Magazine

Diverse, united, cosmopolitan: volunteering in Berlin

A study visit with international guests took place in Berlin from 13 to 14 September. This is a traditional part of all European Volunteering Capitals, which is about networking between the capitals, gaining insight into local and European voluntary work, as well as exchanging experiences and developing future scenarios.

Sawsan Chebli, Staatssekretärin/State Secretary © Jens Ahner
© Jens Ahner
Taking off the FFP mask for the group photo: The participants of the study visit on day 1.

Guests included representatives of previous (Padua, Aarhus, among others) and future volunteering capitals (Gdansk) and the candidates for 2023 (including Trondheim, Asti and Oeiras, among others, with whom we conducted interviews), who presented their applications at the end of the study visit. Also present were representatives of volunteer organisations from all over Europe, who got to know the Berlin volunteer landscape and networked. The Berlin EVC project office also presented its various areas of engagement, including, for example, the different fields of action, the innovation contest and past events.

 

The Study Visit was organised by the European Academy Berlin with the support of the EVC Project Office and the Berlin Senate Chancellery. At the start, State Secretary Sawsan Chebli welcomed the international guests. In her speech, she referred, among other things, to the important task of giving minorities a voice, promoting bottom-up projects and further strengthening democracy through the participation of civil society. 

Mareen Walus, Sustainability Officer of HOWOGE and initiator of the Berlin Social Academy, and Friedemann Walther, Head of the Department for Civic Engagement in the Senate Chancellery, reported from their perspective on the EVC Year and their work with volunteers in Berlin. Part of the study visit was also the hybrid conference "Revealing European Values in Volunteer Events" (REVIVE), organised by the Centre for Volunteering (CEV) and the BBE, with various workshops, which took place in the European House.  

 

© EVC-Projektbüro
Representing the Berlin EVC project office, Katja Jäger reported in the European House on the Berlin campaign year and the priorities set.
© Jens Ahner
Visit to the volunteer fire brigade in Kreuzberg.

This year, around 50 people from 18 countries took part. The programme also included on-site visits to Berlin-based organisations that presented their work, including:

  •  Prinzessinnengarten Kollektiv 
  •   Refugio Berlin 
  •   Landesmusikrat Berlin e.V. 
  •   Freiwillige Feuerwehr Kreuzberg 
  •   AWO Begegnungszentrum Kreuzberg 
  •   Nachbarschaftshaus Urbanstrasse e.V. 
  •   Berliner Missionswerk
  •   Refugee Law Clinic e.V.
  •   Schülerpaten Berlin e.V.

This was followed by a joint plenary session in the European Academy with other invited organisations with whom the guests could exchange views on volunteering in Europe. This included cross-cutting issues that concerned everyone in their daily work, such as: 

  • migration, participation and diversity 
  • the pandemic and its consequences 
  • isolation 
  • shrinking spaces
  • community work (neighbourhood management) 
  • financial support for projects 
  • creativity and innovation potential of civil society 
  • trust in the work of citizens, administration and politics 
  • different forms and generations of voluntary work  

Their expertise and experiences were shared in the form of a world café.: Marina Mantay (European Commissioner of Berlin-Mitte), Ute Matschull-Mesfin „Seniorpartner in School“ (Landesverband Berlin e.V.), Jonas Richter (Vereinigung Junger Freiwilliger e.V. /Association of Young Volunteers), Friedrich Rohde (KIEZconnect) und Carola-Schaaf-Derichs (Landesfreiwilligenagentur Berlin/ national Volunteering Agency Berlin). 

© Manuel Gutjahr
Taking off the FFP mask for yet another group picture: Day 2 of the Study Visit in the garden of the European Academy with international guests and committed people from Berlin.