Barcelona, London, Lisbon, Padua, Košice, Arhus, Sligo, and now Berlin. They all hold the title of European Volunteer Capital. They all celebrate the many committed citizens. The title "European Volunteering Capital" - awarded by the Brussels-based NGO CEV - European Volunteering Centre -was taken over by Berlin from Padua on 5 December, 2020.
However, the European Volunteering Capital is not just a title: it is about honoring voluntary work and making visible and further developing the interlinking of commitment, politics, administration andbusiness. Furthermore, part of the concept is to strengthen partnerships between cities participating in the competition and to use the potential of transnational engagement.
For the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, Berlin stands for freedom, tolerance, and solidarity.The foundations for the stability of our democratic values are an active, critical and defensible civil society and a policy that supports it. Especially, in difficult times, the great willingness of citizens to help proves once again that volunteering is fundamental for social cohesion. The activities within the framework of the European Volunteering Capital are guided by these thoughts.
In consultation with representatives of Berlin's civil society, which meets in the form of a so-called steering committee, the project office - a tandem of Schwarzkopf-Stiftung Junges Europa and betterplace lab - has defined four topical focuses:
From Workers' Welfare to the Fire Brigade, from Urban Gardening to Underwater Ballet - Berlin's voluntary engagement is impressively diverse. The fact that individuals with diverse interests can work together and create new opportunities for others, can become a model for the future of Europe.
In 2020, no one could ignore digitalization. It is crucial to encourage innovation and give space to projects that use the potential of the digital world to promote solidarity in society.
On 18 February, the campaign year starts with a festive opening ceremony, accompanied by a social media campaign under the motto #EntdeckeDasWirInDir. Volunteers publish their portraits and relate their actions to the big picture. During the campaign year, their pictures and voices appear in publications, on the radio and in TV reports, on billboards and, last but not least, here on our website which has been specially designed for the campaign year to present the diversity of volunteering in Berlin, and to inspire more people to get involved.
The website gathers information on all kinds of activities: existing formats of networking and further education will be disseminated, and new forms of exchange will be created via discussion events, areas of activity, campaigns and awards. From spring 2021 on, our activities will start with the first area of activity, Mental Health. Further areas of activity will follow in the course of the year.
There will be many different events throughout the campaign year. They will be organized not only by the project office, but also by partners and various organizations of Berlin. The basis of all activities is the fundamental idea that civic engagement strengthens our solidarity and the stability of democratic values. The necessary promotion of engagement and democracy in Berlin will be presented to a supra-regional and international audience and discussed and further developed with actors from beyond Berlin. Study visits are planned for autumn 2021. What began with a ceremony will end in December 2021 with a Closing Ceremony. Berlin will then hand over the title to the next European Volunteering Capital: Gdansk in Poland.
In the Event Dates section, various dates are listed to show the wealth of what is happening in Berlin this year. In order to make as many dates as possible accessible to as many people as possible, we welcome your event tips.
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