Frequently Asked Questions
How can I volunteer?
Most of our short-term volunteers work from our warehouse site in western Thessaloniki, where we always need hands to get stuck in the sorting and distribution of donations. Soul Food Kitchen, the Food Project, and the Get Sh*t Done Team are all grassroots projects that also operate from our warehouse site, and are another great way to get involved if you are only here for a short time.
If you can commit to more than 3 weeks and have the relevant skills, we will try to find you a suitable placement with one of our projects. See our list of urgent volunteer needs for grassroots groups in the region, and be sure to highlight this in your application to us.
If you are flexible with where you volunteer, please specify this in your application.
Can I only volunteer in Northern Greece?
Definitely not! We are predominantly based in Northern Greece, but our friends / partnering projects in Serbia, the Greek islands, and other locations are in urgent need of support! If you are flexible with where you volunteer, please specify this in your application.
Are you looking for any special skills?
We currently need volunteers with the following skills / experience:
- Health workers i.e. qualified doctors, paramedics, nurses, midwives, etc.
- English and German teachers (including TEFL)
- Arabic, Farsi, Greek or Kurdish translators,
- HGV license holders
- Chefs (or experience managing a kitchen)
- Skilled labourers (i.e. construction, carpentry, plumbing, engineering, electrics)
- Lawyers or experience in advocacy
If you have any of the following skills, please get in touch and send us an application, and we will try to put you in touch with the relevant groups. Although translators and skilled labourers can often get short-term placements, please be aware that positions such as teachers, health workers and lawyers often require a minimum commitment of two weeks.
What is the minimum/maximum amount of time I can volunteer for?
We welcome volunteers for both short- and long- term commitments, from a few days to 6 months and more, including part-time work for our volunteers for live, work or study locally. We appreciate all offers of help and support, so please get in touch!
Is official registration required?
In order to work with a volunteer organization, you will need to register, sign and adhere to the code of conduct, and participate in an induction training, which will prepare you for your volunteering experience.
Can I volunteer in a camp?
Access to refugee camps and other official housing sites is not authorised for volunteers, unless they are registered with an organization that has permission to work onsite. In order to gain access, you will have to commit to work with a particular organization. You will need your valid passport or EU ID card. Authorisation can take up to two weeks therefore please do plan ahead, and be aware of these restriction if you are volunteering short-term.
Is there a minimum age requirement for volunteering?
The minimum age requirement to volunteer with Help Refugees is 18 years of age. Please note that some of our partner organizations have a higher age limit. If you are considering bringing your child to Greece, please be aware that due to security protocols you will not be able to bring them to the warehouse, camps or other volunteer organization sites.
Should I bring donations, or cash to buy items?
CASH PLEASE. In general, it’s best to help by donating money to existing trusted warehouses and organizations, which can buy goods locally. The advantage is this allow us to source items from local producers, which is often cheaper, benefits the Greek economy and works within a system that provides immediate help. Contact us for more information.
If you do bring goods to donate, help the warehouse workers as much as possible following some basic labelling and techniques used locally.
If you wish to make a cash donation for a specific project or independent group, but are unsure exactly where the funding is most needed, please contact us so that we can help you identify the current areas in greatest need of support.
Is it safe?
In the past, there have been some riots and unorganized distributions which have put the safety of volunteers and residents at risk. Therefore we ask you to closely collaborate with our network of experienced volunteers and NGOs. Working as part of established teams within the military camps means that you will be familiar with the best practices in the camp when it comes to distribution and some other activities. Following the code of conduct, guidance and advice of your organisation will help to ensure that you don’t put yourself, other team members, and the camp residents at risk.
Do I need to have my own car / transport?
Having your own transport will definitely help you get around more easily, but it is not a requirement. Many volunteers use public buses to get to the warehouse, however, if you are hoping to get a long-term placement, please be aware that of our partner organisation do require to have own transport.
See the transport section in Planning Your Trip for more information.
Do I need an international driver’s license?
In Greece, if you have an EU passport, you do not need one.
If you have a non-EU passports technically you must have an international driver’s licence to rent or drive a car in Greece. This is not always enforced, but when it is, it comes with a big fine!
Where can I stay?
Please see the accommodation section in Planning Your Trip for more information.
Will my phone work in Greece?
Check with your network before coming out. Most volunteers communicate via Whatsapp, so if you can access data then you should be fine. But, if you in Greece for more than two weeks, or you don’t have a smartphone, it’s a good idea to get a Greek SIM card so that you can communicate with coordinators and other volunteers without racking up huge international calling charges! You can buy a SIM card easily in Thessaloniki or smaller towns, with calls and data for as little as 10 euros. Most volunteer buy their sim cards from COSMOTE, a shop found in various locations throughout the city. PLEASE REMEMBER TO HAVE YOUR PHONE UNLOCKED (for a foreign sim card) by your network before coming out.
Are debit/credit cards accepted?
Usually debit/credit cards are accepted at hotels and for car rentals, as well as most of restaurants and shops in Thessaloniki. Smaller shops might not be equipped to take credit cards, therefore it’s preferable to have a stash of cash (Euros), just in case.
Do I need any shots (vaccinations) before I come?
It is a good idea to make sure you are up to date with your basic vaccinations, including tetanus and hepatitis. Use common sense, and carry hand sanitizer
Can I drink the water?
Yes! Tap water is fine to drink here. Try to minimize your use of plastic bottles – this crisis is causing a lot of garbage already!
Do people speak English?
Yes and no. Most Greeks you meet will have some basic English, and many are fluent. Likewise for many refugees. However, if you can learn even a little bit of Greek, Arabic or Farsi, it does go a long way and is very much appreciated by Greeks and refugees alike.
You can find useful phrases in these documents:
- Volunteers: Greek/Arabic/English/Farsi phrase list (printable) (German version)
- Refugee Phrasebook database (sort by language and select which ones to print)
What are the emergency numbers / services?
FIre Department: 199
Human Trafficking Resource Line:
A21: 1109 or +30-2310-525149