Volunteerism the ‘glue’ that holds society together: UNV chief
04 October 2004
Turin: The volunteer movement forms an important part of global social capital and has to address the challenge of finding ways to strengthen the potential of local voluntary action,” said Ad de Raad, Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, in a speech during the closing ceremony to mark the 100th year of the Associazione Nazionale Pubbliche Assistenze (ANPAS), the Italian National Association of Public Assistance Groups.
Centenary celebrations for ANPAS comprised of a week-long Volunteer Meeting of Solidarity ending on 3 October and were concluded by a parade of thousands of volunteers from all parts of Italy with musicians and bands from the region of Piemonte to Turin’s Piazza Castello, the venue of the closing ceremony. The conference as well as the volunteer jamboree are also being regarded as an opportunity to pre-celebrate International Volunteer Day .
To his audience on Piazza Castello, Mr. de Raad highlighted the unifying effects of volunteerism in drawing together key actors - non-governmental organizations, governments, the private sector, academia and the media - in the concerted effort to provide support and relief to those in need.
Volunteerism “is the ‘glue’ that holds society together. It is the force that constitutes a vast resource for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)," he said. The solidarity and creativity of millions of ordinary people worldwide, channelled through volunteerism, are key to meeting the MDG targets, he added.
He urged the audience to join the UN Volunteers programme in unleashing the positive energies that come with citizen engagement. “You can help us make the case, to convince those who may be skeptical, that the spirit of volunteering exists all over the world, not only in developed countries but also in developing countries.”
In providing services such as emergency medical care, social programmes for the vulnerable, healthcare programmes and disaster prevention and relief - not only here in Italy but also abroad - ANPAS exemplifies the ideals of volunteerism and global solidarity at its best, Mr. de Raad said. “Through your work, you bridge what in many countries is a divide between local and international volunteer action.”
ANPAS represents 850 associations providing daily services ranging from emergency medical care, social programmes, health care programmes and disaster prevention and relief. Supported by 700,000 members, ANPAS involves some 100,000 trained volunteers. In 1999, ANPAS and its member associations established its international arm, the ANPAS Solidarieta Internazionale. It now has aid programmes in Belarus, Bosnia, Costa Rica, Kosovo, Lithuania, Serbia and Venezuela.