Serve The City Geneva

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How did Serve the City Geneva begin?
    • Serve the City Geneva started in 2012, modelled on STC Brussels, which had been established five years earlier. The international Serve the City movement gave us its name and logo and the rest was up to us. We started with just 12 volunteers and have been growing every year since then.
  • Who runs Serve the City Geneva?
    • Serve the City Geneva is run by a committee of 6-8 volunteers working out of their homes in their free time to provide projects dedicated to marginalised members of the local community. The team is led by Gary, the founder, and other members of the committee help with communications, the website, the coordination of individual projects and liaison with specific partners. If you’re interested in joining the committee, please do get in touch at info@servethecity.ch.
  • Do you offer internships/volunteer placements/part-time or temporary work?
    • Serve the City Geneva is run entirely by volunteers on a part-time/occasional basis in our spare time from our own homes, so we can’t offer paid work of any kind. We have no offices, but in the past we have sometimes been able to find an organisation to lend us a desk and computer for interns wishing to get some unpaid experience in the area of social responsibility. Also, our committee welcomes new members who can provide roughly two hours a week for a reasonable length of time – see “What weekly/monthly volunteering opportunities do you offer?” below.
  • Can I send you my CV?
    • You can, but there’s no need. Everyone is welcome to join us, no particular qualifications or experience required! Unfortunately, however impressive your CV, we cannot offer paid work, etc. (see above).
  • How can I keep up to date with Serve the City’s activities?
    • By registering on our website through the Login/Registration page, you will be added to our mailing list to receive newsletters, calls for volunteers and notifications that sign-ups for an activity are open. We only send emails when we have events coming up, so we won’t be clogging up your inbox with messages every week. You can also like our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ServeTheCityGeneva/ to keep up to date and see photos from our events.
  • Are your activities suitable for non-French speakers?
    • For the most-part, yes. Most of our volunteers prefer to speak English and it is the main language of our committee as a whole. Some of our activities, particularly those that involve significant contact with locals, are best-suited to French-speakers, in which case we always try to specify this when the activity is advertised, or suggest that you sign up with a French-speaking friend.
  • Do you speak French?
    • Oui! While the majority of our volunteers are English-speakers, several committee members are francophone or more than happy to communicate in French. Emails to the info address can therefore be sent in either language. Click on the flag at the top of this page to go to the French website. Please note though that, unfortunately, due to time constraints, the French website is not always kept as up-to-date as the English version, and French newsletters are sometimes sent out later. We are doing our best to address this!
  • How often do you run activities? What weekly/monthly volunteering opportunities do you offer?
    • The nature of our work is primarily on-demand, and we don’t really run any ongoing volunteering projects, although at the moment we do participate in a weekly soup kitchen that runs all year round. Other than that, our level of activity varies throughout the year: we have a few big volunteering days (e.g. International Nelson Mandela Day in July and the two Samedi du Partage days in June and November), and organise occasional volunteering activities with our partners at other times, some of which are seasonal. We also publicise calls for volunteers that we receive from other local organisations if they correspond to our values and our volunteer profile. Currently, the only more regular opportunities are:
      • Serving on the committee: this is an ongoing commitment requiring roughly two hours a week of your time, although this is variable depending on what we have going on. Primarily we are looking for people willing to be responsible for liaising with a specific partner – maintaining a good relationship, being their point of contact when they need us and proactively reaching out to them with a view to offering more activities. The committee communicates primarily by email, with occasional meetings organised according to availability, so this is not an onerous commitment. All we ask for is enthusiasm! If you’re interested in doing this, please contact us at info@servethecitygeneva.ch. We also welcome people with more specific skills (e.g. IT, translation) who may be able to support our current committee members and improve our efficiency.
      • Carrefour Rue soup kitchen: every morning, Carrefour Rue prepares lunch for those in need at Montbrillant, behind the train station (Gare Cornavin). At the moment, we provide them with volunteers to help most Wednesdays. Please contact us at the usual address if you’re interested in this so that the project leader can give you details of the upcoming dates or add you to the project’s mailing list if you wish.
      • Salvation Army lunches reserve list: The Salvation Army homeless shelter has its own team that prepares lunch every day, but we have a list of reserves who they can call, possibly at short notice, to cover if one of their team is unable to come. If you’d like to be added to this list, contact us as info@servethecitygeneva.ch.

Other organisations in the area that have more regular opportunities for English speakers are:

And for French speakers:

  • Centre genevois du volontariat
  • Croix-Rouge genevoise
  • Croix-Rouge Jeunesse (for volunteers under 30).
  • How do I sign up for an activity?
    • For almost all our activities, sign-up is via the “Current Activities” page. First you will need to log in as a returning volunteer or, if you have not yet registered with us, follow the link below the login box to the new volunteer registration page to create an account. Once logged in, click on “Sign up for events”. Select your event(s) from the list by ticking the box, and if applicable, add any comments below (e.g. if you’re bringing friends or family or if you have time restrictions or preferences for activities happening in various places at once). This is considered a firm sign-up, so once you’ve done that, please don’t make other plans!
    • Occasionally we will ask you to express your interest in an activity by email rather than through the website; this is often if we want to gauge interest rather than take firm sign-ups. We also use email for some activities for which the date is not fixed and can be suggested by the volunteers concerned.
    • When we advertise calls for volunteers from other organisations, we will usually ask you to contact them directly.
  • What should I do if I forget my password or have trouble logging in/signing up?
    • Let our webmaster know what the problem is at webmaster@servethecitygeneva.ch. The default password if you haven’t changed it is your first name in lower case letters.
  • I signed up for an activity and received an automatic response – are you expecting me to come?
    • Absolutely yes – signing up on the website is considered a firm commitment and we will expect you to be there unless you tell us otherwise.
  • I’ve signed up for an activity but not received any details, what should I do?!
    • An overview of the project can be found in the newsletter or on the STCG homepage. You should receive a project profile a few days before the event with detailed information about where to meet, what to wear or bring, contact details for the project leader, etc. Sometimes for reasons of logistics, this may be sent just a day or two before the event. If you haven’t received this information the day before the event or urgently need information sooner, email us at info@servethecitygeneva.ch and we will be happy to give you all the information we have. Rest assured, even if you have not yet received the project profile, the project is going ahead and we are expecting you to be there (see above).
  • What should I do if I can no longer make an activity I signed up for?
    • PLEASE let us know as soon as possible if you find that you are no longer able to come. We appreciate that circumstances change so we won’t hold it against you, but the sooner you tell us, the more chance there is of us finding someone to fill in. Similarly, if you’re ill on the day, please call the project leader (their number is on the project profile) so that they know you’re not coming. Bear in mind that some of our activities require a minimum number of volunteers, so it is essential that we know early enough to cancel if several people drop out. If we arrive on the day with too few volunteers to do the work required, it’s a waste of everyone’s time and can damage our relationship with our partner organisations, whose staff may have given up their weekend to lead the project. With that in mind, we would ask that you do your best to come unless it’s really impossible so that we don’t have to let the beneficiaries down.
  • What if an activity is cancelled/changed at the last-minute?
    • It’s rare for us to cancel activities; the main reason for which we would do so is lack of volunteers. In this case, the decision to cancel might be made quite late as we might attract last-minute sign-ups to boost the numbers. If that’s not possible, we will make every effort to contact you to make sure you know that the event has been cancelled – we will send you an email and also call or text if you have provided your phone number, which we encourage you to do for this reason.
  • Is there a minimum age requirement to volunteer with Serve the City?
    • In general, no; we have welcomed volunteers of all ages in the past and often see families serve together as a shared activity. That said, different jobs have different requirements – transport issues, safety, and the difficulty of the work differ from project to project. Feel free to contact us for more information about the specific project if you’re not sure if it’s suitable for your child, but ultimately it’s up to you as a parent or guardian to decide. We do also ask for minors to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • Can you provide me with proof of volunteering to count towards my required community service hours?
    • Yes; if we know that you have attended an event, we will be more than happy to confirm that you were there – just send us an email to ask, or have the project leader sign your form on the day of the activity. It is helpful to tell us in advance that you will need proof so that we can verify your presence if none of the committee members is planning to attend.
  • I’m from another country, can I volunteer?
    • Of course! Everyone is welcome, and the vast majority of our volunteers have moved to Geneva or the surrounding area from other countries. Since we don’t require long-term commitment, you can take part even if you’re only in the area for a few weeks or months. Please note though that we don’t offer any “voluntourism” programmes (e.g. week or month-long full-time volunteering placements), so if you you’re not already in the area for another reason (work, study, family, etc.), our activities will not be suitable for you.
  • I want to come to Switzerland to volunteer, can you support my visa application/help me find accommodation?
    • Unfortunately not. As stated above, our activities are for volunteers already in the area and, given their occasional nature, we do not recommend that you come to Geneva purely to volunteer with Serve the City!
  • Where can I donate unwanted food/clothes/toys/books/furniture?

There are also numerous clothing/textile donation points (boîtes à fringue) all over the canton of Geneva – see here for those in the city or check your commune’s website.

For donations of non-perishable food items or toiletries, contact Partage or Caritas. Fresh, perishable foods are much more problematic, but Caritas or a shelter such as the Salvation Army Accueil de Nuit may be able to take them for immediate use – please contact them directly.

  • How can I give you feedback on an activity/your website/the organisation in general?
  • I have a question that’s not answered here – who should I contact?
    • The first port of call for any questions not answered here is the info@servethecitygeneva.ch Messages sent to this address are received by three of our team and will be dealt with as soon as possible. You can also contact us via our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ServeTheCityGeneva/. Please bear in mind that we fit this around our work and other commitments and sometimes we need to contact our partners in order to find the answer to your question, so we might not be able to get back to you immediately. Also, if you ask a question that doesn’t appear to need an urgent response or is already answered on the website, it may be considered a lower priority. With that in mind, please do make sure to check the website thoroughly before asking a question!