online/Lisbon, 16 participants
  • 2nd Outreach/Awareness Raising Event: 24.06.2021, online/Lisbon, 6 participants
  • 3rd Outreach/Awareness Raising Event: 29.06.2021, online/Lisbon, 13 participants
    Romania:
  • 1st Outreach/Awareness Raising Event: 24.04.2021, online/Timisoara, 33 participants
  • 2nd Outreach/Awareness Raising Event: 10.05.2021, online/Timisoara, 45 participants
  • 3rd Outreach/Awareness Raising Event: 29.05.2021, online/Timisoara, 65 participants
  1. Local Networking Events
    The six local partner organisations implemented a total of 29 Networking- and Policy events, over the course of which they developed and expanded their local network among civil society organisations and -workers, they conducted needs analyses among those networks and developed policy recommendations for their local realities. These networks and discussions included a wide variety of local actors and experts that helped shape the work of the Unsung Hero Dialogues on a local level. The results of the local activities in UHD can be found in the project booklet. [link]
    Networking and Policy events by Country:
    Estonia:
  • 1st Networking and Policy Event: 07.04.2021, Tallinn/online, 6 participants
  • 2nd Networking and Policy Event: 13.04.2021, Tallinn/online, 3 participants
  • 3rd Networking and Policy Event: 16.04.2021, Tallinn/online, 13 participants
  • 4th Networking and Policy Event: 05.05.2021, Tallinn/online, 3 participants

Germany:

  • 1st Networking and Policy Event: 03.06.2021, Erfurt/online, 20 participants
  • 2nd Networking and Policy Event: 17.06.2021, Erfurt/online, 14 participants
  • 3rd Networking and Policy Event: 01.07.2021, Erfurt/online, 9 participants
  • 4th Networking and Policy Event: 15.07.2021, Erfurt/online, 5 participants
    Greece:
  • 1st Networking and Policy Event: 23.11.2020, Thessaloniki/online, 25 participants
  • 2nd Networking and Policy Event: 15.12.2020, Thessaloniki/online, 11 participants
  • 3rd Networking and Policy Event: 21.02.2021: Thessaloniki/online, 13 participants
  • 4th Networking and Policy Event: 12.04.2021, Thessaloniki/online, 32 participants
    Italy:
  • 1st Networking and Policy Event: 09.03.2021, Tortona/online, 2 participants
  • 2nd Networking and Policy Event: 09.03.2021, Tortona/online, 1 participant
  • 3rd Networking and Policy Event: 15.03.2021, Tortona/online, 1 participant
  • 4th Networking and Policy Event: 12.06.2021, Tortona/online, 8 participants
  • 5th Networking and Policy Event: 21.06.2021, Tortona/online, 12 participants
  • 6th Networking and Policy Event: 21.06.2021, Tortona/online, 9 participants
  • 7th Networking and Policy Event: 07.08.2021, Tortona/online, 8 participants
    Portugal:
  • 1st Networking and Policy Event: 21.05.2021, Lisbon, 8 participants
  • 2nd Networking and Policy Event: 07.07.2021, Lisbon/online, 7 participants
  • 3rd Networking and Policy Event: 08.07.2021, Lisbon/online, 8 participants
  • 4th Networking and Policy Event: 08.07.2021, Lisbon/online, 5 participants
  • 5th Networking and Policy Event: 14.07.2021, Lisbon/online, 10 participants
    Romania:
  • 1st Networking and Policy Event: 27.01.2021, Timisoara/online, 14 participants
  • 2nd Networking and Policy Event: 24.02.2021, Timisoara/online, 9 participants
  • 3rd Networking and Policy Event: 08.04.2021, Timisoara/online, 9 participants
  • 4th Networking and Policy Event: 26.07.2021, Timisoara/online, 10 participants
  • 5th Networking and Policy Event, July 2021, Vulcan, 9 participants
  1. Final Conference
    The project’s Final Conference was the concluding and culminating point of the work of the UHD network. Here, the consortium presented its work of the previous 18 months to a local and international audience, discussed and highlighted the findings of the European Survey on The Economic Situation of Civil Society Workers and presented the project booklet.
    The Final Conference, including final partners meeting, took place on the 16.-20.09.2021 with 31 participants in Erfurt, Germany.
  2. Outreach and Awareness Raising Campaign
    The Outreach and Awareness Raising Campaign of the Unsung Hero Dialogues served – and serves – to share and discuss information about the issues connected to the core themes of the project, to promote the work done over the course of the project by participants, i.e. in their work during the Autumn School, and consortium members – and to highlight the relevance of the project’s findings in a variety of contexts. This outreach campaign is being continued on a voluntary basis by members of the project consortium and has reached more than 100.000 views online to date.

The Unsung Hero Dialogues 2020-2021 are co-financed by funding from the Europe for Citizens program of the European Commission, with additional funding provided by the Kinder- und Jugendplan des Bundes Germany.