Arbeitsgemeinschaft des Bürgerschaftlichen Engagements (ARBES) e.V.
Tel: +49 785 25358
The Land (state) of Baden-Württemberg, with its capital in Stuttgart, has ten million inhabitants. It is one of the sixteen Länder of the Federal Republic of Germany, and its inhabitants are extensively engaged in voluntary work (about 40% of the population).
The European contact organisation to CEV is the Landesarbeitsgemeinschaft Bürgerschaftliches Engagement und Seniorengenossenschaften (the state working group for civic engagement and senior citizens’ co-operatives: ARBES for short). It has been a member of CEV since 1997. It is represented at board meetings and has organised various seminars on volunteering within the state.
ARBES is part of the Land network in which welfare organisations, towns and cities, municipalities, communities and rural districts are important partners in voluntary work. The Land networks (cities/towns/rural districts) maintain about forty local centres, some of which are run voluntarily. This combination of local promotion, networking at the state level, initiatives, associations and municipal administrations is unique in Germany.
Voluntary work in Baden-Württemberg
Besides traditional voluntary engagement, such as in sport, the church, the environment and in the five big welfare organisations of the social sector, two essential developments took place during the nineties in Germany:
*Direct, local initiatives of certain target groups in cross-sectoral issues relating to the quality of life
*Forms of citizen participation and projects through initiatives of associations and municipal administrations
*Out of the senior citizens’ co-operative initiatives and citizens’ centres created through local initiatives and supported by the government, ARBES was founded in 1994. It is an umbrella organisation, which as of December 30th 2000 comprised of over sixty member initiatives. About half of these represent this “new civic engagement” at their locations.
The more than sixty ARBES initiatives have about 9000 members, of whom about half are actively engaged – two thirds of them women. These initiatives typically provide a broad range of services (from chauffeuring services through to child-minding, counselling of marginalised groups and home care). Half work closely with their local administration, one third work for time credit coupons as well as for money, half are in a computer network and almost all benefit from central mentoring and training courses. ARBES has a council of spokespersons out of which an honorary chairperson is elected. ARBES is funded out of members’ fees, local support and limited project financing by the Land network, including further training.
Baden-Württemberg’s network concept is a concept relating to voluntary work which:
*requires a contact office with a clear professional interface to the local administration
provides a model which gives priority to participation of all groups and thinks from the individual’s (the volunteer’s) point of view
*has procedures (practices), which stimulate projects, create connections, promote further training roles between the fields of activity and group activities (mentors, multipliers)
promotes co-operation between towns and rural districts for the interchange of experiences and to include various departments in “civic awareness”
*makes possible a co-operation between initiatives and associations in order to improve methodology standards (especially the quality of teaching concepts) and contributes to the appreciation of the different forms of engagement – the traditional and the new
*is committed to the promotion of developments, is aware of deadlines and ojectives, urges mixed forms of action involving the state, the business community and citizens, supports invisible networking costs, and influences vocational training in favour of civic engagement
*supports a citizenship which co-operates in self-administration locally and regionally, and does not leave this only to associations and professionals