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The CEV Symposium “Volunteering as a means of empowerment and social inclusion – A bridge between the European Years 2010 and 2011” took place in Brussels in the framework of the Belgian EU Presidency, on 6-8 December 2010. The event gathered over 150 participants from 25 countries from all over Europe and beyond, among which professionals from the volunteering sector; decision-makers, such as MEP Silvia Costa, Belgian Minister President of the Flemish Community Kris Peeters, or the leader of the EC Taskforce for the European Year of Volunteering John Macdonald;  experts in the field of the fight against poverty and social exclusion such as EAPN Director Fintan Farrell or Belgian Researcher Carmen Mathijssen; as well as volunteers and people experiencing poverty and social exclusion.

This CEV Symposium aimed at showcasing the empowering potential of volunteering in the fight against poverty and social exclusion, and this way building a bridge between the European Years 2010 and 2011. In this context, the participants debated and voted on a common conference statement, the Brussels Declaration, which formulates 43 concrete steps to be undertaken by key stakeholders, around four main dimensions:

  • Boosting the contribution of volunteers and volunteer organisations to promoting empowerment and social inclusion: Volunteering “with” people experiencing poverty and social exclusion
  • Enhance the inclusiveness of volunteering and its potential to be a means of empowerment; social inclusion and active citizenship – Promoting volunteering “of” people experiencing poverty and social exclusion
  • Ensure that volunteering is a right for all: providing and encouraging an enabling legal environment for the active participation of people experiencing poverty and social exclusion
  • Recognise and boost the potential of volunteering as a way to acquire skills and to enhance employability
  • The Brussels Declaration will now be disseminated around, with the aim to better harness the voluntary sector in the common effort towards the eradication of poverty and social exclusion in our societies


Markus Held, CEV Director, says: “We at the European Volunteer Centre (CEV) are very pleased to have served as a convener for so many stakeholders active in the fight against poverty and social exclusion at this pivotal moment: It was our contribution to close the European Year 2010 highlighting the potential of voluntary action for empowerment and social conclusion – and the launch for our Year of Volunteering 2011. It is always so amazing to see in how many different ways volunteers are crucial actors in our society and the CEV Brussels Declaration will ensure that we continue the debate and take concrete action to further boost these roles.”


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