On the Day of Volunteering
Young people are involved in voluntary work, they work for themselves and others with a high level of personal commitment. Especially in youth associations volunteering plays a fundamental role. The contents and topics of this commitment are as colourful and diverse as the interests and needs of young people: Leisure time, sociability, education, solidarity, coping with everyday life, the world of work and much more. A large part of voluntary work is self-organised. It is precisely because of this matter of course that volunteer activities should be particularly appreciated and supported. As a cornerstone of democracy and a contribution to a social, functioning civil society, this must be reflected in public and political recognition.
A policy of engagement can only take place in dialogue with civil society. The political promotion of volunteer work must focus on creating framework conditions that enable and support volunteer work. Both of these aspects are missing in the current discourse on the Foundation for Engagement and Volunteering initiated by the German government. It would be much more important to strengthen existing structures and support existing projects than to create a new foundation in the form currently planned.
An independent civil society with non-profit associations is indispensable for a lively and strong democracy. The basis of a policy of engagement must be a sharpened concept of non-profit making that is equally valid for all areas of government action. It must be based on altruistic and charitable actions, even if this is sometimes uncomfortable for politicians. We have formulated our understanding of this together with other non-profit associations and organisations from the most diverse areas of our society in the "Charta for Civil Society and Democracy".
Our position on the recurring debate about compulsory service in the German Bundeswehr or in social institutions is clear: compulsory service is unnecessary and counterproductive. Engagement cannot and must not be forced. Our chairman Tobias Köck says: "Cohesion in Germany is not endangered by young people. It is presumptuous to impose compulsory service on young people - and only on them." Our chairwoman Lisi Maier adds: "Recognition and appreciation for voluntary commitment and not coercion and official duty lead to more solidarity. among all people, regardless of age."