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 a person who is concerned about others’ wellbeing and thus connects with them freely in a way that leads to mutual support and caring.
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: 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. Volonteurope has teamed up with the European Civic Forum to answer this question and to identify the barriers to and enablers of active citizenship.
The first step of the work is to create an international working group of experts and practitioners across Europe to answer these questions with an international approach. Volonteurope and the European Civic Forum will firstly launch a survey in different languages to harvest from European citizens the definition of active citizenship.The survey, as well as helping us identify a bottom up definition of active citizenship, will set the bases for an Active Citizenship Score Card that will identify barriers to and enablers of active citizenship.
As the name suggests, the scorecard will be based on a scoring system. This will allow us to quantitatively measure levels of active citizenship according to the perceptions of individual respondents. By answering a series of questions, respondents will arrive at a final score that will place them within an ‘active citizenship scale.’ The purpose of the scorecard is not to tell people or organisations 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. This information will allow us to propose practical recommendations (short-term) and systemic changes (long-term) to governments, civil society, businesses and the EU.
Languages translated into
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