Project “engagement-local”: digital kick-off event

Volunteers are primarily involved on a local level. For this reason, the project “engagement-local” supports 10 localities in Switzerland over a period of three years in order to promote volunteer work more strongly at the local level. At the online meeting on 30 October, the 10 communities presented their planned projects.

After a short welcome by Ruedi Schneider, project manager of “engagement-lokal”, SSCG director Lukas Niederberger embedded the project into a larger framework by reporting on the nature and trends of volunteer work and presenting the latest figures and findings from the Swiss Volunteer Monitor 2020.

Christine Spanninger and Laura Werling from the office of the program “Engagierte Stadt” (engaged city), the German model project of “engagement-lokal”, addressed the participants with a greeting from Berlin and offered the engaged places and regions in Switzerland a perspective for their project development. The project “engaged city” started in Germany in 2015 with 50 cities. Today, the network unites 73 cities with sector-connecting projects and a commitment-friendly strategy and culture.

The team from the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), which provides technical support to the 10 towns and regions between Vernier near Geneva, Eschlikon in Thurgau, Mendrisio in Southern Ticino and from the Upper Engadin and provides scientific support for the project, presented its support services in an online workshop and presented the initial results of its survey on local commitment in Swiss municipalities and cities. The majority of the municipalities and cities surveyed have neither a strategy nor a concept for promoting local volunteer work. Almost half of the municipalities and cities stated that they already promote volunteer work together with business and civil society. And 15% already cooperate with other sectors in a project or coordination group. Those surveyed saw the greatest challenges in the long-term readiness for voluntary work and in socio-demographic changes, such as increasing individualization or declining local relationship structures. The survey also revealed a great deal of interest in a nationwide exchange on the promotion of volunteer work at the local level.

All 10 regions and localities presented their special local challenges and their planned projects in the cross-sectoral promotion of local volunteer work. Some places are already in the process of setting up local coordination centers for volunteer work. All of them would like to integrate local companies more strongly into social commitment. And some want to teach children and young people in particular the meaning, benefits and necessity of volunteer work at school and in their studies.

In the afternoon, three workshops were held to discuss key issues for the committed local and regional authorities and to exchange initial experiences with the projects. One workshop explored the question of how companies can be successfully involved in promoting volunteer work. In the workshop on “Project-oriented cooperation and coordination” the participants reported on how they succeed in getting people who had volunteered during the Corona lockdown to become regularly involved. In the third workshop, experiences were exchanged on how to convince local politicians of the need to promote volunteer work.

As different as the 10 localities are (regions of small villages, agglomeration-communities and city quarters) and as far apart as the places are geographically, a common spirit was already noticeable in this first and also virtual exchange: we want to promote volunteer work on site. And we want this to happen in close cooperation with all actors of the society.

Save-the-date

On May 6, 2021, the SSCG will hold in Berne its 7th volunteer conference on the topic of “local, cross-sectoral promotion of Voluntary work”. Representatives of the 10 localities of the project “engagement-local” will report on their experiences on site. And presentations will show that co-creation and interaction between state, market and civil society not only generates synergies for the promotion of volunteering, but also enables innovative solutions to social challenges. Since spring 2020, the Corona pandemic has provided numerous examples of both successful practice and the lack of such cooperation.