Copenhagen’s answer to a kibbutz: instead of picking fruit, the volunteers’ efforts support charities

Globalhagen offers a similar experience to the one found in Israel: free lodgings, food and social fun in the company of internationals – and it’s all for a good cause

“I think what we can offer here is really valuable,” contends Audrius, the hostel co-ordinator of Globalhagen in Copenhagen, a small but impactful hostel in Nørrebro that has found a way to turn ‘hygge tourism’ into real, charitable action.

Supporting good causes
Furnished with a cosy cafe bar and three floors of accommodation, this Action Aid-partnered hostel uses 100 percent of its profits to support charity work in both Copenhagen and abroad. 

“What we do here is social entrepreneurship, rather than regular charity that relies simply on donations,” explained Audrius.

“By working within the need-based economy, we offer a much easier way for people to contribute to worthy causes. They [the causes] need help, we need funds to support them, and you [the customer] need somewhere cheap and nice to relax in Copenhagen. Everything you buy helps both our staff and our causes around the world – even something as small as buying a coffee or a beer in our cafe can make a difference.”

Efforts felt in 45 countries
Since 2010, Globalhagen has been raising funds for charity with its small army of dedicated volunteers and staff. As well as offering support to local activist groups and communities, every two years the team are invited to vote for which international project their work will support. 

“One of our main aims at Globalhagen is to politically empower youth, and our base here is just one of 45 different countries we work in,” explained Maizy, a resident volunteer for the hostel.

“This round [2022-2023], we’re supporting feminist leadership in Nepal, alongside fighting the horrific abuse that can occur as a result of child marriages.”

Action in Africa and the Americas
In partnership with Action Aid and its charity Mellenrummet, Globalhagen has successfully funded two-year projects all over the world. As well as providing educational outreach in Zambia and El Salvador, the charity worked tirelessly to support victims of COVID-19 in Uganda when their outreach project in the central African country was interrupted by the pandemic.

“Everyone is given support for their own charitable ideas and projects here,” said Maizy. “As well as providing a space for volunteers to relax and work comfortably, it’s also important to empower them.”

“We have a huge team of people – over 200 volunteers currently work here,” added Alex, Globalhagen’s volunteer co-ordinator. “It’s a big job to support that many people, but we work hard to make sure everyone feels listened to. We even have monthly meetings to discuss and vote on matters important to our volunteers, making sure most things are decided democratically.”

Lots of benefits
Volunteers at Globalhagen are also offered free residence and food for their work, and they enjoy a lively social calendar full of live music, art workshops and activist meet-ups. Working from their charity headquarters behind the hostel, volunteers have access to various communal and work buildings, as well as a spacious yard filled with bright murals, ping pong tables and even a small crop garden.

“I’ve been volunteering here for seven years!” enthused Sven Erik, one of the hostel’s most experienced bartenders.

“I really love working here because I know I’m helping out in the world. The companionship is great too – I work with so many young and cool people from all around the world!”

Navigates accommodation difficulties
Other volunteers have found that working at Globalhagen has helped them to find their feet in Copenhagen – a city that can be challenging for foreigners.

“Finding a place to live in Copenhagen is really tough right now, so Globalhagen has been great for me, and I really love the community here” said Rafael, another resident volunteer for the hostel.

“As a non-native, I found it really hard to compete in the high-demand property market – thanks to Globalhagen, I was able to come and stay after only a few weeks on their waiting list.”

Volunteers are the heart
Audrius, the manager, is in no doubt: this is a great opportunity for volunteers, but they need to make the most out of it.

“I like to think that it’s the volunteers who really own this place. A lot of the hard work we do is to support them – just one year with us can give a volunteer the skills, experience and contacts they need to support themselves when they leave,” revealed Audrius.

“We have plenty of volunteer success stories, but it really depends on the individual and their circumstances. The important thing isn’t just to produce success stories, though: it’s to make sure we’re consistent, and that we always provide what we can to people who need our support – here or abroad.”