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Healthy Cities CZ

Healthy Cities
of the Czech Republic

Seminar of Healthy Cities proved municipal interest in public service and development of volunteering

Thematic Section of Healthy Cities of the Czech Republic (HZZC) titled "Public service and volunteering - the current situation and development opportunities in municipalities" took place on May 16, 2013 in Prague at Novotneho Lavka. The aim of the event prepared in collaboration with National Volunteering Centre HESTIA was to introduce approved procedures and offer inspiration on how to use the potential of public service and volunteering in municipalities efficiently.

At the beginning, Petr Svec, NSZM director and Jiri Tosner, HESTIA chairman, introduced the joint project on the subject of volunteering and public service. The men talked about planned events, such as trainings, seminars and conferences, about 6 pilot projects, prepared by volunteering centres together with municipalities or the region, but also about preparation of tactical guidebook for municipalities on how to develop the area of volunteering actively. P. Švec mentioned collaboration with foreign partners from Slovakia and Finland.

The first half of the seminar featured panel discussion attended on the national level by Stepan Hosna, adviser to the secretary of minister of labour and social affairs, Monika Zelenkova on behalf of CZ Employment Office and Radek Jiranek on behalf of the Ministry of Interior. The local level and application of public service in Vsetin was presented by the vice-mayor Kvetoslava Othova, the view of volunteering centre in Usti nad Labem was presented by its director, Lenka Cerna The most extensive discussion took place on the very subject of public service and its current legislative foundation. Both Vsetin and representatives of other cities made an appeal to maintain public service as a suitable tool for return of the long-term unemployed into the working process. However, they accentuated the necessary motivation for those who perform public service, be it in a form of certain financial bonus or motivation by way of preferential treatment in the process of mediating employment. They especially pointed out the voluntariness of the applicant's decision to participate in public service. The discussion further dealt with support required for public service coordinators in the cities, whether directly in the offices or collaborating organisations. S. Hosna discussed the possible planned proposals for legislative changes, nevertheless, he admitted that the cities probably will not see these completed until the end of 2013. R. Jiranek of the Ministry of Interior spoke about the law on volunteering service and about accreditation of volunteering organisations or programmes as well as about consequent subsidies that the MoI provides to these organisations and programmes, especially for obligatory insurance of volunteers, their travel expenses, aids or supervision. "An event of this kind and general activities of Healthy Cities in this field present a very suitable form of how to further develop volunteering in practice and further raise the prestige of volunteers themselves", added Jiránek. L. Cerna with another thematic contribution added an interesting example of organising and coordinating volunteering activities in the area of two regions jointly, all this owing to the Council of Volunteering Centres of Usti and Karlovy Vary Regions. She mentioned the important role of self-governments for the development of volunteering, be it by the above stated coordination, sufficient knowledge, but especially the component of motivation and strengthening of volunteering's and volunteer's' prestige. Practical experience brought very inspiring contributions from Prachatice that presented activities of the young generation of volunteers within the KREBUL organisation. City representative, H. Rabenhauptova further added a number of interesting activities and events dedicated to the subject, as supported by Prachatice. For their approved procedures, all three cities – Vsetin, Prachatice and Ustí n. Labem received a special HCCZ "stamp" proving their best practice (see photograph). At the end of seminar, representatives of HESTIA introduced a successful seniors' volunteering programme 3G, where seniors offer help by spending free time with children. The end of the programme featured an example of very interesting approach of VODAFONE to the subject of corporate volunteering - whether through its offer of company experts who can operate in non-profit organisations for one year with the company covering their wages or support of volunteering projects brought by the employees of the company themselves.

All the featured presentations as well as photographs from the event have been posted at the event website.

The event has been supported with financial resources of ESF and from the state budget within the Operational Programme of Human Resources and Employment.