Time to give something back to 100 million unsung heroes
Today, 5 December 2006 is the UN International Day of the Volunteer. To mark this event, ALDE co-organised a seminar in the European Parliament on Volunteering involving a cross section of volunteer workers and representatives of European institutions. Over 100 million people are involved in volunteering in Europe which represents 25% of the total population of the EU. Cutbacks in the 2007-13 budget framework for this area, along with lack of recognition of the skills acquired through volunteer programmes are a huge concern.
Marian Harkin, MEP (Ind. Irl), who was the co-organiser of this event, which heard from volunteers from all over Europe as well as representatives from the European Commission, commented " As the EU evolves it is essential that it incorporates in its legislation and in is policies full recognition of the huge economic and social role of volunteering. Every Euro spent by Governments or by the European Commission on volunteering leverages an additional 30 euros back to society. This is massive value added - you quite simply will not get better value for money." Marian also called for a "European year of Volunteering" but underlined that "Issues such as the visa obstacles that hinder some EU citizens who want to volunteer in another member state must be tackled urgently. "
She concluded "A European charter for volunteering is needed to help with the recognition of skills acquired through volunteering programmes and to promote a more broad based involvement in volunteering by all sectors of society. Volunteering promotes social cohesion - it is the glue that holds societies together".