Oonagh with members of the steering committee of the European Civic Forum with Hermane Sanches Ruivo, Paris City Councillor with a European brief

 

October update from Oonagh Aitken

 

October has been a hugely busy month in terms of European networks and policy. I hope you will find our newsletter and regular updates helpful in terms of keeping you all up to date and giving you useful information.

As you know, I have recently joined the European Lifelong Learning Platform steering committee and I want to draw your attention to this year’s Lifelong Learning Week which will take place during the week beginning December 1. We need to hear about your activities during that week as well as everything that will take place in Brussels. Please get in touch with my colleague Laura Bell (lauraebell@outlook.com) so that she can publicise the activities of the members of our network around lifelong learning. For example, if some of your volunteering projects involve volunteers learning new skills, that would be a perfect project to showcase. If you are validating the skills and competences of volunteers of any age, but perhaps especially younger volunteers, again, a perfect example of learning through volunteering. If you have young volunteers who are using their volunteering as a pathway to employment by learning through volunteering, again, a brilliant example for LLL week. So please let us have your project details.You can find out more about this and The LLLP in our other newsletter story.

The European Commission (DG EAC) held a stakeholders’ meeting at the beginning of the month about the European Solidarity Corps. I’m sure you are all aware of the ESC and the changes that have been made. EU Aid Volunteers, in which some of you are involved, is changing and will become the humanitarian aid strand of this programme. Please do get in touch with me if you have any questions on oonagh@volonteurope.eu.

Our own + CARE EU Aid Volunteers technical assistance project met in Brussels to discuss progress and to have the opportunity for some training on safeguarding in the humanitarian aid field. The project is coming to an end in January but we have successfully helped a number of organisations move towards certification as sending organisations and created ‘focal points’ in different countries in order to disseminate information about the programme. We will have our final meeting in January in Bologna. Cara and I also travelled to Cluj, Romania to work with our partner organisation and member of Volonteurope Imago Mundi and provide information to a range of organisations on the European Solidarity Corps and the new humanitarian aid strand.

A quick update on European partnership programmes which involve some of our fellow members of Volonteurope. We had a very productive meeting in Rome for Job Bridge – our project which aims to validate and reward the competences and skills acquired by volunteers who wish to use volunteering specifically as a bridge or pathway to employment. We are almost at the closing stages of our Be Part, Feel Your Part project which provides a youth work curriculum to help young people develop their own social action projects aiming to approach political decision-makers and make some changes to something locally that affects them directly – it might be lighting in public spaces, transport links, activities etc. We continue to work on Wake Up, another project which will involve young volunteers and youth workers, but this time the curriculum and projects will be around European values and citizenship, democratic and active citizenship. We want to provide young people with the tools to be active citizens of their own local community and Europe. And finally in early November, we kick off our new project Silver Service, which will involve older volunteers in activities to better integrate migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in their local communities.

At the end of October, the steering committee of the European Civic Forum met and on the agenda was the action already taken around the hearings of the new Commissioners at the European Parliament, the programme for a conference in December to kick off Civic Pride (more on how you can be involved in this later), and a discussion on the new Rights, Values and Justice programme which will replace the Europe for Citizens programme in the new multi-annual financial framework. Since I was in Paris for this meeting, I also went along to the New Europeans debate about European democracy in light of Brexit. An interesting debate and view from France on what is happening in the UK. We also had the news live from Westminster as MPs were voting on the ‘deal’ and the extension. We then participated in a conference run by the City of Paris around their INCLUDE project which is about new initiatives for local and urban citizenship in Europe. INCLUDE is led by the City of Paris, Young Europeans – France and the European Civic Forum.