On this page
On this page
TheOffice of the Commissioner for Volunteerism and Non-Governmental Organizations is the main actor involved in policy-making and the main governmental authority responsible for volunteerism. On 29 May 2013, the President of the Republic of Cyprus appointed the Commissioner by assigning him the following duties and responsibilities:
- Recommend policies that encourage active citizenship and strengthen the role of civil society at all levels;
- Create tools that encourage active citizenship, with emphasis on the young generation, in political decision-shaping, such as public consultation working groups, questionnaires, online discussions and surveys.
- Coordinate all voluntary organizations and NGOs and strength their co-operation with Local Authorities and the Church,;
- Support the work of Voluntary Organizations and NGOs, with respect to their autonomy and independence;
- Make good use of the European Programs to fund Non-Profit Organizations (NGOs);
- Work for the recognition of non-formal and informal learning on the basis of the Volunteer Legislative Framework,
- Develop a protocol for the utilization of volunteers in times of crisis and emergencies.
According to the Annual Report 2018-2019 of the Office of the Commissioner, the main public actors involved in the development of policies in the field of youth volunteering are:
- Youth Board of Cyprus, as the coordinator of the National Youth Strategy, in the preparation of which the Office of the Commissioner is actively involved.
- The cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth on the cultivation of volunteerism and active citizenship in schools is considered extremely important. In this context, specific measures are promoted, such as the realization of informative presentations and experiential workshops in educational institutions, the promotion in the school units of the Handbook "Cultivation of Volunteering and Active Citizenship in Schools", the involvement of the Commissioner in various voluntary, charitable and other activities of the schools and the validation of non-formal and informal Learning.
- The Ministries of Interior, Justice and Public Order, Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment cooperate with the Office of the Commissioner in order to manage volunteers during disasters and/or emergencies. The Pancyprian Centre for Coordination of Humanitarian Aid Management is also under construction.
- The Ministry of Justice and Public Order and the Cyprus Police (Crime Combating Department) are responsible for the “Neighborhood Watch” Scheme aiming at encouraging citizens to participate on a voluntary basis so as to prevent and reduce crime. In cooperation with the Cyprus Police and the Fire Service, actions are being prepared to encourage members of the Association and volunteer citizens to participate in joint prevention programs for fire and criminality. During the first half of 2019, the pilot operation of the "Forest and Rural Observers" program was planned.
- The Ministry of Defence established the Volunteer Week in the National Guard, proceeding to various voluntary and charitable activities, such as collecting food, organizing a football match, blood donation and the set of an information kiosk for people with special needs.
- The Statistical Service of Cyprus, in the framework of its cooperation with the Office of the Commissioner for Volunteering and Non-Governmental Organizations, included in its research questions concerning the involvement of Cypriots, aged 16 and over, in voluntary activities, individually or collectively. The survey generally covered Income and Living Conditions in Households for the year 2017.
In addition, the promotion of volunteerism takes place in consultation with non-public actors such as the local NGOs. One of the main non-public actors in volunteering is the Pancyprian Volunteerism Coordinative Council (PVCC). The PVCC was founded in 1973, when there was a need for coordination amongst the voluntary organizations, development of policy for the voluntary sector and social policy consultation with the voluntary sector and cooperation with governmental authorities.
Recognizing the vital role of the Council, the State decided to provide a legal framework [the Pancyprian Welfare Council Law (152/89)] for its operation. In 2001 it was recognized that there was a need to further upgrade the legal framework of the PVCC in order to respond to its role and mission more effectively. In 2006, the House of Representatives passed a new legislation that governs “the establishment and function of the Pan Cyprian Volunteerism Coordinative Council” (PVCC). Under the new legislation the Council has a new operational framework, new responsibilities and a broader role for the coordination and development of the voluntary sector and volunteerism in general. As stated in their official website “the dialogue between the PVCC and the State takes place at various levels, through meetings, participation of PVCC’s representatives in Committees and through PVCC’s activities that promote dialogue and cooperation with the state officials, the legislative and executive power”.
There is not a distribution of responsibilities between top-level and regional/local authorities.
Cross-sectoral cooperation takes place in an organic way. Right now, the only available mechanisms of structured cross-sectorial cooperation in youth volunteering policies are found through the National Youth Strategy.