2.4 Youth volunteering at national level
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There is no national programme for youth volunteering. Support to youth volunteering activities or development of youth volunteering system at the municipal level is ensured by the State Youth Policy Programme through project grants to youth organisations or municipalities implementing projects with a focus on this particular issue.
Within the National Youth Policy Programme financial resources (on average around 1 300 000 EUR per year) are channelled to the projects through which support is provided to local authorities and NGOs for the implementation of various activities, including voluntary work and its promotion.
Since 2021 national youth NGOs applying for the operational funding by the State Youth Policy Programme must ensure youth involvement in voluntary work.
Funding opportunities for the implementation of voluntary activities in Latvia also is provided by the two EU programmes ”European Solidarity Corps” (from 2018) and “Erasmus+”. By October 1, 2020, the Quality Label – organisation's entry ticket for organising and hosting volunteering activities was issued to 217 organisations.
To support the inclusion of young people with fewer opportunities, additional funding is available. Inclusion support costs cover expenses related to reinforced mentorship, i.e. the preparation, implementation and follow-up of tailormade activities for young people with fewer opportunities in volunteering projects.
The figures for characterising the popularity of voluntary work are relatively high. According to the research “Well-being of Young People in the Baltic States”, in 2018, 34,1 % of young people in Latvia participated in voluntary work at least once per year.
According to research “Youth in Latvia 2008 – 2013: Activity, mobility, participation”, a young person aged 15-24 on average dedicates 49 hours of his/her time to volunteering activities every year. In general, people in Latvia on average devote 57 hours for voluntary work per year. Most often volunteers are 13-15 years old and approximately 2/3 of them carry out voluntary work at least once a year. However, significantly fewer are volunteers aged with only 2/5 them volunteering at least once a year.
During the last 5 years, no new researches have been carried out on youth voluntary work in Latvia, thus it is not known if / how the situation has changed.
During 2011 – 2014 the State Employment Agency implemented a measure "Supporting Youth Volunteering" targeted at unemployed people aged 18-24. The aim of this measure was to encourage unemployed young people to engage in voluntary activities offered by associations and foundations for the benefit of society.
In 2020, the State Employment Agency implemented a measure “Development of Work Skills” aimed at young unemployed people aged 18 to 29. Within the measure, various voluntary work opportunities were provided for young unemployed people. They could participate in activities organised by associations and foundations. Those young unemployed people who are enrolled in full-time higher education programmes could voluntarily participate in research and academic activities of higher education institutions. The common feature of all voluntary activities carried out within the measure is the benefit provided to the society.
There are different grant programmes implemented in a number of local authorities and municipalities. The programmes offer organisations funding opportunities for projects tackling issues relevant to the particular municipality or local authority. Taking into account that the non-governmental sector is a very important actor of the volunteering system, grant support provision to these organisations is of utmost importance to enable the development of volunteering. Due to municipality budget cuts, the number of financial allocations to grant programmes for non-governmental organisations has significantly decreased.
The Youth Policy Implementation Plan 2016 – 2020 has set the targets and indicators to be achieved in the field of volunteering. A new policy-planning document for the period of 2021 – 2027 is under development, but also will include volunteering as one of the main elements of national youth work.
The Law of Voluntary Work states that a volunteer can be a person who has reached the age of 13. According to the Youth Law youth in Latvia are young people aged 13 to 25, while the target group of volunteering projects of the “European Solidarity Corps" programme are young people aged 18 to 30.