ALDA’s International Conference on “Volunteering for Democracy”

Jul 08, 2011

Good governance

Volunteering is a fundamental instrument for the growth of democracy. Europe believes in its strengthening and intends, with the European Year of Volunteering, to promote the involvement and the participation of European citizens.
At the moment one hundred million of European people are active in a voluntary service and the main objective of the year is to develop this part of active citizens. In order to raise the goals the activity of all the European countries all involved and active to support the volunteering. Is very important.
This is what has come out during the international conference on “Volunteering for Democracy”, organised as part of the European Year of Volunteering 2011, jointly by ALDA and the Bydgoszcz City Hall, that was held in Bydgoszcz, Poland (8th of July).
The event, which main aim was the promotion of voluntary services and civil participation, represented the launching event of the first Polish Presidency of the European Union for Kujavy and Pomerania Region.
It was attended by 150 representatives from civil society groups and local governments from all over Europe.
Keith Whitmore, President of the Congress of the Council of Europe, participated and opened the Conference with a speech.
“What we need today – stated Mr Whitmore – is the practical partnership between local and regional authorities and the volunteer sector, and a practical framework for their cooperation. The authorities at the grassroots should support voluntary organisations, help with the training of volunteers and provide guidance in voluntary project management. They should themselves set a good example by actively participating in voluntary projects. A particular attention should be paid to involving young people and youth organisations, including setting up youth councils or assemblies at local and regional levels. Our objective should be to bring together local and regional authorities and civil society to spread expertise and good practices, raise awareness and encourage exchanges of experience – in other words, to build partnerships for the benefit of our citizens and the improvement of local democracy and self-governance”.
John Macdonald, Representative of the European Commission, Head of Task Force European Year of Volunteering, addressed the audience through a video message underlining the role of volunteering for the growth of citizen participation and democracy.
“The event of such kind – stated the Mayor of Bydgoszcz, Mr. RafałBruski– is exactly what we need locally and regionally. A phenomenon of participation is what local community sees as democracy. The visible need to promote formal and non-formal levels of these activities is both: a task for and ambition of local authorities of Bydgoszcz. I am sure this experience has shown a path and clear direction for public institutions and non-governmental organisations”.
ALDA President, Mr. Per Vinther, underlined that wherever people help and support those in need, society gains in cohesion and democracy. This is why ALDA and its members work to promote the active citizenship and the civil participation both in Member States and neighbouring countries.
The conference included formal and non-formal participation; representatives of several European Ngo’s and Institutions illustrated the experiences of their organisations and countries in the field of voluntarism.
The conference was part of a three-year VIT project (Very Important Twinning) – “Europe for Citizens” programme. The project envisages 20 international events.