European Volunteering Capital 2016-17 Competition
Strengthening, Inspiring & Celebrating Volunteering and Solidarity in Europe since 2013
Candidates' Feedback from the Jury
Belfast provides a range of operating and project funding and exempts VIOs from local property taxes for buildings they use or own. The city has a volunteering charter providing practical operational advice to VIOs about making volunteering accessible, inclusive and of good quality. VIOs have access to help with funding to cover the cost of volunteer insurance. Training is provided for volunteer management and the importance of learning through volunteering to increase employability is recognized. No connection is made however with the implementation of the EU Council recommendation on the recognition and validation of non-formal learning. There is a strong focus on campaigns to promote and encourage volunteering for people of all ages. Volunteer time can be used as co-funding in grants and VIOs are required to gather and make available data about their volunteers as a condition for funding. The city has also made efforts to develop an evidence base for their policies in gathering data about the impact of volunteering. A question about volunteering was also included in the annual census. The city has guides about connecting volunteering with the wider policies of employability, social inclusion and health and well being and has an obvious understanding of the importance of this ‘joined up’ approach.
The application from Bruges provides information about the sustained support to volunteering infrastructure through the establishment and upkeep of the volunteer centre. The centre also provides logistical support to organisations in the form of advice, training and meeting / office space. The support for employee volunteering schemes is limited however but the scheme to involve municipality staff in volunteer organisations is good practice. The centre provides information about the tax situation for volunteers and their organisations. The volunteer centre has become a physical local landmark, well known by the whole population. The volunteering strategy is structured and well organised and was developed together with all stakeholders. The municipality supports and informs about the national volunteering quality standards and seeks to lead by example regarding its own volunteers. There have been innovative promotional campaigns with the general public and the cooperation with the formal education sector is encouraging. There is no evidence in the application form however of efforts to engage older people as part of active ageing policies or campaigns aimed specifically at hard to reach groups. There is a local discount card for volunteers (supported by local businesses), awards, and a ‘thank you’ movie night arranged every year.
There are efforts in Cagliari to assist VIOs in accessing and mobilising funds from third parties but few details about the funding provided for VIOs from the municipality itself. Employee volunteering is supported but not in an ambitious way. It is stated that there is a volunteering strategy in place and although it is not described in detail it is positive that it includes elements related to the training and development of volunteers, their skills and good management and support processes. The principles for quality volunteering supported and promoted by the municipality are unclear and there don’t appear to be any special campaigns or initiatives to involve people hard to reach groups in volunteering projects, as volunteers rather than beneficiaries. The collaboration with schools and the formal education system is a good model but there is a lack of attention to life-long learning and engaging older people in volunteering as part of active ageing. Volunteer time is accepted as co-funding for municipality grants and data is collected to contribute to better evidence based policies.
There is a lack of information in the Cascais application about funding for VIOs and no explanation about how volunteering infrastructure is supported. The action to remove barriers is focussed on providing information about legislation but there are appear to be no concrete actions to give specific help to hard to reach groups that need assistance to overcome social, cultural or financial barriers. There is a good focus on assisting and facilitating municipality employees to volunteer but no explanation about how the municipality works to encourage and facilitate employees of the for-profit sector for example to volunteer. The overall volunteering strategy is well developed with a clear framework and philosophy. Volunteering is encouraged as part of formal education and as such is recognised as a contribution to learning. There is a lack of details about how volunteers themselves are trained and supported for their roles. The quality principles are in line with best practices and the volunteer kit provided for volunteers underlines this. The campaigns to promote volunteering with vulnerable and marginalised groups focusses more on volunteering ‘for’ and not ‘with’ and whilst the connection with schools for volunteering is good there is no focus on volunteering being encouraged for older people. There are no awards but the volunteer passport is a good practice approach even though few details are provided. It is not clear if volunteer time can be used as co-funding for grants and whilst the reporting requirements for organisations contribute to a good evidence base there is no explanation of support for actual research and data gathering.
Whilst the city of Edinburgh obviously provides considerable support to VIOs there is a lack of information about the range and types of individual grants and a lack of detail about specific support to volunteer infrastructure organisations. The approach to support, train and mentor organisations to find new and creative ways to engage people and remove barriers to participation is a good practice approach and the focus on encouraging people with mental health problems to become volunteers rather than always beneficiaries is inspirational. There is a lack of evidence of engagement with the private for-profit sector to facilitate employee volunteering but the pilot project for municipality employees is a step in the right direction. The volunteering strategy is well developed and includes appropriate mechanisms for recognition and training despite being perhaps too focussed on youth and not all age groups. The approach to quality principles is a good example of how to embed national standards into the local reality. There is no explanation of any campaigns or how volunteering connects to life long learning strategies with the awards and incentives focussed mainly on youth. There is a lack of focus and / or explanation about how the media is engaged to help support and promote volunteering. The approach to research can be taken as a good practice but not allowing volunteer time as co-funding is a shortcoming. The way that the strategy on volunteering connects with employability, health and well being and social inclusion strategies can be considered a best practice approach.
London’s approach to funding and resourcing VIOs and infrastructure organisations is creative and seeks to not only focus on direct support that can be provided through range of different types and sizes of grants but also in helping VIOs access and activating other funds from other sources. Volunteer time however is not habitually used as co-funding although possibilities for this are being explored. Evaluation and reporting requirements are proportional to the size of grants and support is given through for example shared IT tools that can assist organisations in reducing overheads and makes scarce resources go further are a good approach. Technology has also been harnessed to reduce barriers to volunteering with several good practice examples presented and the importance of refunding volunteers’ expenses is stressed. Organisations are offered training in how to recruit, retain and support volunteers from hard to reach groups. Employee volunteering is a key element to the strategy with capacity building, brokering and recognition for this form of volunteering well developed. The strategy has been well developed involving stakeholders from different fields and sectors and it is evidence-based and has built in evaluation and monitoring mechanisms in order to contribute to continued improvement. Volunteers are recognised through several award processes that also serve as motivational campaigns. There are best practice examples of training, development and recognition of volunteers that are disseminated amongst VIOs in order to increase standards in this area. Quality principles have been developed through working with appropriate experts and leaders of VIOs are offered training in this. Case studies of examples of high quality volunteering are available for VIOs to consult and are shared on social media in order to set a good example. Different methods are used to promote and encourage volunteering such as open days, social media campaigns, the engagement of ‘celebrities’ and the ‘alumni’ of different programmes and organisations acting as ambassadors. The links to education are strong and there is a solid evidence base through research and data collection for the continued development of volunteering. The strategy is well connected to employability, health and well being and social inclusion strategies.
The funding and support given to VIOs and volunteering infrastructure in Lucca appears to be adequate and a big support is given to one annual event. The municipality is making efforts to simplify procedures in order to reduce barriers to volunteering and makes efforts to facilitate different types of volunteering that could be attractive to different people and interests. There is some evidence of promotion of employee volunteering there is no explanation however of a clear local volunteering strategy or about any training that is provided for volunteer managers for example. The campaigns described that encourage vulnerable and marginalised people to volunteer are examples of a good approach and links to education involve people of all ages. Some information is provided about awards and recognition given to volunteers but it is not sufficiently described and there is no clear connection between volunteering policies and employability, health and well being and social inclusion strategies. The fact that volunteer time can be included as co-funding and the focus on research and data collection is encouraging.
Funding and grants provided by the city of Perm are varied and are available to all kinds of volunteer and volunteer infrastructure organisations but whilst quality is an important component it doesn’t appear to be included as a criteria for financing. The approach to information provision shows a good practice to removal of barriers and the cooperation that has been facilitated between VIOs and media providers also. The way that tax provisions are addressed is encouraging but there is no focus on or support for employee volunteering. The exist of a volunteering strategy is exemplary but little detail is given about how it was prepared or how it is evaluated, monitored and adjusted to ensure its continued relevance. The approach to recognition and support through training and awards is good and should be developed. but more detail about what is understood by quality volunteering, the criteria against which they are measured would be useful. The approach to encouraging volunteering for vulnerable or marginalised people, especially people with disabilities, is a model to be followed and built on and the links to formal education and encouraging young people to ‘learn to act’ is excellent. The awards, volunteer cards, and discount cards are all strong components of a good approach to encourage volunteering and harness the idea that volunteers are best placed to invite, motivate and engage new volunteers. Allowing volunteer time as co-funding provides a good example, as does the use of research and data for the development of evidence based policies.
Rome presents evidence about the amount of funds provided and to which sectors but there is no explanation of the approach regarding different amounts and types of grants to individual initiatives. Information is neither provided about how barriers to volunteering are reduced or removed. The encouragement of employee volunteering for municipal employees is a good example but this is not extended to employers from other sectors in the city. There seems to be a good basis for collaboration between different stakeholders and an embryonic volunteering strategy seems to be in place but it is by no means comprehensive. The training offered by the municipality is wide ranging and connected with recognition and validation procedures offering an added value for the volunteers but there is no information about the approach to quality standards. Some good examples of campaigns to promote volunteering are described, as are some initiatives and projects connected volunteering to education and life-long learning. It is said that there exists events for awarding excellence in volunteering but only one limited example is given. Refunding of expenses are described as an incentive which is contradictory to the European understanding of quality principles in volunteering. The approach to the collection of data about volunteers is positive but this is not translated into allowing volunteer time to be used as co-funding for grants for example. The focus on volunteering for older people as part of active ageing is positive.
Sligo clearly makes supporting volunteering infrastructure a priority with the centre’s tenth anniversary in 2017. There are also project and core grants of different sizes and types made available to organisations. One-off and unique events for the public good that need volunteer support are also supported. Significant support to reduce barriers is demonstrated (eg. reduced time for criminal record checks, free parking and meeting space and encouragement and clarity for people on state benefits who volunteer). VIOs are also trained in the rights and responsibilities of volunteers in order to build their capacity to improve access to people from disadvantaged groups. Employee volunteering is supported for both public and privately employed people. Volunteering strategies are included as part of broader municipality strategies related to overall development and the volunteering infrastructure organisations make the connections between them and works to improve the synergies. The importance of training for volunteer co-ordinators is recognised and supported and volunteers are publically recognised and thanked on a regular basis. The municipality supports the national quality standards and the volunteer centre has achieved the national quality award. There have been several campaigns to promote and encourage volunteering especially to vulnerable and marginalised groups and this is a best practice approach. There are clear, strong links to all levels of formal education and the role of volunteering in active ageing and life-long learning is well understood. The incentive and award schemes, including a volunteer discount card, are exemplary and also the encouragement for local organisations to participate in national awards. The value of volunteer time as co-funding is recognised, and data on volunteering is routinely collected and used to inform evidence based policy making. The volunteering strategy and efforts are clearly linked to employability, health and well being and social inclusion strategies.
Varese shows good support to VIOs and infrastructure organisations that includes direct grants, material support in the form of office and meeting space and also support and assistance in applying for external funds. Barriers are reduced through information campaigns and orientation courses for interested people and also small grants to facilitate the involvement of marginalised young people. There is no support demonstrated for employee volunteering but the overall strategy is encouraging with a co-ordinated approach. The training provided is wide-ranging and well developed and shows an understanding of the need to support volunteers and their managers in order to ensure quality experiences. The specific understanding of quality principles and how this is approached by the municipality is not explained however. The use of media to promote volunteering and the organisation of a festival to promote family volunteering is a best practice approach. The relationship with formal education is strong with volunteering help desks and designated teachers as volunteer contact points in schools is exemplary. There is no obvious connection however to life long learning or active ageing policies. The annual awards schemes are excellent examples of how volunteering can be encouraged. The fact that volunteer time can be used as co-funding is very positive, as is the commitment to research. There are links to employability strategies but the links to health and well being and social inclusion strategies are not apparent.
The approach to funding and support from Viterbo is good and includes access to buildings and premises and other support for overheads. Information about volunteering is provided in an integrated and accessible way in order to reduce barriers. Whilst some tax relief is given to VIOs it is not full relief as in other places and there is no support for Employee volunteering described. The strategy has been developed based on cross-sector collaboration which is best practice and the existence of committees MOUs and support for networking projects shows promise. The approach to the training and development of volunteers is good and clearly described and shows a good understanding of the needs in relation to this. Quality of volunteering is included as a criteria for funding decisions but no details are given about what is understood by quality. A festival is held to promote and encourage volunteering but the approach could be stronger if a diversity of approaches was used. There are good connections with children and young people through the formal education and school system but no evidence of connection with life long learning and active ageing policies and strategies. Award schemes exist and the whole community is involved in nominating and choosing winners. Volunteer time is not eligible as co-funding but the approach to data and research appears to be on a good trajectory. The links of the volunteering strategy to employability, health and well being and social inclusion strategies are strong.