Sligo European Capital of Volunteering Programme Launched
Every €1 invested in volunteers produces a return of between €5 and €8 according to assessments made by countries which value volunteering in their GDP figures.
This return far exceeded that provided by any financial institution according to Independent MEP Marian Harkin when she spoke at the launch of the Sligo European Capital of Volunteering 2017 programme in Sligo on Friday, January 27th.
The launch was attended by representatives of the previous holders of the designation – Lisbon 2015, London 2016 - and Aarhus which has been designated for 2018. The fact that Sligo was capable of being assessed alongside such great European cities spoke volumes for the level and quality of volunteering in Co. Sligo, she said.
“Great credit is due to Sligo County Council and to Sligo Volunteering Centre for their enterprise in seeking and obtaining such a prestigious designation which of course reflects huge credit on the work of volunteers and the level of volunteering in the capital of the North West”, Marian Harkin said.
The concept of designating a European Capital of volunteering had emerged from the campaign she created in the European Parliament which led to the designation of 2011 as the European Year of Volunteering, she said. This initiative had been very successful in highlighting the role and value of volunteering.
“Following on from 2011, the European Volunteering Centre produced a Policy Agenda for Volunteering in Europe and this now provides the basis for a lot of our work at EU level - and of course the European Volunteering Capital designation was initiated. Some of the main policies we are implementing at EU level, include:-
1. Ensuring that Volunteer time is used as matching funding for projects.
2. Measuring the monetary value of volunteering. It is estimated that for every €1 invested in Volunteers there is a return of between €5 & €8.
I don’t know of any financial institution that would give that rate of return, so we also must calculate the contribution of volunteers to our GDP, our national wealth, because for many people, particularly decision makers.
If you can’t count it, it doesn’t count.
“Of course, it is also important to say that there is also real personal satisfaction to be gained from Volunteering, in that you know you are contributing. You know that your actions, your efforts matter in your community and your place. And in a world that’s so uncertain, where strong forces seem to take over and threaten our way of life or to overwhelm us. When we sometimes wonder – how can I make a difference in a world that keeps moving and changing, Well Volunteering takes us back to our roots and it gives value to our efforts to build a better place to live at the local level. Nobody can take that from us – no politician – no matter how powerful. No Corporation – no matter how wealthy, because volunteering has the power to build trust and it helps us find dignity and meaning as human beings, because we are making a difference.
“So that completes the circle and brings us back to Sligo – to the thousands of volunteers – some lifetime volunteers – others who dip in an out as they can – All are part of the powerful community we celebrate here this evening.
“This year we have the opportunity:
• To showcase what is best about this great county and city.
• To build on what has gone on for generations and more recent times such as The Fleadh
• We have the opportunity to respond to the honour that designates Sligo as European Capital of Volunteering,
• And to use this title as a chance to recognise, facilitate and support the wonderful volunteers, whose efforts have made today and this year a reality”