2011 To Be EU Year of Volunteering
Volunteering is an antidote to the worst excesses of the Celtic Tiger and can play an important role in responding to the current global crisis.
This was stated by Marian Harkin MEP when she spoke in Rome at a Conference on Volunteering where she was the featured speaker on the subject of 'Volunteers - EU Citizens'.
She said:- “The current crisis is not just a financial one but it reflects our concept of society and how we live our lives. The values of solidarity, not for profit, community participation are inherent in volunteering and must form part of our response to the current crisis. From a financial perspective alone, volunteering accounts for between 5-7 % GDP and for every €1 invested in volunteering, there is a return of €5 to €7. No bank would give that return, so it is crucial that in the economic downturn there are no cutbacks on voluntary organisation because that would be a false economy. We need solidarity now like we have never needed it and we need to ensure that the most vulnerable are fully included in society. Volunteering is an antidote to the worst excesses of the Celtic Tiger and the not-for-profit ethos must be a major part of our recovery plan.
“One thing is certain, we have reached a watershed in how our society is functioning and the way out of our difficulties will not be the same route we travelled on our way”.
Addressing representatives from all over Italy, Marian Harkin said that the respect in which volunteering was held across Europe was reflected in the vote of 639 MEPs last April to support the proposal in her report to introduce measures which recognised and valued the contribution of volunteering at national and EU levels.
She told delegates at the Rome conference that her written declaration which had been supported by the European Parliament to designate year 2011 as ‘The Year of Volunteering’ had been accepted by the European Commission and an official announcement of 2011 as the European Year on Volunteering was expected shortly.
In a period of unprecedented economic and social turmoil there was the constant real value of volunteering ranging from meals on wheels to the training of the football team, she said. “In a world which has seen such excess of greed, and erosion of real values, volunteering stands out as a shining light reflecting the inherent goodness of people whose efforts remain a constant and dependable force for good throughout society”, Marian Harkin MEP said.