Media information of 13 Mai 2019

Volunteering with refugees highly popular with the Swiss public

Integrating refugees is inconceivable without the substantial participation of numerous volunteers around Switzerland. For the first time, a representative study commissioned by HEKS/EPER reveals the dimensions and potential of voluntary work with refugees. Through the online platform for volunteers, HEKS/EPER endeavours specifically to harness and coordinate this potential.

Two thirds of the Swiss population (64%) have sporadic or regular contact with refugees. By far, such contacts take place most frequently through the school or workplace (48%). The Swiss also make contact with refugees through their circle of friends (22%), their neighbourhood (21%) or leisure activities (17%).

Volunteering on behalf of refugees is extremely popular among the Swiss: 24 per cent, or every fourth person who has had contact with refugees has already done voluntary work on their behalf. Four per cent do so regularly. Thus, over 15 per cent of the Swiss people have already been active on behalf of refugees. Of the 42.7 per cent of the Swiss population who do voluntary work across all subject areas (sport, culture, politics, social work, etc.), more than a third have therefore been involved with refugee matters.[1]

A leisure time connection

Swiss citizens prefer most of all to link their engagement for refugees with one of their favourite leisure-time activities. People get involved mostly as part of collective social activities (33%), e.g. collective sporting activities or cooking, or by helping out with recreational programmes for refugee children (30%). Their involvement, however, is distributed relatively evenly across other activities that help provide refugees with guidance for everyday life in Switzerland and facilitate their social integration. Twenty-six per cent regularly assist refugees on a day-to-day basis, 24 per cent help them learn the local language and 20 per cent support them in their search for apprenticeships or employment.

The bar is higher when it comes to offering living space to refugees – to date, only 9 per cent of those who have become involved have taken on this longer-term commitment. As regards personal commitment, there was hardly any mention of donations in kind (8%) or financial support (2%).

People who have never been involved on behalf of refugees have so far not had the time (24%) or the interest (26%). For over 50 per cent, such involvement has simply never occurred, or they lack ideas as to how or where they could get involved (5%). Over a third of respondents who have never been involved on behalf of refugees would be happy to do so on a meaningful scale (38%).

Engagiert für Geflüchtete: Sprachcafé Russikon
HEKS/EPER Survey on Volunteering
Commitment for fugitives in Switzerland

(Text available in German)

Volunteering as an important pillar for the integration of refugees

These are the findings of a representative survey conducted by the research Institute «DemoSCOPE» on behalf of Swiss Church Aid (HEKS/EPER) in early 2019. Its purpose was to elucidate the scale and potential of voluntary work in the realm of refugees in Switzerland. The findings are encouraging. HEKS/EPER is therefore committed to building up the nationwide online platform «» for voluntary work in connection with refugees.

Interested organizations seeking volunteers may register their projects on This platform enables potential volunteers for their part to find volunteering opportunities in line with their preferences in numerous organizations throughout Switzerland. Until World Refugee Day on 20 June 2019, HEKS/EPER will be mounting an information campaign to make this platform known to a broader interested public, with a view to expanding, pooling and coordinating refugee-related voluntary work.

[1] Federal Statistical Office (FSO) (2017): Swiss Labour Force Survey (SLFS), Voluntary work. May be viewed at:

Samuel Berner
Head of Media and Information Department
Samuel Berner

Phone: +41 44 360 88 25
Mobile: +41 76 461 88 70