Protocol on cooperation within the project Novi Sad Volunteer Service signed
Cooperation agreement was signed between the ‘Novi Sad 2021 – European Capital of Culture’ and ‘OPENS’ European Youth Capital during the conference held in the Congress Hall of the City Hall in Novi Sad, on 14 September.
Novi Sad has had numerous volunteer actions and projects. However, volunteer service for citizens has not been systematically developed yet. This was the reason why ‘Novi Sad 2021’ and ‘OPENS’ jointly initiated development of a volunteer platform that will be the basis for development of Novi Sad Volunteer Service, which will adjust to the needs of organisations and institutions, as well as to demands of volunteer services of the citizens of Novi Sad.
The first step was already made – ‘Čepom do osmeha’ association will implement the Mosaic for Guinness project at the Liberty Square on 29 and 30 September, with the help of ‘Novi Sad 2021’ Foundation and ‘OPENS’. All interested citizens and volunteers will join in making the mosaic, which will launch the volunteer service that will remain as a legacy of the European Capitals to Novi Sad for future projects. The conference presented the idea and goal of the project, as well as the manner in which citizens can join the process and follow the event at Liberty Square.
– Support for the ‘Čepom do osmeha’ initiative is an example that when you start something enthusiastically and you develop it systematically with long-term plans, it can develop much wider scope. Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that we selected this humanitarian initiative to include into the Novi Sad Volunteer Service, since they are already known as fantastic volunteers – said Nemanja Milenković, CEO of the ‘Novi Sad 2021 – European Capital of Culture’ Foundation at the conference.
Vukašin Grozdanović, ‘OPENS 2019’ coordinator, stressed that this is a chance to create a good platform that can become part of the city’s mechanisms, and that will rely on good will of the citizens of Novi Sad:
– For us, it is crucial that volunteer experience is recognised in the employment process, and we hope that this will be one of the pillars of the Novi Sad Volunteer Service.
Benefits of volunteer work cannot be disputed. Volunteers around the world are recognised as the most important resource for implementation of social changes. The citizens take volunteering seriously. In Europe, more than 100 million people volunteer, of which 18% of all citizens of Poland, and more than 33% of citizens in Ireland and Germany. In the United Kingdom, where around 38% of the population volunteers, the annual GDP from volunteer work reaches 7.9% (one pound invested in volunteer work returns three times to the state).
In the implementation of European capitals, volunteers have a crucial role, and statistics show that they greatly contribute to promotion and inclusion of citizens in implementation of programmes of both European Capital of Culture and European Youth Capital. For example, Liverpool in 2008, during implementation of the European Capital of Culture project, hired 10,000 volunteers.
The systematic approach to development of volunteer service demanded engagements of experts with significant experience in this field. From September to December 2017 they will propose a model for this platform, and then have 5 consultative meetings / round tables with various organisations, institutions, and individuals that actively implement volunteer projects and actions in the city. After the consultative process, symbolically on 5 December – International Volunteer Day, we will organise a conference where we will present the model of the platform and examples of good practice from Serbia and abroad.
The first call for volunteers will be launched early next year.