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Interregional Workshop and Political Briefing in East Riding of Yorkshire

Political Briefing - Understanding the economic & social context of volunteering and its importance in the current climate (copy 1)


Thursday 22 November at 1pm (GMT)

The Political Briefing was  broadcast live over the Internet in order to enable as many interested parties as possible across Europe to watch the Key Speakers.


Key note speakers

  •  Robert Beard – National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA).
    “Priceless but not free: the case for voluntary sector infrastructure”
  • Nick Stanhope – “We Are What We Do”:
    “Rethinking Volunteering”
  • Daniela Bosioc – European Centre for Volunteering, Brussels
    European Volunteer Measurement Project (EVMP).

Read more about the speakers and the organisations here

Robert Beard – National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA).

“Priceless but not free: the case for voluntary sector infrastructure”

Volunteers are integral to the delivery of local services, especially to vulnerable and marginalised people, but many volunteers depend in turn on local support and development organisations with the professional skills to provide placement, training, mentoring and evaluation. Robert will look at the role of NAVCA members, their governance and quality assurance, drawing on his recent work with the police service’s Citizen Engagement programme.

Nick Stanhope – “We Are What We Do”

 "Rethinking Volunteering”

Volunteering can have important benefits for skills, experience, qualifications and social confidence and networks - all of which contribute to an individual's employability and opportunities to get a new job

The work of VERSO and their partners to evaluate and illustrate these benefits is vital - it quantifies the impact, it justifies and attracts investment and, in times of high unemployment, it provides a compelling political argument for using volunteering as part of the solution

But - when it comes to designing and marketing volunteering programmes and activities that deliver these benefits, all of this should be disregarded - in fact, even the word volunteering should be forgotten

All of the benefits of volunteering described above flow incidentally from activities that have substantial, genuine social value - not just because they are labelled "the right thing to do" from a social or personal point of view

If someone is doing something with a clear and valuable social purpose then all of the individual and employment related outcomes will flow naturally from that - and can be fostered, channeled and sustained as part of good volunteer management and support.

However, if someone is doing something that is clearly contrived, with benefits that are extrinsic to the activity itself, then the benefits will flow sporadically - and will probably remain as artificial symbols (certificates, bullet points on a CV, training courses completed etc) rather than genuine attributes (reusable skills, relevant experience, self-esteem boost, meaningful connections etc) 

As a result of too much focus on the general, overarching benefits of formal volunteering, we haven't designed enough activities with specific, genuine value - and now is the time to switch that focus

Everything that is discussed and developed at conferences like these should be used to boost the important volunteering during these difficult times, but they should never appear at the top of briefs 

Instead we should recognise that these intended consequences flow incidentally from activities with intrinsic social value and therefore focus on how we put more and more of these activities into the world

Daniela Bosioc – European Centre for Volunteering, Brussels

European Volunteer Measurement Project (EVMP).

Daniela will be focusing on the need to gather basic information on the amount, character, and role of volunteering in Europe, and the possibility for the gathering of this data through the implementation of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work, which is the essence of the European Volunteer Measurement Project (EVMP). This work was done in conjunction with John Hopkins University.

She aims to

  • address challenges facing the development of a common approach for measuring volunteer work in Europe,
  • outline the approach for measuring volunteer work taken by the ILO Manual,
  • present the EVMP partnership work model, to promote the adoption of the ILO Manual in Europe,
  • give an update on the state of play in some of the European countries
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Revised 2013.04.10