The importance of volunteering in the post-pandemic society and what are its challenges

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  • Volunteering, a challenge in the post-pandemic era.
    Volunteering, a challenge in the post-pandemic era. Source: Pexels.

Volunteering has a significant impact on the lives of current and future generations.

Syasya Roslan


Policy Assistant at Civil Society Europe (CSE).

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Many of the Civil Society Europe (CSE) members were heavily engaged In the European Year of Volunteering 2011 when the Policy Agenda for Volunteering in Europe (PAVE) was created. In 2021, the 10th anniversary year - EYVPlus10 - the Centre for European Volunteering (CEV) has developed the Blueprint for European Volunteering 2030 (BEV2030) which has already been endorsed by a number of CSE members. BEV2030 is structured around 5 thematic concepts: Independent and Inclusive Engagement; New Volunteers and Methods; Empowerment; Appreciation of Contribution & Resources and Coordination.

CSE agrees with the Blueprint's message that we must remind policymakers of the critical role that volunteering plays in social cohesion, the application of EU values, social transformation, and interpersonal relationships. The Blueprint's principles clearly illustrate that the outcomes needed for volunteering in the next ten years require systematic and sustainable cross-sector and cross-field collaboration.

It is true in general, but especially in the "post-pandemic" era, that for volunteering to thrive, it must be put in a framework based on dignity and freedom, allowing for independent and inclusive activity that is open to all. This necessitates the establishment of open and democratic state funding that actually supports democratic engagement, as well as policies and programs that facilitate: Transnational Cooperation and Solidarity; Local Community Development; and Collaborative Networking.

New volunteers are constantly being sought, and the demands that have arisen as a result of the pandemic have exacerbated this trend. New methods and approaches to volunteer engagement are always being researched and developed in this sector, which is distinguished by its dynamic and flexible nature. CSE believes with BEV2030 that any new approaches of enlisting volunteers should be founded on quality principles. In this overarching quality-focused paradigm, organizations must carefully evaluate how to modify their volunteering options to match the changed job patterns that many people are experiencing (e.g zero hours and flexible contracts).The opportunities made available in the digital domain must also be supported by quality principles, non-formal participation, and developing trends such as voluntourism, must be monitored and quality-controlled. Better synergies between volunteering and social and welfare policies are also desperately needed especially in the post pandemic period when more people are in receipt of social payments, possibly for the first time.

BEV2030 outlines what is required for volunteering to be even more valuable to society. It explains how the compassion, altruism, generosity, and solidarity that underpin volunteering take place in context, and how that context should be supportive with appropriate public and private resources. BEV2030 highlights how public funding must represent both the genuine cost of volunteering and the true value of volunteers' contributions. This is also crucial for Member States' post-COVID19 recovery plans, which, sadly, have not always taken this into account.

BEV2030 aspires to enable even more people to participate by establishing legal and policy frameworks that promote stability and sustainability in the volunteering sector, as well as being enabling and inclusive. CSE agrees and believes that volunteers should be recognized for their contributions that go beyond their position in service delivery towards their potential as a force for the common good. To assist policymakers in making this a reality, research and measurement of the value of volunteering should be organised in a comparable manner across European countries, looking beyond GDP. Meeting the difficulty of ensuring that all volunteers who seek to have any learning gained while volunteering validated is also vital to the COVID19 recovery phase.

Policymakers must respond to current societal challenges by taking into account the demands of volunteer infrastructure organizations, namely the capacity to respond to the training and support needs of volunteering organizations and programs that contribute to crisis prevention and response. Volunteering should be an intrinsic aspect of community resilience planning, but ensuring that policymakers understand and appreciate this is a constant challenge for the volunteering sector. The pandemic crisis situation has underlined the significance of thoroughly considering the physical, emotional, and social safety of volunteers and the beneficiaries of their actions, as well as the importance of funding and training for volunteer managers and mentors.

Online matching systems have grown in popularity as a result of social distance requirements, growing interest in volunteering, and a necessity for it as a support to those in need. BEV2030 emphasizes the importance of developing these systems with great care, ensuring that quality and safeguarding measures are at the forefront.

Volunteering has a significant impact on the lives of current and future generations. Volunteering is also a key driver of genuine social transformation. It supports social inclusion and solidarity; it underpins active citizenship, community resilience, and social involvement; and it promotes shared duties and European values. Volunteering actively prevents hate speech, promotes inclusion and tolerance, encourages an intergenerational approach, and allows citizens to be directly involved in developing the Europe they strive for. The task for post-pandemic Europe is to preserve and facilitate civic space in such a way that we can respect, value, and nourish this wonderful renewable energy without instrumentalizing or exploiting citizens.

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