2.4 Youth volunteering at national level
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There are no national programmes for youth volunteering.
There is no funding available for national programmes, but there is support for the youth work volunteers by the Parliament Act of 20 January 2012 on a renewed youth and children’s rights policy (decreet van 20 januari 2012 houdende een vernieuwd jeugd- en kinderrechtenbeleid).
Data that was gathered in 2018 among a representative sample of Flemish young people between 14 and 25 old (called the Youth Monitor, carried out by the Youth Research Platform (Jeugdonderzoeksplatform; analyses on volunteering are also reported in Dhoore, 2021) indicate that 35% of the young in this age group participate in voluntary activities. Boys and girls volunteer in approximately equal amounts: 33.6% of the boys surveyed and 36.3% of the girls volunteer. Young people who follow or have followed vocational or technical secondary education participate significantly less in volunteering (respectively 30.8% and 32.6%) than young people who follow or followed general or art secondary education (40.9%). Participation in voluntary work is also related to the place where young people live. Young people living in a metropolitan environment participate, on average, less in voluntary work (23.7%) than young people living in a non-metropolitan environment (35.9%). Age and subjective household income are not related to volunteering among Flemish youth.
Types of support
Any volunteer can receive a reimbursement for costs made during his/her voluntary activities, provided that the organization is willing to pay (however, the Law does not provide a legal right to volunteers to receive this reimbursement of costs).
The Act on the rights of volunteers (2005, Vrijwilligerswet) defines two types of reimbursement to support (young) volunteers (more info: http://www.vlaanderenvrijwilligt.be/wetgeving/kosten-en-vergoedingen/ ):
- The volunteer may either receive a fixed reimbursement (regardless of real costs): in this case, the volunteer can receive
- a maximum of 36.84 Euro a day (2022), for a maximum of € 1473.37 a year (2022)
- for some types of volunteers (volunteers in the sport sector, the voluntary night and daytime minders for people in need, volunteers in non-emergency patient transport and in 2022 also volunteers active in vaccination centers and crisis volunteers in care) the annual maximum is increased to € 2705.97
- The organization can opt for a system of “reimbursement of real costs”. In this case, the organization only pays the expenses that are actually made by the volunteers (use of car, telephone, meals, etc) as proof has to be provided in for each expense.
The Policy Paper on Youth (2019-2024) mentions that attention should be paid to the support of volunteers, and that youth work organizations will be helped to find new volunteers. A type of support is the reimbursement of the registration fee of training courses for youth volunteers by local governments.
Social security provisions
The Act on the rights of volunteers (2005) contains provisions that refer to the legal status and social protection of (young) volunteers. In principle, liability for damage caused to third parties by a volunteer lies with the organization (= immunity principle). If deceit, gross negligence or recurrent minor faults are involved, the volunteer him/herself can be held accountable.
The Act on Voluntary Work of 3 April 2009 of the Flemish government (for organizations in the fields of Welfare, Health and Family) provides social security to (young) volunteers. The organizations working with volunteers should be covered by insurances on:
- civil liability of the organization
- civil liability of the volunteer. Volunteers are ensured for damage done to the organization, volunteers or third parties during their voluntary work.
- accidents and health problems suffered by volunteers during their voluntary work
Since the 1st of January 2018, Flanders provides a free insurance for volunteers (vrijwilligersverzekering). This insurance replaces the former collective insurance for volunteers that was provided by the Provincial Support Centres. From then on, the Flemish Support Centre for Volunteer Work provides an authorisation number which is needed to apply for this insurance. This free insurance is especially interesting for occasional or temporarily activities or for extra activities. This insurance especially benefits the volunteers working in voluntary organizations in Flanders and Brussels. The organization can be an association or a non-profit private legal entity. From the 1st of April 2019 it got a new start.
There are no official regulations on standards of quality for voluntary youth work.
However, the five Provincial Support Centres, the Brussels Support Centre (Steunpunt Vrijwilligerswerk Brussel) and the Flemish Support Centre for Volunteer Work (Vlaams Steunpunt Vrijwilligerswerk) are responsible for the coordination and support of voluntary work in Flanders. These Support Centres also strive for a broader social – and formal – recognition of voluntary work.
In addition, organizations working with volunteers usually provide a form of training, education or support for volunteers which may or may not lead to the award of a certificate. Although such certification is not legally recognized by the Ministry of Education, these initiatives give an indication of the basic quality.
On the other hand, youth work organizations organize lots of courses and give certificates for youth animators, which are nearly all volunteers. These certificates have a legal ground in the Parliament Act of 20 January 2012 on a renewed youth and children’s rights policy.
There is also no system of quality assurance.
The Flemish Government dictates in the Act on Voluntary Work of 3 April 2009 some rules concerning voluntary organizations in the welfare and health sectors and defines conditions governing recognition and subsidies.
In addition, the Flemish Government defines some rules concerning youth voluntary work organizations at Flemish level in the Flemish Parliament Act of 20 January 2012.
Policies and initiatives do not identify specific target groups.