From declarations to the recognition of volunteering experiences
What is the future holding for volunteering?
The European Year of Volunteering is slowly coming to its end but will there be any practical outcomes from it? Indeed it seems so, considering the fact that thanks to its promotion during the year volunteering has now been highly placed into the agenda. During the past two months several important documents were adopted by different stakeholders and all of them highlighted the role of volunteering in contemporary societies.
This topic was addressed very strongly during the “II Youth Convention on Volunteering” where during the Stakeholders’ Conference, the declaration “The Rights of the Volunteer - Declaration on the Need of a rights-based approach towards Volunteering” was adopted on the 8th of September 2011 in the European Parliament in Brussels. The declaration emphasizes the importance of a rich-based approach towards volunteering. What does that mean? It means that acknowledging the diversity of volunteering across Europe is important to ensure proper environment for volunteers across the continent accompanied by a supportive infrastructure that recognizes the value of their engagement.
The Declaration also defines some common challenges in volunteering like the lack of common standards, the unsustainable funds for NGOs and the lack of supporting structures. What is recommended then? The “Charter on the Rights and Responsibilities of the Volunteers” should be adopted and awareness about volunteering should be raised in order to improve the legal framework on volunteering. The same approach is seen in the EU Commission’s “Communication on EU Policies and Volunteering: Recognizing and Promoting Cross-border Voluntary Activities in the EU” adopted on the 20th of September 2011, which has a slightly broader analysis of the situation of volunteers in Europe. Also, the declaration of the 12th UYD in Mollina, under the title “Let’s keep on volunteering for global development”, highlights the importance of volunteering in reaching the Millennium Development Goals. Finally, the “Conclusions on role of volunteering” adopted by the Council of EU on the 3rd of October also puts volunteering in the spotlight as an expression of active citizenship in all areas of social life.
One could wonder if all those documents are something relevant to the actions of volunteers on grass-root level in Europe. Certainly, the recognition of volunteering could be very helpful and could have an impact on the lives of thousands of volunteers, making the decision to volunteer easier to take. Of course it is a long-term process which requires a lot of effort and time. Let’s hope that this atmosphere of celebrating EYV will remain after the 31st of December and only this will show the real impact of such actions.
Newsmail Journalist and Researcher