Spotlight on Solidarity and Volunteering Projects 2019–2021

5 December 2021

From Lithuania to Italy, from supporting older generations to caring for animals, the projects shortlisted for this year’s SALTO Awards in the Solidarity & Volunteering category, showcase a remarkable range of activities across Europe. In this article we will take a look at the winner of the category and, as part of a three-part focus, we’ll explore the highlights of the shortlisted nominees.

The awards ceremony took place on 11th November and was also live streamed on both Facebook and YouTube. There were 5 categories:

  1. Environment & Climate Action
  2. Digital Transformation
  3. Media & Information Literacy
  4. Solidarity & Volunteering
  5. Youth Participation.

The Winner: “Per una vita attiva dei Sordi Senior”

Per una vita attiva dei Sordi Senior”, “For an active life of deaf older people”, a project from Italy, was the overall winner in this category. Whereas most youth projects also focus on young people as their core target group, this project stands out because, although still organised and implemented by young people, the target group for this project were deaf elderly people. It was funded by the European Solidarity Corps as a solidarity project.

“Per una vita attiva dei Sordi Senior” was designed to meet the growing demand for support for older people with hearing impairments, particularly when it comes to accessing information and services online, like financial and social security transactions. Today, performing everyday tasks like these requires digital skills; however, deaf people, especially the elderly, are often forgotten by public services. They cannot access the same kind of support that other older people might because of the communication difficulties they may face, and an absence of interpreting services to help them. The same problem occurs in other everyday settings, like accessing cultural institutions. And so “Per una vita attiva dei Sordi Senior” aimed to combat many of these issues and to improve the social inclusion of older generations of hearing-impaired people through learning, volunteering, and contributing to the well-being of society in general.

A core part of the project was to implement a training course – aimed at deaf elderly people – on digital technology, for example learning how to use online banking, insurance, and social security portals services. The training included creating digital profiles and passwords, etc. Afterwards, six young deaf people (who had already themselves been trained) taught the course to older deaf people.

After the course, those taking part were able to:

  • navigate, search information and digital content;
  • share information using digital technologies;

And they had an adequate degree of awareness of the potential of financial instruments.

The benefits went well beyond digital skills, however. Through spending more time with others those taking part developed relational skills and competencies such as empathy and listening skills. The young people managing the project also developed their aptitude for teamwork, empathy and listening skills, flexibility, and competence in running training. Bringing together young and older people, the project relaunched intergenerational dialogue so that deaf people of all ages, who share the use of sign language as a means of accessing and interpreting the world, could be together and exchange information, learning from each other.

The judges’ view

The SALTO Awards jury saw “Per una vita attiva dei Sordi Senior” as the strongest project for a number of reasons. Georg Feiner, the Coordinator at European Solidarity Corps Resource Centre, sums it up: “They impressed the jury with how simple in essence, yet valuable in results the project unmistakably was. It fostered intergenerational communication and knowledge exchange and produced a solution that’s not only helpful but can also be easily replicated and transferred to other countries. “Per una vita attiva dei Sordi Senior” had a strong solidarity dimension and the societal need for this type of work was clearly visible. We believe it will inspire many others and find implementation in more communities, and most overall it was clearly run by young people themselves.”


Participation Pool | Resources on Youth Participation & Media Literacy
SALTO Participation & Information

SALTO Participation and Information Resource Centre (SALTO PI) develops strategic and innovative action to encourage participation in democratic life.

Participation Pool | Resources on Youth Participation & Media Literacy

SALTO is a network of 11 Resource Centres working on European priority areas within the fields of Youth, Education and Training: SALTO Digital (Finland), SALTO Education & Training TCA (Hungary), SALTO European Solidarity Corps (Austria), SALTO Green Transition (France), SALTO Inclusion & Diversity in Education & Training (Croatia), SALTO Inclusion & Diversity in Youth (Belgium-Flanders), SALTO Participation & Information (Estonia), SALTO Training & Cooperation (Germany), SALTO Eastern Europe & Caucasus (Poland), SALTO EuroMed (France), SALTO South-East Europe (Slovenia).SALTO stands for Support, Advanced Learning and Training Opportunities. It works within the Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps programmes.