Sligo, an Irish town with a population of 20,000 inhabitants has been designated as the European Volunteering Capital 2017. This means that the town in the north of the Republic of Ireland will take over from London, which was the nominated capital for 2016, after other cities such as Lisbon (2015). The seven candidate cities included Belfast, London, Edinburgh, Bruges and Cagliari. The award, created by the European Volunteer Centre, was granted to Barcelona as the first European Volunteering Capital in 2014.
The jury concluded that Sligo meets all the required features to be awarded this distinction. On the one hand, volunteering organisations were trained in the rights and responsibilities of volunteers. Furthermore, its volunteering strategies unite the public administration with non-profit organisations and thus create good synergies to work together and be adequately interlinked. Also, training in volunteering is recognised and volunteers enjoy public recognition, also through campaigns that foster and encourage future volunteers to work especially with people at risk of social exclusion.
The candidature was submitted by Sligo’s town council and the Sligo Volunteer Centre, to mark the centre’s 10th anniversary. The jury studied the other candidates and concluded that “the municipality’s volunteering strategies can have a transformative effect on local communities.”
London 2016 & Aarhus 2018
During 2016, London has been the European Volunteering Capital. The jury valued facts such as the mobilisation of more than 120,000 active volunteers, the development of the first volunteering App in the United Kingdom, and the support of around 1,600 organisations or innovation in volunteering through projects such as HeadStart.
After Sligo, in 2018 Aarhus will take the helm. The Danish municipality was chosen for its “strategy for an active citizenship that is based on a clear and adequate funding mechanism for volunteering in non-profit organisations", according to the jury. The jury also noticed the way in which volunteering policies are linked to strategies for employability, health and social inclusion as an example to be followed by other cities.