It all started in 2013, when the Brussels Centre for European Volunteering (CEV), which has been supporting volunteering since 1992, launched the European Volunteering Capital competition. The idea behind it to promote and develop volunteering at the local level. The former Vice-President of the European Commission, Viviane Reding, welcomed the initiative. CEV succeeded in demonstrating strong cross-border volunteering in Europe through continuous support. Thus the #EVCapital (European Volunteering Capital) is a Europe-wide, open competition that aims to promote volunteering at the local level. CEV recognises municipalities that strengthen, celebrate and promote volunteering and the impact of volunteers. For example, by supporting partnerships with volunteer centers and organizations.
All European municipalities can participate. The winning municipality will be selected from the candidates by an international jury composed of well-known personalities associated with volunteering and representing civil society, the private for-profit sector, and the EU institutions.
The award is selected from among the applying municipalities by an international jury of experts, subject to certain criteria and requirements.
The announcement of the next European Volunteering Capital takes place every year in December around the International Volunteer Day at the closing ceremony of the incumbent EVCapital. The title will be used to raise awareness of volunteering and volunteer-relatedactivities at local, national, regional, and EU level.
This is how it came about that the title was officially handed over to Berlin by the Volunteer Capital Padua in Italy on 5 December 2020, on International Volunteer Day.
As the European Volunteering Capital 2021, 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.
This fundamental idea of a democratic community is the basis for all activities in the Year of Action 2021. These are challenging times, but they make it clearer than ever what a central place volunteering has in people's lives. Either because they volunteer themselves or because they experience community, togetherness, appreciation, and joy through the volunteering of others. Thus, the motto of the campaign year #EntdeckeDasWirInDir is both an encouragement and a reminder. We make common cause.
1. We want to use the year to encourage more people in Berlin to get involved in volunteering and to lower the hurdles to getting involved.
2. We want to give visibility to people and groups who are very committed but hardly noticed by the public. Networking, further education, and exchange opportunities for volunteers are important keywords for this.
3. In times when democracy is under threat, we also want to set impulses beyond the city in order to make lived democracy and voluntary engagement visible and to exchange with with actors from beyond the region.
And this much can already be revealed: The next European Volunteering Capital has already been chosen. It is Gdańsk in Poland, just 500 km away from us. But before we travel to the port city at Poland's Baltic coast, we take a look at Berlin and the variety of volunteering in this internationally networked European metropolis.