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2014 - October

Good practices in voluntarism. Final conference of the VERSO project

The final conference of the VERSO project was organised in Zalaegerszeg, Hungary, where participants were looking for answers as to how volunteering can promote European employment. The municipality of Zalaegerszeg and the Zalaegerszeg College of Business Administration of the Budapest Business School were also partners to the project.

In the press conference following the conference itself Ifj. Sándor Dénes György said that several working groups had been active in the project along with the steering committee. Among other things, political recommendations have been formulated which are to be submitted to the European Parliament on 8 October. The resulting document highlights the role of volunteering in job creation and improving the quality of life, and puts forth recommendations to promote the spread of voluntary activities. Besides this document, a Good Practice Catalogue has also been prepared to describe the voluntary programmes already in operation within the partner countries.   

Takács Dávid, Associate Professor at BBS CBA Zalaegerszeg commented on their role in the project. Their task was to analyse the good practices in volunteering identified by the eight local or regional municipalities with the other knowledge partners. They specifically performed a cost-benefit analysis, which verified that voluntary activities in fact have a great benefit for the society. As part of the final conference the international partners could also learn about local voluntary activities in the local branch of the OTP Bank and in the Göcseji Museum.

Solt Katalin, Vice-Rector of the Budapest Business School, added that even though voluntarism is not specifically an economic issue, it is still possible to carry out economic analyses in the area. This is the assumption along which they worked out the method of the cost-benefit calculation in which the greatest challenge was to measure and quantify output. Voluntary practices were then ranked according to their applicability and quantified accordingly. She pointed out that getting to know and adopting good practices in voluntarism can be beneficial to all participating municipalities.

 Bert Bouwmeester, the Mayor of Coevorden, the Netherlands, emphasised the importance of the project. He pointed out that voluntarism is the motive force of a viable society and politicians must also take on the responsibility to support such initiatives.

The Municipality of Zalaegerszeg has been granted the opportunity to participate in project VERSO – Volunteers for European Employment with co-funding from the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund between 1 January 2012 and 31 December 2014. Twelve partners representing eight EU member states (Denmark, Spain, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Great-Britain and Greece) participated in the project.

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Revised 2014.11.04