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Caritas Europa urges European and national policy makers to support the importance of volunteering - Policy Statement on the European Year of Volunteering 2011

Date

29 Jul 2011

Sections

Justice & Home Affairs
Social Europe & Jobs

Caritas Europa calls upon the European Union as well as upon the Council of Europe to urge European and national policy makers to acknowledge and support the importance of volunteering for a more humane society of solidarity, and to help volunteering further develop and realize its full potential. For Caritas, volunteering is a part of its values and identity; the personal commitment of Christians and citizens with their neighbours in situation of poverty or exclusion, an action of solidarity. Volunteers are an essential part of Caritas’ actions.

The Executive Board of Caritas Europa has approved a Policy Statement on volunteering, underlining the following:

  • first of all to recognize and make visible the role of volunteers and their contribution to society.
  • that in every country a legal framework should exist that provides basic legal recognition of, and legal protection for volunteers, taking into account the specificity of volunteering while avoiding to impose too many restrictions or too much administrative burden that would hinder volunteering instead of promoting it.
  • the need to strengthen support structures that offer training and accompaniment for volunteers. The quality and added value of volunteering also depend on the quality of the support that volunteers receive.
  • special attention should be given to volunteering initiatives that empower poor and excluded people by taking up a role in society –also giving them the opportunity to volunteer on their turn-, as well as to initiatives that introduce new forms of volunteering and of volunteer exchanges within the European as well as within the global context.
  • at the same time though, the European Institutions and national political bodies should remain vigilant that volunteering should not be instrumentalised as a form of cheap labour, replacing paid work. Neither should it be instrumentalised to substitute the duties of governments or local authorities in the areas of health care, social services or social work, or in international cooperation.

Caritas Solidarity Festival around the International Day of Volunteering

Around the International Day of Volunteering, which is celebrated on 5 December, Caritas organisations from all over Europe will meet in Strasbourg from 2 to the 5 of December. This event, organised mainly by Secours Catholique, will festively close this year’s focus on volunteering, celebrate the commitment of hundreds of thousands of volunteers, reiterate the aforementioned demands and bring them once again to the attention of the European Institutions, both from the European Union and the Council of Europe.

Caritas will advocate for the aforementioned demands at European and national level in their discussions with authorities and policy makers. They will do so in collaboration with other likeminded organisations, in particular with Alliance, a group of European networks active in volunteering, of which Caritas is a member.

Caritas Europa and its member organisations will be taking the opportunity of this European Year to highlight and strengthen their own initiatives regarding volunteering in the manifold areas of their work and on the various levels where volunteers are active – be it on local, regional, diocesan, national, European and international level.

Above all, Caritas Europa will seize the opportunity of this European Year to express a heartfelt thank you to all those who, through their commitment in a spirit of gratuitousness, contribute to a better world for so many people who dwell at the margins of society, hence contributing to the realisation of the Civilisation of Love that we believe in and that constitutes the cornerstone of our Caritas vision and mission.

For more information, please contact:

Thorfinnur Omarsson 

Communication Officer

Tel: + 32 4 73341393

tomarsson@caritas-europa.org 

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