People claim that volunteering is a source of goodwill and that it is repaid with smiles more frequently than ever. If you choose to volunteer, it will shape your understanding of everything and everyone around you, and you will begin to make decisions based on solidarity, the common good, and civic responsibility. Actually, volunteering brings added value to any field in which it is applied, therefore making it an important factor in social transformation.
Volunteering is like a boat that you have to steer. While it offers the first form of independence in decisions and provides cohesion within a group, it also puts you in front of the management of material,human, and time resources required to keep it afloat and reach the shore. Volunteering and its positive effects began to be much more appreciated during the pandemic. EESA says that the reasons why young people want to volunteer for the common good are:
- Establishing a community, appealing to so-called symbols, common ideals, and specific behaviours;
- exercising the democratic process;
- learning how to be represented and to represent others;
- contributing considerably to peace and the quality of life;
- Increasing the significance of work (implemented projects, gained funds) for the economic, social, and cultural value of the community;
- Impacting mental health positively, and it should be even more embraced after the pandemic;
In other words, volunteering means magic; it transforms the way you create contexts and the way you relate to the world around you and its needs. It makes you more empathetic and much braver. In short, it opens new horizons for you through the activities and the people you meet.
In 2011, László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, and Inclusion, pointed out the importance of volunteering for the future of European development by stating the accessibility of being a volunteer because “everyone can volunteer”. He also mentions the benefits of this service for individuals, society, and especially the economy.
The attention given to volunteers and their work meets a Europe facing lots of challenges: economic insecurities, the ageing of the population, migration and depopulation, and a detachment of young people from civic and political engagement. Young people feel a sort of dissatisfaction concerning the traditional structures, and their participatory viewpoint has changed. Hustinx and Lammertyn say that “reflexive volunteering” shows that people are more likely to volunteer on their own and less likely to volunteer as a group (Hustinx and Lammertyn, 2003, p. 4). shows that no more than 23% of young people in Europe have done volunteer work. European infrastructure referring to volunteering is diverse, with different perspectives on approaching the subject and a contrasting evolution. Taking this into consideration, on the occasion of the European Year of Youth 2022, the European Commission makes more than 138 million euros available to them under the umbrella of the European Solidarity Corps programme.
Although there is not a generally accepted definition of volunteering across the EU, volunteering encompasses all expressions of “voluntary activity, formal or informal, undertaken by a person by their own choice and without concern for financial gain, and which contributes to the common good.” (Pater, Official Journal of the European Union, 2022). Moreover, Krzsysztof Pater, rapporteur for the EESA Volunteer – citizens building the future of Europe, put volunteering on a pedestal: “It is time to open our eyes and say that the future of Europe will not be built by decision-makers, politicians, or civil society organisations, but by active citizens and volunteers—by people who devote their free time to the benefit of society.”