September 2019

The month of September has meant big changes for me – as you know, I have stepped down from being CEO of Volunteering Matters. My successor started on 2 September. It has been a bit of an adjustment, but in a good way. Now I have much more time to spend on European and International themes and I hope, continuing to contribute to both Volonteurope and Volunteering Matters.

I joined the Steering Group of the European Lifelong Learning Platform (LLLP) having been elected at the annual conference in June. This really takes me back to my professional roots, since I started out in the mid-nineteen eighties as a secondary school teacher of Modern Languages. I have also since been teaching at University and have taken on some work at City University in London on a visiting lecturer basis. But this is not all about me!

The first LLLP steering group meeting was in Brussels on 8 and 9 June. I was mostly there on a listening and learning brief but I am keen to make the voice of Volonteurope and volunteering heard in the platform and to share with all of you what might be of interest in terms of our involvement. There is a document which is under consultation at the moment called ‘21st Century Learning Environments’. You can read it here and you can comment until 30 September.

We are already planning the next annual conference which will be in Croatia probably in June of next year. I’ll keep you posted about the themes and exact dates.

It is Lifelong Learning Week from 2 to 6 December – there will be lots of activities in Brussels and this year, I’d like to highlight the activities of our Volonteurope members. I’ll send you another reminder nearer the time, but it would be great if you could start thinking about any of your projects that really highlight learning and could be featured that week.

It happened that these few days in Brussels were when the new Commission President put forward her list of portfolios. If you have had time to have a look at these you will, I think, be considering, as we all did, that there are some strange decisions in the portfolios. Civil Society networks in Brussels reacted immediately and here is the European Civic Forum’s letter to MEPs etc.

As you know I am also on the Board of Solidar and although I represent Volunteering Matters, I always try to promote volunteering and what it can bring to solidarity and social inclusion. The Solidar Board also met that week and Solidar put out its own statement of reaction and what it expects from the new Commission.

We are preparing our own AGM and conference for the end of November. More news and ‘save the dates’ from Piotr very soon. It will be in the context of the final EU Aid Volunteers Programme since it will be subsumed into the European Solidarity Core. We hope to share experiences of international solidarity and look to the future.

Best wishes to all,

Oonagh

Volonteurope President