[:en]February 2020 already!  It seems no time at all since the Volonteurope conference in Brussels in November.

January was a busy month and I want to update you on the activities in which I have been participating as Volonteurope President.

Following the positive responses from members to Roger Casale at our conference, where he suggested the creation of a ‘fringe’ festival to run alongside the Future of Europe Conference, I’m delighted to announce that Volonteurope is now on the #Europefuturefringe working group.

We’d love organisations to join us and use this initiative as a way of promoting their fantastic work across Europe (not just in those countries in the EU), find out more here.

We had the final meeting of our + CARE project which involved working largely on volunteer management issues for the EU Aid Volunteers initiative now to be incorporated into the European Solidarity Corps.  Although this is strictly speaking a Volunteering Matters project, it was brilliant to have another Volonteurope member Imago Mundi closely involved in the project.  We met in Bologna to sign off the end of the project but not, I hope the collaboration between the organisations that participated.

The Lifelong Learning Platform steering group met virtually in a conference call largely to plan our next face to face meeting which will be in Lisbon at the end of this month.  This year marks the 15th year of the platform and we are planning a series of celebrations.  I’m also very pleased to be able to announce that Brikena Xhomaqi, Director of the Lifelong Learning Platform has been elected as the interim chair of the European Economic and Social Committee’s Liaison Group for Civil Society.

I am not always able to go to meetings of the Liaison Group but we are involved in planning this year’s civil society days which will be held  in April. Volonteurope will be co-organising a workshop with the European Youth Forum and we want to showcase how young people can be involved and be change makers. So far, we hope that our members Gemeinsam Leben und Lernen in Europa from Germany will be taking part and our Erasmus + partners Jugend am Werk from Graz.

As you know Piotr, our Secretary General, is proving to be a very successful President of the Social Platform and he recently attended two events where he was in the company of members of the European Commission.  I attended the Social Platform’s event in the European Parliament about the new proposals for the European Social Funds +.  This is the new programme which will bring together a range of funding streams and will encompass not just job creation and skills development but also specific thematic areas which will tackle integration of migrants and asylum seekers, the child guarantee, tackling child poverty and support for health and social services. In short, everything that is part of the implementation of the pillar of social rights.

On the platform at the EP, along with Piotr were, Commissioner Nicolas Schmit (Jobs and Social Rights), representatives from the German, Italian and French permanent representations to the EU, Brando Benefei, MEP and Heather Roy, also from the SP Management Committee.  A lively discussion from the panel and with the audience ensued, and calls were made for greater involvement of civil society organisations, a more central role for local and regional government, policy coherence, targeting resources where most needed, and a people-centred approach to the themes and funding opportunities.  It was an optimistic discussion and one that made the events of the end of January all the more disappointing for communities across the UK which, of course, will have no recourse to the European Social Fund.

If you want to read more about the ESF+ programme please visit here.[:]