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Interview with Gabriella Civico, EYV 2011 Alliance Project Manager


The European Year of Volunteering 2011 (EYV) might have come to an end but volunteering does not seem to have lost its spot of the limelight. We simply can't get enough of it, and what better way for an overdose than to have a word with the experts, the EYV 2011 Alliance, the open, informal and growing group of European networks active in volunteering. We tracked down Gabriella Civico, EYV 2011 Alliance Project Manager for an insider's talk on the topic.

What are the main outcomes of EYV 2011?
A: Several important political documents on volunteering have been published during 2011.
•EC Communication on EU Policies and Volunteering: Recognising and Promoting Cross-border Voluntary Activities in the EU.
•Council Conclusions on Volunteering and social policy
•Council Conclusions on Volunteering and Sport
•EYV 2011 Alliance Policy Agenda on Volunteering in Europe (P.A.V.E)
The outcomes are of course much wider and far-reaching than political documents.  The EYV 2011 objectives were to develop an enabling and facilitating environment for volunteering, improve quality volunteering, increase the recognition of the value and importance of volunteering and improve possibilities to recognise individual and collective achievements through volunteering.  It is fair to say that all 4 of the EYV 2011 objectives have been met to some extent and this is especially visible in the field of recognition where the possibility to include SKAs gained through volunteering on European SKA recognition documents and tools will soon be available.
It is also important to note the adoption of the NCB declaration in Warsaw which sees EU member states commit to the follow up on EYV 2011.  You can find this and other important outcomes of EYV 2011 on the EC official website and on the complementary EYV 2011 Alliance website. 

What are the further plans of the Alliance? Will it continue working in 2012?
A: The EYV Alliance has been able to publish P.A.V.E which is a document that covers the entire spectrum of the volunteer sector – from the individual volunteer to the highest political level, as well as all actors, including civil society, policy makers, academia and the private sector. The EYV Alliance members have decided that the continuation of the EYV Alliance is key to sustaining the momentum which has been gained due to EYV 2011, as well as the high level of collaboration reached. In order to adequately prepare the proper structure of this future alliance, the EYV Alliance has decided to adopt an interim period of three months after the end of the project in the first trimester of 2012.

How would you assess the cooperation between different stakeholders such as governmental and NGOs for example?
A:   Reaching the EYV 2011 objectives required strong and transparent multi-stakeholder partnerships. EYV 2011 has enabled these partnerships to be developed and strengthened and has allowed for greater clarity in the identification of the conditions needed in Europe for volunteering to truly flourish. The legacy of EYV 2011 must be to further support and facilitate this dialogue and working together towards the implementation of concrete actions as described in P.A.V.E.

What was the most challenging aspect while working on EYV2011?
A: This was certainly our capacity to reach as many grass-roots volunteers as possible.  The EC communication campaign provided a framework for volunteer-involving organizations to highlight their work and challenges at the member state level.  From the EYV Alliance perspective we used a variety of communication tools to reach as many volunteers as possible.  Our Facebook group and interactive website is still available and the final EYV Flow will be issued in February 2012.  All the previous editions are also still available and serve as a useful resource to see the impact of EYV 2011 at different levels. 

What further actions should be taken to maintain interest in volunteering and continue improving the conditions of/for volunteering?
A: This is the easiest question! ļ The recommendations contained in P.A.V.E should be implemented! All stakeholders in volunteering should work together to support and develop volunteering in Europe. Special effort should be invested to take coordinated action to increase impact and ensure that volunteering promotion and implementation involves an inclusive approach. This will allow the capacity of volunteering to be maximised especially concerning its contribution to social cohesion and inclusion.

Gabriella Civico interviewed by Michal Klopocki, YEU Newsmail Journalist and Researcher

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