The third of four international events to strengthen solidarity values and volunteerism in Europe was held in Thessaloniki between 19 and 21 June 2023, with a presentation of good practices implemented in the municipality of Thessaloniki and Pylaia-Hortiati, a consultation with non-governmental organizations on the topic of the development of volunteering and the exhibition Volunteering in the time of Covid-19.
Partners from Slovenia, Portugal and Hungary visited organizations from Thessaloniki and talk with rrepresentatives of other areas and learned about their good practices. We spoke with representatives of the Thessaloniki’s Youth Municipal Council and Katerini’s Youth Activation Network. Also we visited the European information centre of Thessaloniki (Europe Direct), the Deputy Mayor of Pylaia’s Municipality and the street magazine “Shedia” and talked with them about their work and the volunteer programs they run and how the epidemic affected their work and how they adapted to it so that they will continue to support and develop volunteerism. None of the organisations stopped their volunteer programmes and actions during Covid-19.
We also opened the third of six photo exhibitions Volunteering in the Time of Covid-19, with which we want to shed light on the work and achievements of volunteers from various European countries, who selflessly contributed to limiting the epidemic and mitigating the consequences it had on everyday life.
Thessaloniki City Youth Council : We had the honour to listen to the Vice President talk about the volunteer activities that are taking place in 7 different themes. The speaker underlined the value of volunteering and its importance for the community. The challenges faced by volunteers were an important part of the presentation. The speaker presented the challenges that volunteers face when carrying out their activities, including financial and housing issues. He also mentioned the challenge that arose during the quarantine period, where the need for volunteer action was met solely through the internet. Finally, the speaker stressed the importance of the contribution of volunteers to the community. Through volunteering in various sectors, volunteers contribute to improving the quality of life for people in crisis and in need.
The President of the Youth Activation Network of Katerini told us about the volunteer activities they carry out in their region. The presence of the President of this network was very inspiring and gave us an insight into the dedication and value of volunteering in times of crisis.
We visited the “Europe Direct” European Information Centre, where we were introduced to the institutions of the European Union and the opportunities available to young people. This visit provided us with important input on how the European Union supports and promotes the participation of young people in volunteering actions and initiatives.
Afterwards, we met the Deputy Mayor of the Municipality of Pylaia-Hortiatis, who told us about the voluntary action they manage called “End the Silence”. This action focuses on supporting and helping women suffering from abuse. The Deputy Mayor shared with us the story and the work behind this initiative, highlighting the importance of raising awareness and helping these women.
For more information about the ERAS project, visit www.facebook.com/EuropeanAllianceForVolunteerSupport.
Project European Alliance for Volunteer Support – learnings from Covid-19 crisis (ERAS II) is co-financed by European Union, programme CERV, strand Network of Towns.