Brussels, 21 September 2011
Intergroup meeting on ‘Enhancing the participation of older volunteers
through the 2011 European Year of Volunteering (EYV2011)’
Older volunteering – everyone has something to gain
In the context of the European Year of Volunteering (EYV 2011), the Intergroup on Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity has held a meeting today to highlight the important contribution that older volunteers bring to society and to reflect on how best to remove the current obstacles to volunteering among older people.
‘Our rapidly ageing population means that decision-makers must take urgent action to encourage all generations to be more active in their communities and also in society more generally. As life expectancy goes up, active ageing should be encouraged through volunteering and is an opportunity to engage all citizens regardless of their age,’ observed Anne-Sophie Parent, Secretary-General of AGE Platform Europe.
Volunteering has many positive benefits for older people. It can enhance their social inclusion, impact positively on their health and general well-being and give them a sense of being valued and of making a worthwhile contribution to society.
However, many cultural, legal and practical barriers still prevent older people from volunteering. These include negative stereotypes based on their age which need to be addressed without delay.
Today’s meeting on ‘Enhancing the participation of older volunteers through the 2011 European Year of Volunteering (EYV2011)’ provided an occasion for Intergroup members and stakeholders to reflect on how their expectations for the current European Year of Volunteering are being met as well as the benefits that volunteering brings for older people and how this links into the aims of the EY2012 to promote active ageing. During the meeting, a Resolution on the importance of involving older people in volunteering activities was endorsed by Cristina Gutierrez Cortines (EPP), Kinga Göncz (S&D), Jean Lambert (Greens), Kartika Liotard (GUE), Liz Lynne (ALDE), Claude Moraes (S&D) and Lambert van Nistelrooij (PPE), Co-Chairs of the Intergroup, and by Martin Kastler (PPE), rapporteur for the EP report on the EY2012. This Resolution presents volunteering as a vital component of active ageing and includes a number of recommendations to the EU and stakeholders at national and local level that would enhance volunteering opportunities for older people.
AGE Platform Europe also took this occasion to launch its new position paper which explores the links between the European Year of Volunteering 2011 and the upcomingEuropean Year 2012 on Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations. The objective of this paper is to encourage stakeholders to build on the momentum created by the European Year of Volunteering to foster active ageing in the community during 2012 and promote better recognition of the value that older volunteers bring for our societies.