2.1 General context
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Voluntary work is unpaid work or service done by individuals or companies. It is a globally recognized and popular way to involve people in community life, help to change and improve their own quality of life and those around them. Voluntary work is performed in both governmental and non-governmental organisations.
Although a global voluntary work tradition was launched more than 100 years ago a targeted and organised voluntary work in Latvia started to develop only as of 1998. Since then, regardless of age, gender, nationality, religion, political views and other social, physical or geographical conditions, volunteering provides opportunities for everyone:
- to become active in society and to influence social processes;
- to take part in various projects and fulfill one’s ideas;
- to acquire new experience and improve competencies;
- to show off one’s talents and skills etc.
In some areas, such as medicine and education, there are working, specially trained volunteers, all of whom can be involved in other areas if necessary (for example, in response to damage caused by natural disasters).
The Law of Voluntary Work, which was adopted by the Parliament of Latvia on June 18, 2015, came into force on January 1, 2016. The law sets a comprehensive legal framework for volunteering, which might help to foster the development of voluntary work and involvement of the society in voluntary activities.
Understanding the importance of voluntary work in Latvia is strengthening its meaning, thus increasing the number of voluntary activities carried out in non-governmental organisations and municipalities every year.