Young Volunteers Stand Up!

Article published on Aug. 23, 2011
Article published on Aug. 23, 2011
by Letizia Gambini, European Youth Forum Young volunteers all around Europe experience the power of volunteering every day. It is a simple recipe: get involved! Care! Ever been a volunteer? Yes?! Then you know what we mean! Spending your time doing something meaningful and making a difference. Volunteering and participating in youth organisations.
Young volunteers are at the heart of democracy, as dynamic actors for social inclusion, growth and active citizenship.

It is for these reasons that volunteering policy is a core issue for the almost 100 Youth Organisations members of the European Youth Forum. They are volunteer based, volunteer led and representing millions of young people engaged in voluntary activities every day. The II Youth Convention on Volunteering taking place from 7-11 September in Brussels is the perfect occasion to celebrate their engagement and showcase their activities.

Brussels becomes the European Capital of Volunteering

Over 800 young volunteers from all over Europe will transform Brussels in the European Capital of Volunteering. With them, we will join our efforts to reaffirm that everyone has the right to volunteer, because everybody has the right to be an active citizen! The menu is rich. A Stakeholders Conference gathering all political actors and more than 50 youth organisations from all over Europe, an open village with more than 70 organisations promoting 100+ workshops on and around volunteering (V-Village), a V-cinema showing films on volunteering and around, and a series of free concerts and events in the evenings (YO! Fest).

Volunteers are often described as being the 'glue' that holds society together. Even in Europe, where the volunteering landscape is as diverse as its citizens, the variety of forms of volunteering are to be viewed as a vital dimension of democratic and social life. 2011 is the European Year of Volunteering, but still today many (young) people that wants to volunteer are not able to and the ones who do volunteer face many different problems, ranging from limited access to opportunities to monetary issues to legal barriers, etc.

The European Youth Forum is convinced that 2011 must answer the needs of the millions of active citizens volunteering every day. During the Convention, young people will discuss with European decision-makers and civil society the development of a European Charter of the Rights of the Volunteer. The Charter aims at providing an harmonised framework defining key terms and a set of guaranteed rights and responsibilities of the volunteer. It should ensure equal opportunities for volunteers and their organisations throughout Europe, so that volunteering is truly accessible to all.

Look around you: there are millions of (young) volunteers out there, helping old people, driving ambulances, running activities for kids with disabilities, promoting campaigns for human rights... Every day, volunteers contribute greatly to Europe's social growth and dedicate their time to make our societies a better place to live in. Think it's only rethorics? Imagine a world without volunteers....

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