POSITION PAPER on the occasion of the International Volunteer Day

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Several non-governmental organizations and volunteers or active citizens sign this petition on the occasion of December 5, declared by the UN as International Volunteer Day, and in the context of strategic planning for EU assistance to the Eastern Partnership (2021 - 2027).

 

The UN, which also includes EU states, says in various ways that "inclusion is a defining feature of volunteering." The US Peace Corps and an impressive number of other public and non-profit institutions, reiterate, in public documents and by their example, that it is extremely important to strengthen the role of volunteering and promote a better and more systematic recognition of volunteering.

 

In the field of education, volunteering is recognized as one of the most effective tools for developing practical skills and abilities. Skills are also formed through volunteering for a better involvement in the life of the community, it being an excellent way to ensure the work experience and length of work needed for employment. Volunteering is essential as a tool for contact and communication between people, including between all EU citizens and neighboring regions. Volunteering means mobility and interaction with other cultures.

 

Active citizenship and civic involvement manifest themselves voluntarily, but community involvement will continue to be delayed without promoting a culture of volunteering in all Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries (as well as in EU countries) and the Black Sea Region.

 

For a decade, non-profit organizations in the EU and the EaP have been promoting the message that EU institutions should place the necessary importance on volunteering in their strategic documents, it being an excellent tool for involvement, applicable to all ages and social categories.

 

It is very demotivating for EaP volunteers and citizens to see, after a decade of advocacy, that EU strategy papers - which should be based on the experience of EU states and accountability for taxes paid by EU citizens - continue to ignore the importance of volunteering for all ages and in multiple fields of activity. The EU's strategy for the next 7 years of the EaP sends the message that "investing in people" means only "investing in youth" and in this case the concept of "together for resilient, fair and inclusive societies" seems doubtful. Citizens of all ages and community organizations draw attention, at all events with the presence of the EU institutions, that the concept of volunteering as a activity predominantly for youth is wrong, because in fact volunteering is as valuable when offered by people who are over 30 years of age.

 

Communities have great need of volunteers of all ages if we expect to have active citizenship models - it is not fair to neglect the value that people older than 30 can bring, having higher education, including masters and doctorates, life experience and more knowledge about participating in the formation of local budgets, certain ideas for communities, etc. Many people older than 30 years volunteer, including many professionals, and this is very valuable, because very useful contributions have been made for our communities with the involvement of these people in the development and promotion of volunteering policies, non-discrimination, health, etc.

 

Now, in the context that most of the population in the region is aging as never before (including in the EU), the involvement of those of middle-age and over is necessary, and states must identify ways of involving all age groups among disadvantaged people, women, elderly, people with reduced mobility, etc.

 

Especially during the period of COVID-19, when by virtue of age, people over 50 years of age need to stay more isolated, the emphasis should be on the concept of active aging, on the development of distance volunteering opportunities, and on identifying new ways of communication and mobility, keeping the health and lives of all volunteers safe. Therefore, the mobility of all age groups must be ensured through exchange programs for volunteers and / or experts, to share knowledge, experience and expertise, for lifelong learning and cultural development.

 

The signatories of the document are very concerned that EU and national public authorities do not yet realize that volunteering work is an important factor in compensating the insufficiency of government actions or the lack of functionality of service markets. Volunteering work also compensates for gaps in government funding, reduces state spending, contributes to the decentralization and de-bureaucratization of the service delivery process, and produces visible positive effects on the economic and criminal environment, volunteering being in fact an element of state social security.

 

The people who have taken this step warn that EU and national entities do not sufficiently recognize and support the role of volunteers during the pandemic, when local and central public authorities from the EU, the EaP and the Black Sea Region faced a major challenge in covering the needs of medical and social services. These entities thus continue to wait for the involvement of volunteers, without the EU being sensitive enough to the problems faced by volunteers and non-profit organizations that provide social services.

 

In order to promote volunteering at national and regional level, the following recommendations have been identified by civil society representatives for the EU institutions:

·         to promote a volunteering culture in the EaP (as well as in EU countries) and the Black Sea Region;

·         to emphasize the importance of recognizing volunteering and strengthening the role of volunteering, especially in crisis management of emergency situations (including pandemics), in order to assist public authorities in supporting state institutions to strengthen their capacity to develop policies, volunteering and social services;

·         to support the inclusion of volunteering as an element of state social security in national policy documents as a priority;

·         to support the development of volunteering infrastructure (consisting of the systems, mechanisms and instruments needed to ensure an environment where volunteering can contribute to the development of all sectors of society, in order to build a cohesive and inclusive society based on solidarity, active citizenship and to increase the social capital) for the countries of the EU, EaP and Black Sea Region by creating programs and support tools, introducing the focus on development of all types of volunteering, not only of youth volunteering, raising awareness in local civil society about such programs and their results, and carrying out continuous assessment of the effectiveness of their work;

·         to create conditions for the development of national and international projects in the volunteering field with the participation of and between the countries of the EU, EaP and Black Sea Region in order to strengthen and expand mutual learning, share knowledge, experience and provide expertise.

 

Individuals and organizations wishing to sign the document can do so at the e-mail address secretariat@cucap.md and on the Online Petitions website.

 

Signatories (the list is open):

Antonița Fonari, Platform for Active Citizenship and Human Rights Partnership (CAP), holder of the Civic Merit Medal (for intense volunteering activity), WG 4 of NP EaP

Andrei Gaiu, Association “Youth for the right to live” (TDV), WG 4 of NP EaP

Andrei Kolioglo, VESTA Gagauzia, WG 4 of NP EaP

Angela Stafii, The "Play with me" Group and the Psycovid Group - Moldova

Ana Cerneva, LEADER, WG 4 of NP EaP

Constanța Dohotaru, Together Against Covid-19 Initiative and the "People for People" team | voluntar.md

Gheorghe Buruiană, Association of Medical Students and Residents of Moldova

Laurențiu Racu, ELSA Republic of Moldova

Liliana Postan, Labor Institute, WG 5 of NP EaP

Tatiana Panainte, CAP, WG 5 of NP EaP

Steliana Burlacu, Foundation for Education and Development – Moldova, WG 4 of NP EaP

Nicolae Procopie, Public Policy Adviser TDV, WG 4 of NP EaP

Dumitru Stoica, Coordinator (Volunteer),  "Let's Do it Moldova!" and Volunteer Y-PEER Moldova

Oxana Nicoară Surdu, Coordinator (Volunteer) of the Campaign “ShoeBox Moldova”

Oxana Țurcanu, Neonatologist Doctor with 23 years of experience in volunteering in the field of health education

Ecaterina Iovu, Infectious Disease Doctor with 22 years of volunteering experience, holder of the Civic Merit Medal (for intense volunteering activity)

Nadejda Lepădatu, Teacher and volunteer

Silvia Vieru, Journalist and volunteer

Tatiana Baranov, District Coordinator of the National Volunteering Week (NVW)

Vera Flocea, District Coordinator of the National Volunteering Week (NVW)

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