By Secretary General Piotr Sadowski

Despite the clouds of uncertainty and tragic results of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the face of social and economic lockdowns, we are witnessing amazing acts of bravery, human kindness and compassion, which express solidarity with fellow human beings. I am so humbled to hear the positive stories of how volunteers, supported by our member organisations, are working hard to reduce social isolation and loneliness of the most hard-hit, vulnerable community members, whilst keeping safe and following government and health advice. You can read about these stories in our latest newsletter. Next month, we will ensure to share even more such stories!

However, people in vulnerable situations, organisations, charities, NGOs, small businesses, will all need the support of governments and decision-makers at all levels. As President of Social Platform, together with the Platform’s Director, Kélig Puyet, we issued a statement that will form the basis of work on addressing the fall-out from the crisis, going forward. I hope that you as member of Volonteurope can also contribute to this important advocacy work. You may also be interested to read the message from the European Economic and Social Committee on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for unprecedented solidarity amongst EU’s Member States. As the EESC states, “this outbreak is a test of solidarity – political, financial, social and scientific – for the whole European Union. We need to come together to fight a common and existential threat that does not respect borders, ensure that we have the resources necessary to bring this outbreak to an end and to find shared answers to shared problems together.” I could not agree more!

In our newsletter, I am also delighted that we are able to share stories from our friends and partners in South Korea – I really encourage you to read the piece by Sun Young Park, Assistant Professor at Korea National Sports University in Seoul. Many of you met her at our Annual Conference last year in Brussels. In addition, please read up the piece by Juan Ángel Poyatos, Founder and Director of Voluntare. The network, which promotes corporate volunteering and partnerships between the corporate and not-for-profit sectors, and Volonteurope, are now formalising their mutual membership and will be working together on a number of activity-based and advocacy projects.

I hope you enjoy the newsletter and look forward to seeing as many of our members and associates, as possible, virtually, at our AGM on 6 May 2020. We’re also looking forward to running a virtual debate on “what happens when we are out of it” to ensure the voluntary & CSO sector remains recognised & supported in efforts to rebuild the socio-economic wellbeing of communities across Europe, all part of #EuropeFutureFringe discussions.

In the meantime, I wish you all good health, stay well and keep safe, and continue promoting solidarity in Europe and beyond.