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Programme Youth Rules (Mladi su zakon) is a national youth volunteering programme established in 2010 by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. It aims to encourage young people to join, actively participate and conduct small initiatives that can change and improve their quality of life in the local context. Through these activities young people can organize spaces for leisure time in local communities, conduct environmental campaigns and activities, actions aimed at fostering humanity and solidarity, tolerance, security, intergenerational cooperation and entrepreneurship of young people.
Two main types of activity are supported and implemented within the programme:
- youth voluntary projects and
- international voluntary workcamps.
Each year, more than 40 organizations and 1.500 young people across the country are involved in the programme in more than 60 local municipalities. It is coordinated by Young Researchers of Serbia – Volunteer Service of Serbia and selected Resource Centres (see Glossary) across the country.
Since 2010, more than 1500 youth ad-hoc volunteer projects have been financed and implemented by associations of young people and informal youth groups, which have arranged premises for young people in local communities, environmental actions undertaken, actions aimed at fostering humanity and solidarity, understanding and tolerance, security, intergenerational cooperation and entrepreneurship of young people. Youth volunteering projects actively involved young people in social flows, enabling them to contribute to the community and the environment. These projects showed that young people recognise issues in their communities, that they want to be involved and help in resolving them.
International voluntary workcamps mostly deal with a specific need or a local community problem in a more sustainable or systematic way. Workcamps are mechanism through which international and national mobility of young people is encouraged. From 2014 a total of 162 international volunteer camps were organized in which participated more than 1200 volunteers from 25 countries and more than 1300 young people from Serbia.
Symbolically, each year on International Volunteers Day, 5 December, the programme Youth Rules celebrates accomplishments made in the previous year.Funding
In 2018 the amount of funding dedicated to the national programme was EUR 171.155. 143 youth volunteering projects (omladinski volonterski projekti) and 35 international volunteering camps (međunarodni volonterski kampovi) were financially supported by the Ministry of Youth and Sport, and by experts from 11 Resource Centres and Young Researchers of Serbia. Youth volunteering groups from Serbia through renovated spaces for youth in their local communities and implemented actions aimed at encouraging solidarity, understanding, tolerance, safety, intergenerational cooperation, unselfish contribution to the development of the community and environmental protection, as well as encouraging entrepreneurial spirit among young people.
In 2019 of funding dedicated to the national programme was more than EUR 186.000.Characteristics of youth volunteering
Official statistics on the level of annual participation of young people in volunteering in the Republic of Serbia is not available. The Ministry of Youth and Sport conducts annual Survey on Position and Needs of Youth in the Republic of Serbia (Položaj i potrebe mladih u Republici Srbiji) covering some questions regarding youth volunteering (see Chapter 1/1.6 Evidence-based youth policy/National Statistics and available data sources).
The Ministry of Youth and Sport conducted the Survey on Youth Activism and Awareness in the Republic of Serbia 2016 (Aktivizam i informisanost mladih u Republici Srbiji), declaring that 24% of interviewed youth participated in some form of voluntary activities in 2016. Compared to the previous years, this number differs from 31% in 2014 to 22% in 2015.
According to the Survey on Youth Activism and Awareness 2016, the activities took place in:
- charity work (35,6%),
- social responsibility and contribution to the community (26,8%),
- acquiring new skills and knowledge (18,2%).
Additionally, 10,1% of young people said that they volunteered because they had had free time, while 7,6% of young people volunteered in order to get recommendations for future jobs.
Organisations in which young people so far had the opportunity to volunteer are mostly charity (27%), civil society (25%), institutions such as health centres, youth, cultural and similar centres (18.5%), sports organisations (12.7%), youth offices (11.8%).Support to young volunteers
The support to volunteers is specified in the Law on Volunteering. Volunteers are not allowed a financial compensation or other material benefits from volunteering. But the organisation or institutions engaging volunteers need to provide them with the following benefits which are not considered to be financial compensation mentioned above:
- working clothes and means and equipment for personal protection of volunteers;
- travel, accommodation, food and other expenses arising from the volunteering services and activities;
- medical examinations needed for volunteering;
- preparatory trainings for conducting volunteering services and activities;
- insurance premiums paid in the event of an injury or professional illness during volunteering, or financial compensation for insurance for damage incurred in the organizer of volunteering or a third party;
- payment of pocket money, in case of long-term volunteering (see Chapter 2/2.1 General context/Main concepts). The amount of pocket money may not exceed 30% of the net amount of the minimum monthly full-time salary in the Republic of Serbia. The payment of the pocket money is determined by the contract on volunteering.
The main mechanism for monitoring and ensuring the quality of youth volunteering programmes, projects and schemes is the monitoring of the number of young people participating in volunteering projects and programmes, as well as the existence of national evidence of volunteering programmes/projects and their organisers.
The Law on Volunteering defines responsibilities of both the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs and the organisers of volunteering programmes/projects. The Ministry is responsible for keeping the records of volunteering organisers and prescribing the application contents for the organisers of volunteering. The volunteering organiser is obliged to register any voluntary activity that is to be conducted for the first time.
The Ministry of Youth and Sport is involved in youth voluntary activities monitoring as well. It conducts surveys and research on youth activism, awareness, needs and position, together with the research on the implementation of National Youth Strategy Action Plans. So far, one evidence-based monitoring evaluation of the implementation of the National Youth Strategy Action Plan has been conducted for years 2015-2017 (see Chapter 1/1.3 National Youth Strategy/Responsible authority for the implementation of the youth strategy).
These surveys and reports are not targeted only/directly to the youth volunteering activities, but they cover relevant questions for monitoring and measures development.
The main outcome so far of conducted reports and surveys is the Action Plan 2018-2020 of the National Youth Strategy 2015-2025 which was developed according to the results and recommendations provided in mentioned documents.
Additionally, the Law on Volunteering specifies that the volunteering organiser is obligated to provide the volunteers with a written confirmation of their voluntary work, upon their request. This confirmation consists of:
- a volunteer personal information,
- volunteering organiser information,
- a brief description of volunteering services and activities,
- period of volunteering and
- information on preparatory trainings for conducting volunteering services and activities.
Initiatives in the field of youth volunteering at national level do not identify specific target groups within the youth population.