Cooperation between European Capital of Culture and European Youth Capital in Novi Sad is becoming closer every day. In addition to the planned strategy on joint actions that is being drafted, the project that has recently been initiated is the Novi Sad Voluntary Service.
The implementation of the project in cooperation of the two organisation is unusual in many ways, says Vojislav Prkosovački, coordinator of the project: ‘I really believe that it’s about the change; about changing the view and understanding of things and relations, about creating new values. Both capitals offer possibilities for a systemic approach and for affecting positive changes at the local level, micro community and indirectly at the entire society.’
With Mr Prkosovački, we discussed how unusual is to work in this way. ‘The partnership between the two capitals in implementation of a project is unique in Europe, therefore the implementation of the ‘Novi Sad Voluntary Service’ project is special and thus a great professional challenge. Such partnership has introduced an alternative in efforts to change the view on voluntary work, because it raised voluntary work to a level of inter-sectoral and inter-institutional cooperation’, says Mr Prkosovački. He added that this partnership combines the best from human and technical capacities in the form of skills, knowledge and ideas, and touches upon common problems that are outside the perspective of one organisation. Therefore, the partnership creates trust and joint responsibility both in failure and success. Mr Prkosovački states that ‘a big volunteer heart in Novi Sad is a precondition for more serious and systemic work with volunteers, especially in the form of a voluntary service. Since the first condition is met, upgrade must be directed towards organisations and institutions – to create a model for inter-sectoral cooperation at the local level that will support this service in long-term.’
The coordinator of the NVS explains the structure of the service, whose role is based on communicating information, building capacities, and offering necessary resources for development of voluntary work at the local level: ‘Novi Sad Voluntary Service enables implementation of high quality and organised work with volunteers, and its implementation creates positive changes at a micro level. On one hand, the service takes care of volunteers’ interests, and on the other hand the needs of organisations and public institutions. By establishing this system, the affect and contribution of voluntary work in solving problems in local community and in increasing the quality of life is increased.’
The voluntary service is a model for voluntary work which is not new, but it is insufficiently applied in our country. Together with other models of voluntary work, such as international and local voluntary camps, long-term and short-term voluntary work within various European programmes, it is one of the basic models for voluntary work. The coordinator of the project states that ‘we can talk about voluntary work through strategic perspective, through national or regional and local policies; we can view and analyse voluntary work through laws and their implementation and other rational and formal ways. None of these points of view will show us the brightest and clearest picture on voluntary work until we try it – only then can we be sure that we are volunteers and that we carry inside that germ that will always remain there. By 2022, and after that, I expect everyone to find that germ, to feel its value and share it with others.’