In 2018, Aarhus has held the title as European Volunteering Capital. The title is given each year by the European Volunteer Centre (CEV) to a European city or municipality which has been particularly notable in terms of volunteering.
In Aarhus, the vision for the year as Volunteering Capital has been to celebrate and recognize volunteers and increase the visibility of volunteering - through events, sharing of knowledge and inviting new people into our communities; to test and develop new ways to improve welfare through voluntarism, active citizenship and cooperation. One of the main objectives was to make voluntarism fun, easy and accessible for everyone. During the year, this was addressed through a focus on four core values: Legacy, Diversity, Social Inclusion and Cooperation.
The Central Denmark Region was a strong partner throughout the year, which created the opportunity to focus on the effects, volunteering and communities have on both our mental and physical health.
The year included numerous workshops and small-scale festivals focusing on different topics within the spectrum of volunteering and civil society, as well as three main events.
On January 21st, Aarhus’ year as European Volunteering Capital was officially opened by Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary – royal patron of the Volunteering Capital. This took place at a ceremony at the Aarhus City Hall. During the day, local venue Ridehuset hosted a large volunteer fair, where more than 100 volunteer associations and organisations shared their communities with curious citizens. The fair was an inspiring mix of dialogue, music and performing arts, fire brands and community dining.
Folkets Møde – the Aarhus Volunteer Festival
On 21st-23rd September, the Volunteering Capital presented Folkets Møde in collaboration with 6 strategic partners and 235 partners from various volunteer associations and organisations.
Over the course of a weekend, audiences could participate in 70 events that were a vibrant mix of debates, workshops, street sport, culture bazar, community singing and dining, festivals within the festival, book launches and much more. All in all, more than 50 debaters gave their perspectives on volunteering, civil society, new ways to welfare and more.
Closing event: Volunteering in the Future
From 3rd-5th December, the Volunteering Capital in collaboration with Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality presented an international conference. The final day consisted of a learning conference for 350 participants, a party in Tivoli Friheden celebrating the volunteers all over the Central Denmark Region and a closing ceremony and gala dinner, where it was revealed that the Italian city of Padova will become the European Volunteering Capital in 2020. Congratulations to Padova, and good luck to European Volunteering Capital Košice 2019.
Key learnings and recommendations
A concrete output from the knowledge gained during Aarhus’ year as European Volunteering Capital is 8 recommendations on volunteering in the future. These recommendations were handed over to Mai Mercado, Minister for Children and Social Affairs, Mads Roke Clausen, chairman for the National Council of Volunteering, and Jacob Bundsgaard, chairman of Local Government Denmark, at the conference on December 5th.
The 8 recommendations are:
1. Open up established local communities and invite new members on every occasion
2. Make it easily accessible to join communities and help prevent loneliness
3. Prioritize lifelong training in active citizenship
4. Acknowledge diversity in volunteering
5. Rethink financing and funding structures
6. Create a visible gateway for volunteering and active citizenship
7. Share resources, spaces and knowledge
8. Be prepared to take risks
An extensive catalogue of the knowledge and recommendations can be downloaded at www.frivillighovedstad.dk