The status of the European Engagement Strategy is unfortunately at a very basic level. There is a lack of coordination between institutions and between policy fields on the topics of inter alia: Civil and Social Dialogue; European Democracy Action Plan; Civic Education; Citizen Consultation (citizens panels), Civil Protection, and Volunteering. The follow-up to the Conference on the Future of Europe and the implementation of Article 11 of the Lisbon Treaty, that aims for structured dialogue between European Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the European Institutions however, provides an ideal framework for better development of the strategy. CEV collaborates with other members of Civil Society Europe on this matter and is leading the campaign to make 2025 the European Year of Volunteers, with the support of the European Economic and Social Committee, which would enable a more clear focus on the volunteering aspects of an Engagement Strategy as well as celebrating and supporting the crucial role of volunteers in these challenging times.
Blueprint for European Volunteering 2030
In the European Year of Volunteering 2011 CEV, together with other European Civil Society networks active in the field of volunteering, created the Policy Agenda for Volunteering in Europe (PAVE) and BBE played a key role in this process. In 2021, the 10th anniversary year – »EYVPlus10« – we developed the »Blueprint for European Volunteering 2030 (BEV2030)«. It was approved by the CEV members at the Autumn Congress in Berlin. With this new document we want to remind policymakers of the crucial role that volunteering plays in social cohesion, implementation of EU Values, Social Transformation and interpersonal relationships. The ideas gathered in the Blueprint show the outcomes that we want to see achieved in the next ten years through the necessary cross sector and cross field collaboration.
The 5 Thematic Concepts of BEV2030
BEV2030 is structured around 5 thematic concepts: Independent and inclusive Engagement, New volunteers and Methods, Empowerment, Appreciation of Contribution & Resources for More Value.
1. For volunteering to thrive, it needs to be set in a framework based on Dignity & Freedom that enables independent and inclusive engagement that is open to everyone – we need to see transparent and democratic state funding in place that truly supports democratic engagement; AND policies and programmes that facilitate transnational cooperation & Solidarity; Local Community Development; and Collaborative Networking.
2. New people are engaging in volunteering all the time and new methods and approaches for engagement are being constantly explored and developed in the sector that is characterised by its dynamic and flexible nature. BEV2030 describes what needs to be in place to ensure that any new ways of engaging people as volunteers are based on quality principles; how volunteering needs to adapt to reflect new employment patterns; digital possibilities; non-formal engagement & emerging trends such as voluntourism. The need for synergies between volunteering and social and welfare policies is also highlighted.
3. BEV2030 aims to support the empowerment of even more people to engage through legal and policy frameworks that facilitate stability and sustainability in the volunteering sector; and are enabling and inclusive.
4. Volunteers should be appreciated for the contribution they make, going beyond their role in service delivery and being truly appreciated for their potential as a force for the common good. Research & measurement of the value of volunteering should look further than GDP. Volunteers should have the opportunity to have any learning acquired while volunteering to be validated.
5. The Blueprint shares what is needed for volunteering to be of even more value to society. It lays out how the compassion, altruism, generosity and solidarity that underpins volunteering takes place in context, and that context should be an enabling one supported by appropriate public & private resources. BEV2030 highlights how Public funding should reflect the true cost of volunteering, the true value of the contribution of volunteers, and the needs of infrastructure organisations; how volunteering should be an integral part of the community planning for crisis prevention and response and take into account the physical, mental and social safety of volunteers and the beneficiaries of their actions; BEV2030 also stresses the importance of funding and training for volunteer managers and mentors; for online matching systems to be developed with great care; and the need for the European Solidarity Corps and the proposed platform for older people volunteering to be a starting point for broader and more comprehensive European policy for volunteering.
Volunteering: A Catalyst for Social Transformation and European Values
It is clear to all of us in CEV that volunteering is playing a key role in the lives of current and future generations and that volunteering is a main agent of a true social transformation that supports social inclusion and solidarity; underpins active citizenship, community resilience and social engagement; and promotes shared responsibilities & European values. We know that volunteering can actively prevent hate speech, promote inclusion and tolerance, contribute to an intergenerational approach and enable citizens to be directly active in developing the Europe they strive for.
CEV connects individual and collective volunteer efforts in promoting and defending European Rights and Values to the European Context, and local, regional & national volunteering and engagement strategies more generally with European policy frameworks. The »Blueprint for European Volunteering 2030« helps CEV connect with members and partners to do this and we are happy to have BBE as part of this process.
CEV and BBE’s Partnership in Advancing Volunteering Practices
BBE is a central and essential member of CEV representing the biggest network of volunteering involving and volunteer infrastructure organisations in Europe. In the past, BBE has nominated members of the CEV Board and they have been elected. BBE has also participated with CEV and other member organisations in several Erasmus Plus projects relevant to volunteering. Currently, BBE is partnering with CEV to implement activities in Germany in the framework of our grant from the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Fund under the title VERA: Volunteering, Equality, Rights and Action. These are: Training on »Funding Volunteering through Participatory Budgeting«; »Training on Combating and Preventing Domestic Violence and Gender Violence as a Result of War via Volunteering«; #REVIVE (Revealing European Values In Volunteering in Europe) Seminar and the MEP Volunteer »Job Shadowing«.
Defending the rights of others is the basis of solidarity, one of the values on which the EU was founded. We hope that even in these challenging times for Europe, all stakeholders will continue the work done before, during and after the EP elections in 2024 to develop the EU as an enabling environment for volunteering, facilitating the role that volunteering plays in promoting and sharing the fundamental rights of all citizens in the EU as part of a coordinated volunteering policy within a broader EU Engagement Strategy. Our »Vote Volunteer Vision Campaign«, updated for the 2024 EP elections, will help all CEV members, including BBE, to have the biggest impact.