Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, has been chosen as European Capital of Volunteering for 2014. The Minister of Social Welfare and Family of the Government of Catalonia and the Mayor of Barcelona declared that this nomination "is a recognition of the strength of volunteering and the solidarity of Catalan people". The announcement was made last Thursday, International Volunteer Day, at a ceremony held in the European Parliament in Brussels. The other shortlisted cities were Guimarães (Portugal), Rennes and Laval (both in France). Barcelona prepared its candidature in collaboration with the Catalan Federation of Social Volunteering (FCVS) and the La Caixa Volunteers Federation (FASVOL) and with the support of a hundred associations, institutions and other bodies.
The Minister for Social Welfare and Family, Ms Neus Munté, and the Mayor of Barcelona, Mr Xavier Trias, highlighted the importance of Barcelona becoming the European Capital of Volunteering for next year. The Mayor said this "fills the city with pride" and he wanted to share it with the organisations and the people aware of the city's participation. As he pointed out, if Barcelona is going to be European Capital of Volunteering in 2014, "above all it is because of the generosity and solidarity transmitted by the many volunteers in our city. A social asset for which we are grateful and will be recognised in 2014". He also said he was convinced it would help to "share experiences and spread enthusiasm for taking part in building a Barcelona of the people, a Barcelona built on the basis of many deeds of solidarity and social responsibility".
The Minister for Social Welfare and Family, Neus Munté, said the decision to "submit this candidature was based on the conviction that volunteering enhances society and the volunteers themselves". She reminded her audience of the involvement of Catalan society, pointing out that, "according to the Centre for Opinion Studies survey in 2012, 17% of Catalans said 'yes' when asked if they had done or were doing volunteering. This 17%, based on a total population of 7.5 million, would give a figure of 1,275,000 volunteers in Catalonia". According to Munté, that means "Catalan society is a participatory society".
She finished by pointing out that "the Catalan Government can offer volunteers innovative and established resources that are a reference in Europe: Xarxanet, A l'Abast, advice services, the Catalan Volunteer Training Plan, the National Plan for Associations and Volunteering... and soon we will pass the Volunteering in Catalonia Act". Barcelona City Council and the Catalan Government's Minister of Social Welfare and Family presented the candidature on 3 October at the Annual Conference of the European Volunteer Centre (CVE), with the aim of promoting volunteering at local level.
European Capital of Volunteering
This is a European Volunteer Centre initiative. The goal is to promote volunteering at a local level by recognising those municipalities that support and work very closely with voluntary organisations and organisations that promote altruism, as indicated in the recommendations of the Policy Agenda on Volunteering in Europe (PAVE).
The winning municipality, which can be of any size, is the one that can prove best it is implementing the PAVE recommendations, with a special emphasis on the capacity it demonstrates for promoting and facilitating volunteer mobility between countries.