Active Citizens for the Common Good
Volonteurope’s mission is to champion active citizenship as a pathway to social justice in Europe and beyond. Its focus on active citizenship comes from the belief that individuals live happier lives and experience higher levels of wellbeing when they are active members of their communities and wider society. The aim of this work strand is to show the direct links between active citizenship and the common good.
What is active citizenship?
For Volonteurope, an active citizen is someone who: participates in civil society and political life, who takes a role in the community, seeks information and is moved by the aim of common good and the respect of human rights.
Volonteurope considers active citizenship as the expression of our sociability: one of the basic characteristics that define us as humans.
Active citizenship can be exercised in numerous ways, some of which are: being a good neighbour, caring for an ill or disabled person, volunteering in the community or in another country, supporting a child in need, voting in elections, petitioning government and holding elected officials to account, participating in marches or vigils, protecting the environment and safeguarding natural resources for future generations, participating in local activities, shaping public services, promoting and protecting human rights, supporting international development initiatives etc.
Although being a central issue there is no real agreement on what it means to be an active citizen. This prevents us from identifying the barriers to, and enablers of active citizenship. In order to better understand and answer this question, Volonteurope teamed up with European Civic Forum to identify the barriers to and enablers of active citizenship.
The first step of the work was to create an international working group of experts and practitioners across Europe to answer these questions with an international approach. The first major task of the project was the launch of a survey by Volonteurope and the European Civic Forum, which was translated into ten different European languages. This survey invited participants to give their definitions of active citizenship, and helped Volonteurope and European Civic Forum begin to understand the barriers and enablers involved. The survey, as well as helping identify a bottom up definition of active citizenship, eventually set the basis for the Active Citizenship Footprint.
As the name suggests, the Footprint is based on a scoring system. This allowed us to quantitatively measure levels of active citizenship according to the perceptions of individual respondents and their location. By answering a series of questions, respondents arrived at a final score that places them within an ‘active citizenship scale.’ The purpose of the Active Citizenship Footprint is not to tell people that they are not good citizens. Rather, the point is to illustrate the barriers we all face to being active citizens, as well as the factors that support us.
Languages translated into
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