The end of one year and new expectations from the new is a good time to see what has remained significant in the year behind us and what can be the inspiration for the future.
In 2019, volunteers around the world reminded us how fragile and valuable our planet is, how important it is to advocate for democracy, human rights and dignity. Volunteering is not a value in itself. Other values are those that give full meaning to volunteering. The existing social trends give us a good reason to remind ourselves of the very essence of volunteer engagement: the potential to bring democratic values to life experience, to build bridges, improve our social relationships, as neighbours, as citizens and as human beings. And for that we need to think of volunteering as an individual expression of free will, but also as a collective effort.
Researchers around the world have provided enough evidence to support the importance of volunteerism for individual and social well-being. This is still not enough however for volunteering to attract sufficient political attention to become a part of major policy developments. At the same time, 2019 was also the year of some strong voices pushing for an alternative future based on well-being and inclusive growth in which volunteering can make an important contribution. Therefore, our task for the future is to embrace social inclusion as one of the core values of volunteering and invest more in the motivation, education and support to volunteer involving organizations to explore the potential of inclusive volunteering. Moreover, it is very important to think about the real meaning of solidarity and encourage people to challenge stereotypes, fight discrimination and change existing perception of what those who have been treated as passive receivers can do for themselves and society.
In 2019, young people have started a global movement for our planet. One of the most common patronizing stories for young people is that they are our future and we expect them to become self- aware and diligent people with a sense of duty to others and the environment, to their own future and to generations to come. Young people must become our present without delay. Volunteering as a civic education can provide opportunities to contribute to a better world, to express creativity and ingenuity, to be proactive, compassionate and work together. In addition, it is a source of social energy for solidarity with groups in need. Equally important in volunteering can be the development of self-esteem and social skills that are important for the development of each individual, which brings us back to an alternative well-being future.
In 2020 the European Volunteer Centre is entering with the vision of Europe in which volunteers are central in building a cohesive, sustainable and inclusive society based on solidarity and active citizenship. CEV is starting the new energy to provide collaborative leadership for individuals and organisations that are active in the volunteering and civil society spheres to share, learn and inspire one another enabling the value of quality volunteering as an expression of active participation, solidarity and European values. Creating new and innovative responses to challenges such as new faces of volunteering, increasing grass root movements, fast digitalization, solidarity and activism are opportunities for new models of community outreach.