"Young Volunteers: Active Citizenship with the Future?" Was the theme chosen for this edition, which, as in previous years, aimed to contribute to reflection on the role of Local Volunteer Banks, to allow the exchange of experiences and good practices and to share some of the concerns and difficulties that these structures face in the day to day to develop their work and to identify possible solutions.
During her speech, Ana Pífaro, deputy mayor of Albufeira, stressed that it was in the current mandate that the Municipality decided to create the portfolio of Citizenship and Participatory Budgeting, precisely because it is fundamental to place citizens to participate in active life of the county, noting that in the ambit of citizenship Volunteering plays a fundamental role ".
To facilitate the process, the Autarchy created the project "Albufeira Voluntária", which functions as the meeting place of the municipal institutions that need to welcome volunteers and those interested in volunteering. The project, which has been running since 2009, currently has 85 registered volunteers, most of whom are adults, some of whom are already in the senior phase of life, says Ana Pífaro, who revealed that "in Albufeira there has been a lot of difficulty in captivating young people for Volunteering, with the exception of the episode of the floods of 2015 where many young people actively participated in helping the victims and recovering the areas most affected by the inclement weather; however there was not the ability to continue to motivate them to practice volunteering, "he stressed. Therefore, when, together with our partners, we had to decide the theme of the Meeting, we considered that Youth Volunteering would be a very timely theme, he said, adding, "Albufeira is a Municipality with a young population, so I have great expectations to leave this I have a clearer idea of our difficulties and what needs to be done to improve. "
The Mayor of Albufeira was very pleased that the room was full of young people, saying that usually when talking about volunteering is always associated with situations of social and economic need or to disasters where it is urgent to provide help to those who more precisely. "This is a fundamental and very rewarding aspect, but it is not the only one," he said, stressing that "it is very important to involve young people in student associations, sports clubs and cultural associations, an interesting way of motivating them to practice of volunteering. " José Carlos Rolo reiterated that Albufeira is a city with a very strong associative movement, being able to enjoy this excellent opportunity. The mayor also took the opportunity to launch the challenge to the government to give more incentives to volunteering.
Inês Soares, who attended the meeting on behalf of the city councilor of Lisbon, Manuel Grilo, recalled that the event appeared in 2015, when Lisbon was elected "European Capital of Volunteering", as an internal challenge of the Municipality that ended up having a mobilizing capacity at the level of civil society for the practice of volunteering. The manager presented a very positive balance of previous editions, challenging the municipalities present to host the 5th edition.
Ana Umbelino, city councilor of Torres Vedras, said that "volunteering always carries a desire for change, helping everyone to live better, so we have to create the conditions, mechanisms and instruments so that in the different territories the young people to participate civically in the change of their communities through volunteering. "
Eugénio Fonseca, president of the Portuguese Volunteer Confederation, who had already been present at the First Volunteer Meeting in Albufeira in May 2017, highlighted the liveliness of the participants and said he was very satisfied with the interventions of the young people he described as "very pertinent and well placed. " This type of initiative essentially aims to be an incentive for volunteering, he said, noting that instead of the conclusions of the meeting he would choose to present some fundamental points to better understand the problem of volunteering. "It is normal to hear that we have to prepare for the future, but young people are not the future – they are already the present and have to be part of the solution to the problems that the world is going through." Eugenio Fonseca recalled that the world is difficult, but that is not the first time this happens "the outlines and requirements are different now", so it is fundamental to realize the challenges and opportunities brought about by the crisis periods. In this sequence there are two essential aspects to emphasize: "We are citizens and we are here to make a mark, but now we are citizens of the world, we can meet new cultures, face new challenges and opportunities." On the other hand, "in professional terms nowadays we can not always do what we want and volunteering gives us the possibility to do what we want and what we like the most," he concluded.
Ana Pífaro finished her speech leaving a challenge to the young people: "tell what they want the Autarchy to do for you and what you expect and are available to do for the city in which they live."