Last week, Volonteurope welcomed guests from across Europe to its Rural Isolation of Citizens in Europe conference, organised in partnership with Dutch members Humanitas and LVKK, and held in Amsterdam. This was the concluding event of a two-year campaign exploring the challenges facing rural communities in Europe, and advocating for stronger political and financial support for voluntary sector organisations engaged in rural development initiatives.

Over two days of events, Volonteurope presented the final report and recommendations, bringing together key findings from the campaign. Researchers, decision-makers and civil society actors from across Europe then gave their reactions to the report, engaging participants in a lively debate on how best to approach this multidimensional issue.

The contributions of Lambert Van Nistelrooij (MEP) and Pavel Trantina (European Economic and Social Committee) gave the Thursday event a European policy focus, whilst Prof Dr Gert Jan Hospers’ thought-provoking lecture on the urban-rural connection encouraged participants to see parallels between small villages and larger cities.

The Friday event saw a shift in focus, with speakers from Humanitas, LVKK, The Polish Rural Development Foundation, EstYes and Macmillan Cancer Support highlighting the important role that civil society can play in targeting rural isolation. Speakers’ presentations were followed by roundtable discussions which gave participants the opportunity to join the debate. These were a great success, and the animated discussions continued over lunch.

Using the ideas and suggestions collected over the course of the conference, Volonteurope will update the final report and recommendations. This will be launched online on 31 March 2016.

Photos from the event can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/128925252@N08/albums/72157664538880464/with/26271414965/

For social media coverage of the event, check out our Storify story: