Year of Volunteering launched

Four main objectives encourage more citizens to join in and care for those in need

Photo: Pho­to: eu­re­ EC Vice-Pres­i­dent Viv­i­a­ne Red­ing, re­spon­si­ble for Jus­tice, Fun­da­men­tal Rights and Cit­i­zen­ship.

On 8 Jan­u­ary, the Eu­ro­pe­an Com­mis­sion, to­geth­er with the Hun­ga­ri­an EU Pres­i­den­cy, cer­e­mo­ni­al­ly laun­ched the Eu­ro­pe­an Year of Vol­un­teer­ing 2011(EYV2011), EC press of­fice an­nounced.

On 8 Jan­u­ary, the Eu­ro­pe­an Com­mis­sion, to­geth­er with the Hun­ga­ri­an EU Pres­i­den­cy, cer­e­mo­ni­al­ly laun­ched the Eu­ro­pe­an Year of Vol­un­teer­ing 2011 (EYV2011), EC press of­fice an­nounced. The event al­so sees the in­au­gu­ra­tion of the Hun­ga­ri­an stage of the EYV2011 Tour - a one-year trav­el­ling road­show that will vis­it the cap­i­tals of each Mem­ber State to give vol­un­teer­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions the op­por­tu­ni­ty to show­case their work and en­gage with pol­i­cy mak­ers and the gen­er­al pub­lic.

On the same day the Hun­ga­ri­an EU Pres­i­den­cy is al­so or­ga­nis­ing a con­fer­ence on "Rec­og­nis­ing the con­tri­bu­tion of vol­un­teer­ing to econ­o­my, so­ci­e­ty and the in­di­vid­u­al - where are we now, and where do we want to go?" Sev­er­al cul­tur­al ac­tiv­i­ties ac­com­pa­ny the launch event and the con­fer­ence.

To high­light vol­un­teer­ing ef­forts and en­cour­age more cit­i­zens to join in, the Eu­ro­pe­an Com­mis­sion kick­ed off 2 De­cem­ber the 2011 Eu­ro­pe­an Year of Vol­un­teer­ing. Vice-Pres­i­dent Viv­i­a­ne Red­ing, EU Com­mis­sion­er for Jus­tice, Fun­da­men­tal Rights and Cit­i­zen­ship, joined by Jean-Marc Del­i­zee, Bel­gi­um's fed­er­al Sec­re­tary of State for So­cial Af­fairs, and Eu­ro­pe­an Par­lia­ment Mem­ber Ma­ri­an Har­kin, pre­sent­ed the year's slo­gan: "Vol­un­teer! Make a dif­fer­ence."

"I want to pay trib­ute to the mil­lions of Eu­ro­pe­ans who take the time to make our world a bet­ter place," Viv­i­a­ne Red­ing said at the cer­e­mo­ny. "Deep with­in all of us lies the abil­i­ty to step up and care for those in need. Vol­un­teer­ing stren­g­th­ens our core Eu­ro­pe­an val­ues: sol­i­dar­i­ty and so­cial co­he­sion. As we launch the Eu­ro­pe­an Year of Vol­un­teer­ing, I want to ral­ly sup­port for peo­ple who make a dif­fer­ence. Now is the time for us to share and to give some­thing back, for us to fo­cus on help­ing the help­ers!"

The 2011 Eu­ro­pe­an Year of Vol­un­teer­ing has four main ob­jec­tives: low­er­ing ob­sta­cles to vol­un­teer­ing in the EU; em­pow­er­ing vol­un­teer or­gan­i­sa­tions and im­proving the qual­i­ty of vol­un­teer­ing; re­ward­ing and rec­og­nising vol­un­teer­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and rais­ing aware­ness of the val­ue and im­por­tance of vol­un­teer­ing.

To meet these goals, the Com­mis­sion will en­cour­age the ex­change of good prac­ti­ces be­tween Mem­ber States' au­thor­i­ties and vol­un­teer­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions. The fo­cus will be on train­ing vol­un­teers, ac­cred­i­ta­tion and qual­i­ty as­sur­ance, and ef­fi­cient and ef­fect­ive matching of po­ten­tial vol­un­teers and vol­un­teer­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. The Com­mis­sion will en­cour­age new Eu­rope-wide net­work­ing in­i­ti­a­tives to en­cour­age cross-bor­der ex­chan­ges and syn­er­gies among vol­un­teer or­gan­i­sa­tions and oth­er sec­tors, es­pe­cial­ly with busi­ness­es.

The Com­mis­sion helps young peo­ple par­tic­i­pate in vol­un­teer­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. Through the Eu­ro­pe­an Vol­un­tary Serv­ice, thou­sands of ad­o­les­cents and young adults trav­el out­side their home coun­tries to teach, pro­mote cul­tur­al aware­ness and de­vel­op im­por­tant life skills. For ex­am­ple, vol­un­teers at a home in Co­pen­ha­gen called Ve­ra­hus help the dis­a­bled res­i­dents in their dai­ly lives. They ar­range lei­sure-time ac­tiv­i­ties with the res­i­dents, such as paint­ing, mu­sic, games, sports and ac­com­pa­ny them on trips.

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