Budget cuts prompt call for more volunteers
the Dutch government is urgently calling for more people to become volunteers, free newspaper Metro reports.
Currently numbering five million, the Netherlands has the highest number of volunteers in Europe, but volunteer organisations say more are urgently needed in order to replace professionals sacked as a result of budget cuts.
Els Berman, an executive on the board of sector organisation NOV, says volunteers are increasingly asked to perform duties that form part of normal operational management, and warns there is a risk of organisations such as the police force becoming overly dependent on volunteers.
NOV also stresses the importance of coordinators to ensure that the talents, wishes and availability of volunteers match the needs of the organisations that want to make use of their services.
However, the austerity measures which prompted the appeal for more volunteers are also having a devastating effect on volunteer organisations themselves. According to Els Berman, a survey among NOV member organisations shows that eight percent expect they will have to close down completely this year, while 52 percent say they will have to drastically reduce the number of services they offer.
“If you want to citizens to become more involved in society, you need to focus effort and resources on volunteers,” says Ms Berman. “For every euro you invest, you get five in return. Unfortunately, not everybody sees it that way.”
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide