Volunteerism is best appreciated by people who need help from the community

“Voluntarism in the European Union is regulated differently in each member state. That is why the European Commission has decided to declare the year 2011 as the European Year of Volunteers, in order to see which solutions are best done at the European level and which solutions are the best on local and national levels”, said Natalia Dianiskova, Head of the EU Delegation’s Section for Social Development, Civil Society and Cross-Border Cooperation, during seminar “Southeast Europe Youth for the European Year of Volunteering 2011”.

“According to surveys that we made, there is a difference in the percentage of people who volunteer at the EU level. In countries like Sweden there is 40 percent of the population included in volunteerism, while there are countries like Italy and Spain, where less than 10 percent of the people are involved in volunteering," said Dianiskova, adding that the goal of the European year of volunteering is to see what the situation is in this regard and how to draw attention to these differences.

According to her, the EU allocated two million Euro for implementation of programs related to volunteerism. Each country can delegate its own program and make recommendations how to regulate this sector on best possible way. The Seminar on the politics of volunteering in the Southeast Europe, is taking place in Sarajevo from 20 to 25 June, 2011. The seminar aims at bringing together all key stakeholders of volunteerism policy in Southeast Europe, in order to exchange experiences, best practices and knowledge in defining and implementing volunteering policy in South East Europe. The seminar participants were young people from across the region gathered by the Southeast Europe Youth Network (SEEYN) which includes 16 NGOs from Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia.

Deputy Head of Mission of the Polish Embassy in BiH Emanulea Suprowicz, said that in her country volunteering is at a solid level, because its people by nature express solidarity. Also, in her opinion volunteerism in each country is a matter of good will of people. She said that she is very happy that her country in the next period takes over the EU Presidency, while the European Year of volunteerism is still on, because it is very important to work on promotion of volunteerism, cohesion of society and to bring volunteerism up to the next level. Aida Daguda, Director of the Center for Civil Society Promotion, said that volunteerism should be more discussed because it was the potential that could contribute to any society but unfortunately, that potential is not enough used in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “According to the field experience across the country, there are many people in BiH who want to do something for the community, to help and to improve living conditions”, said Daguda.

However, they need support in the form of a favorable legal framework for volunteering. The seminar was an opportunity to see how it was regulated in other countries. General impression of participants is that volunteerism has not been given the attention that it deserved. However, it was appreciated by the people who had direct benefits from volunteering; the people who need help from the community. On the other hand on this way, people who volunteer gain new experiences, the life ones and working ones. Volunteering is a chance for young people without a job should not fail to use, because volunteering in companies, NGOs and government institutions will enable them in acquiring knowledge and experience and eventually facilitate job search.

This event is supported by Council of Europe – European Youth Foundation, OSCE Mission to BiH, European Commission – Youth in Action Programme, Technical Assistance for Civil Society Organization in BiH (TACSO BiH) and Civil Society Promotion Centre (CSPC). More info on European Year of Volunteering at: http://europa.eu/volunteering/