[:en]Dear Colleagues

Changes are afoot!

I wanted to drop you a personal note to tell you about some changes at Volunteering Matters. Some of you may know that I am stepping down from my post as Chief Executive of the organisation. It is envisaged that my successor will be appointed on 9 May 2019 and all things being equal, I will step down as CEO at the end of June.

However, I am going to continue to work for the organisation, assisting Piotr with the European and International activities and continuing to be involved in other European networks. With the formal employment link to Volunteering Matters, I hope you agree that compliance with the Volonteurope Statutes is satisfied and I have your approval to carry on in the medium term as President of Volonteurope.

As I hope you know, I am fully committed to Volonteurope and despite the fact that we are no longer in receipt of an operating grant under the ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme, we have managed to keep the network alive. After June 2019, I should have more time to devote to Volonteurope and work with Piotr and you as members, associates and partners, to strengthen the network’s capacity.

Piotr and I set out below how we see the network developing over the short/medium term. One of the things I am committed to doing is to keep you up-to-date with other networks and organisations in which we participate. I hope you were able to read my last blog on the General Assembly of Social Platform, which took place on 4 April 2019 in Brussels, especially the meeting with the representatives of the Finnish Permanent Representation to the EU, who are developing the Finnish EU Presidency themes for the second half of 2019. I also hope that you have heard the fantastic news that Piotr was elected as President of Social Platform for a two-year mandate, 2019-2021. As President, Piotr will need to take a neutral position within Social Platform and to this effect, I, together with Laura de Bonfils’ support, will be able to continue advocating for active citizenship, volunteering and social justice, Volonteurope’s strategic pillars of work, on behalf of our members, associates and partners.

  • Board Meeting: we will liaise with the Board Members to organise an online meeting at the end of May 2019; and another online meeting in September 2019
  • Annual Conference: we will look to hold it in Brussels in November 2019, in conjunction with a major EU Aid Volunteers event
  • Staffing: with the support of the Director of the Lifelong Learning Platform, Piotr will be looking to recruit an administration and communications officer for our office in Brussels, through a specific Belgian employment programme funded by the European Commission
  • Linked to the above point, we are awaiting the results of a few funding bids for both the Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 programmes; if successful, they will give us again the capacity to expand our staff base, either here in London or in Brussels

Both Piotr and I are fully aware that since the Annual Conference in Gdańsk in December 2018, we have not been able to engage in a lot of communication activities with you as members and partners. Our regular newsletter has been put on hold during this period but, as soon as we are able to re-establish our staffing capacity, we aim to reengage in high quality communication and social media presence which you have come to expect of Volonteurope.

With the upcoming European Parliament elections on 23-26 May 2019, we would also like to draw your attention and introduce you to a new initiative, set up to facilitate the coordination and collaboration among civil society, thourhg Alliance 4 Europe. It is a newly-founded organisation, which Piotr has recently met in Texel in the Netherlands, during the Democracy Alive Festival, which sets out to be a service-provided and capacity-building platform for pro-European campaigns and civil society. Particularly in the context of the EP elections, they are aiming to facilitate the coordination and provide access to campaign tools, materials and information among pro-European campaigns and civil society groups, in order to increase democratic, pro-European voter turnout.

Alliance 4 Europe has set up a tool and content-sharing platform for civil society partners to use, called the EU Wiki. The platform enables partners to access campaing tools, content and material uploaded by like-minded partners, and to upload material they would like to share. For more information and to request to join the Wiki, please get in touch with our colleagues in Alliance 4 Europe on wiki@alliance4europe.eu, with a brief outline of your activites and your plans ahead of the EP elections in May 2019.

We would like to thank you for your continued support and confidence in Volonteurope, despite the recently more-challenging time for us. What brings us together is the belief in the power of solidarity, civic activism and putting people at the heart of campaigns, civic interventions and decision-making. We are united by the need to work together towards ensuirng the Europe, despite multiple and overlapping challenges, is orientated towards being more social, fairer and inclusive, and is not limited by its geographical borders.

We need to ensure that European values of solidarity, non-discrimination, social cohesion and human rights prevail and overcome the language and visible actions of exclusion, intolerance, racism and contempt, which threaten the social fabric of Europe. We can only achieve this together.

Thank you for your attention.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

With best wishes,

Oonagh Aitken, President

Piotr Sadowski, Secretary General

Volonteurope Secretariat
London Office: 18-24 Lower Clapton Road, London E5 0PD, United Kingdom
Brussels Office: 4-6 rue de Pascale, B-1040 Brussels, Belgium[:]