International Volunteer Day, 5 December, will be commemorated with series of manifestations to draw attention to the importance of these activities and their value. The expressions ‘volunteer’, ‘voluntary work’ and ‘voluntarism’ often have negative connotation in our society. The context in which voluntarism finds itself is often negative, accompanied by prejudice and stereotypes that degrade its importance and value. This is the reason why promotion of the values of voluntary work is one of the tasks of the local voluntary service.
The Novi Sad Voluntary Service (NVS) is a platform for organising voluntary work in Novi Sad. It has been created as an initiative of the European Youth Capital 2019 and European Capital of Culture 2021, and the motive for creating the service is the need to have a volunteer staff during the implementation of the activities of the capitals.
However, since the voluntary service offers much more that simple engagement of human voluntary resources, it is expected to create a stable local voluntary service after the title years are over.
Therefore, the goal behind the establishment of the Novi Sad Voluntary Service is to develop unique local centre for voluntary work.
The great challenge to the establishment of the voluntary work at the local level is rigidity of institutions/organisations/associations, i.e. Lack of their openness towards voluntary work. The local voluntary service, through its promotional programme, should stress the benefits of voluntary work, directing local partners towards education and training of skills in the field of voluntary management.
One of the first steps towards achieving systemically organised model of the Novi Sad Voluntary Service has recently been made by organising five round tables in Novi Sad to present the model of the service and to collect suggestions by volunteers and organisers of voluntary work – institutions, associations and organisations that are active in different segments of society.
‘The idea was to hear what organisers of voluntary work, as well as volunteers, think about the voluntary service, what are their experiences, what would they like to add, and what to exclude. The special focus was on setting the standards for high-quality work of the LVS (Local Voluntary Service). We wanted to make the idea more concrete by limiting the areas of voluntary work to five sectors: young people, culture, healthcare, sports and environmental protection’, said Vojislav Prkosovački, coordinator of the Novi Sad Voluntary Service.
Following the five round tables with over 100 participants and over 50 organisations and institutions that participated in the analysis of the model for this service in Novi Sad, the idea is to show these results at the Conference that will be organised on 8 December.
The conference will present the conclusions of the round tables, guidebook on voluntary management that should be a product of this project, as well as partners from the OPENS and ‘Novi Sad 2021’ Foundation, local voluntary services and offices for young people from Serbia, and representatives from other European Capitals, who will speak about their experiences.