2.3 National strategy on youth volunteering
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In Malta, The National Strategy on Volunteering – Moving Towards 2025 is part of the Government’s policy for larger democratic participation accompanied by a tangible economic and social improvement for all. It is the aim of the Ministry for Inclusion, Social Well-Being and Voluntary Organisations as well as the Government at large that the Strategy adheres to and reflects agreed standards and principles which are both established within the Voluntary Organisations Act as well as in the informal rules of the same sector.
The National Strategy on Volunteering – Moving Towards 2025, focuses on three main pillars which are both independent yet still dependent on each other in their growth and functionality.
The first pillar is the reality of the community in which the same community exists in Malta and Gozo today, with all the realities that affect the lives and the environment in which we live in. This pillar looks into the setting up of coherent policies which, through their effective implementation, support communities in an active and effective manner to address realities, needs, and aspirations.
The second pillar is the development of the first National Volunteer Strategy to complement both decades of work undertaken by the sector as well as reflect the newly amended legislation that regulates the same sector. The newly amended VO Act requires that such a strategy is put in place in order to support and promote the VO Sector in its operation in respect of the established legislations while creating the tools, administrative frameworks, and financial support for the sector to work within such legislation.
The third pillar is the Government’s policy for greater democratic participation, equitable economic and social progress for all, and inclusive participation. This direction is already enacted in the newly amended VO Act 2018 where the framework for more democratization has been embedded in the law, which now needs to cascade in the various Government policies and initiatives which relate to and affect the VO Sector.
The policy also puts a strong focus on young people. The document recognises recognise the need of support young volunteers by making roles within voluntary organisations accessible for young people while providing them with guidance and support. The policy acknowledges that, like older cohorts, young people face similar challenges when it comes to volunteering such as making time to volunteer however it recognises that their motivations may be held in different priorities, with more value for most young people on skill development, as well as giving something back to the community/ pursuing personal interests/being with friends.
The Governmental authority responsible for this action plan is the Ministry responsible for the Voluntary Sector – currently the Ministry for Inclusion, Social Wellbeing and Voluntary Organisations under which the entities that regulate voluntary activities fall. In this regard, the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector is the main implementing arm while the Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations is the regulator.
The National Strategy for Volunteering 2020-2025 was the first policy document of its kind in Malta. The Strategy has a strong focus on youth pointing towards the zeal and energy that young people can bring to the sector. The voluntary activity must be seen as a part of citizenship for Training and using young people as ambassadors, to help potential young people to put themselves in volunteers’ shoes; 8. Providing youth workers to train voluntary organisations on how to manage and maintain young volunteers. However, the concept of youth volunteering has always been part of the National Youth Policy Documents and was always given its due importance. However, it was since the third revision of the national youth policy published in the 2010 document that volunteering as a standalone concept was really highlighted. This is evident as in this third revision document 'Community Cohesion and Volunteering' became one of the main themes in the document. Volunteering started to be seen as a means of engaging young people and instil in them a sense of community. Also, the experience gained through volunteering started to be recognised as an asset when such young people would enter the world of work. Such a direction was maintained in the National Youth Policy published in 2015 within which voluntary and community activities are one of the main action plans.
This is further reflected in the new National Youth Policy Towards 2030: Reaching out to, working with, and supporting young people that has as one of its aims to empower young people through the effective practice of young work in voluntary entities. The policy includes a strategic goal focused solely on volunteering. It strives to promote and facilitate cross-sectoral initiatives with the voluntary, state, and private sectors that adopt an integrated and cohesive approach to meeting young people's needs and fulfilling their aspirations.