As we move towards the strangest holiday season ever, a few messages from me and the Volonteurope team.

We all seem to be in different lockdown situations across Europe; some are more stringent than others but with a bit of common sense and adherence to whatever the rules are in your part of the world, let’s try to enjoy the holidays.

At Volonteurope, things have been moving on apace.  While our funding situation is still precarious, we are putting in place all the administration necessary to put us in a good place in 2021.

As you may know, we moved office and we are really grateful to Brikena Xhomaqi, Director of the Lifelong Learning Platform, and her team, for welcoming us to their offices.  They are situated in a building called Mundo-j, on rue de l’industrie, in the heart of the European quarter in Brussels.  We really do hope that in 2021, we can have a member of staff occupy a desk in the office. But it will be fantastic, when we can travel and meet again, to have a welcoming home in Brussels.

At the recent Extraordinary General Assembly, we welcomed Lenka Vonka Černá as a new member of our Board.  Lenka is a key and well-known figure in the voluntary sector in the Czech Republic and we are delighted that she has joined us.  At the same EGA, we adopted our strategy for 2021 – 23.  Of course, the main pillar of the strategy is achieving funding but we have lots of other objectives in mind.  We want to take a look at both membership development and membership fees.  We want to provide more online services and information for members.  If you haven’t already, you can read the document HERE

One of our key objectives was to refresh our communications and the website.  We are already a long way to doing that with our new website launched and our communications being expertly handled by Laura Bell.  Thanks also to Adeline Preda who developed the new website.  We hope you like it and will take time to explore.

We also welcomed new members to the network and as Volonteurope, we joined the European Civic Forum, giving us even more visibility at the heart of European Civil Society.

On the funding front, we have a number of applications in train generally as partners with other organisations and of course we will be keeping our eyes out for any further opportunities in 2021.

I am also delighted to let you know that we have a part-time intern Furkan Sorkuncuk.  Furkan is a Turkish national, based for the moment in Belgium, where he is studying law.  Furkan is doing a great job for us and was a great help in preparing for the EGA. He has also taken a great lead on behalf of Volonteurope to work together with the European Youth Forum on our joint youth-focused workshop, which will take place on 3 March 2021, virtually, in the framework of the postponed but much awaited, Civil Society Days 2021. These are the highlight of the civil society activities’ calendar within the European Economic and Social Committee and the Civil Society Liaison Group, where we are members. Our workshop, entitled “Youth activism and inclusion to achieve systemic change and recovery in Europe”, will focus on major themes around the reconstruction of our societies in the wake of the crisis. It is fantastic to have that additional capacity in the secretariat and in the next newsletter, Furkan will be able to tell you all about this exciting workshop and Civil Society Days 2021.

Lastly, as many of you will know, the European Commission recently published proposals for the European Education Area (EEA), the Digital Plan and the European Research Area. I had the privilege to speak about these plans during the Lifelong Learning Platform’s Lifelong Learning Week at the start of December. You can read more about my thoughts and the policy documents HERE.

So my end of 2020 thanks go of course to Piotr, who has done such a brilliant job in keeping the network functioning and then relaunching. Our thanks also to all of the new Board and of course to all of you who continue to be active in and support Volonteurope.

On to greater things in 2021, I am confident of that.

So happy holidays to all of you and I look forward to working with you in 2021.

Oonagh

Volonteurope President