Stirling is in the running to be named European Volunteering Capital 2020.
The city’s candidacy will be officially announced by the European Volunteer Centre on Monday 2 July.
The competition recognises regions which offer outstanding support for volunteers. Previous winners include Barcelona, Lisbon, London and Sligo (Ireland). Aarhus in Denmark currently holds the title and will be succeeded by Kosice (Slovakia) in 2019. If Stirling is successful, Scotland will be home to a European Volunteering Capital for the first time.
Stirling’s bid is led by Stirling Council, Volunteer Scotland and Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise.
George Thomson, Chief Executive of Volunteer Scotland said: “We want to make Stirling alive with volunteering. We’ll achieve this with a vibrant year-long Festival of Volunteering in 2020 that involves all our communities. We want to capture Stirling’s strong community spirit and the feel-good factor that volunteering brings. Starting now, we’re inviting everyone to #congainto2020 with us and back Stirling’s bid to be the European Volunteering Capital for 2020. Show your support on social media with the hashtag (#congainto2020) and share a photo or video of your own conga.”
The three bid partners want Stirling to be the first area in Scotland where it’s the norm to volunteer and have set an ambitious target of increasing volunteering participation rates to 50%. Currently over a third of local people in Stirlingshire volunteer.
Councillor Chris Kane, Convenor of Stirling Council’s Community Planning & Regeneration Committee, said: “To be declared a candidate city is a wonderful recognition of the sports coaches, the PTA home bakers, the walk leaders, the Chairs, the Treasurers, and the countless other volunteers that enrich the lives of our communities by giving their time to causes close to their heart. Now we must show the judges that Stirling has the potential to do so much more. To be a beacon that inspires volunteers around the continent, to encourage even more people to get involved and deliver a celebration of volunteering worthy of the title European Volunteering Capital 2020.”
More than 100 local and national organisations have already backed Stirling’s bid, including the Scottish Government.
Natalie Masterson, Chief Executive of Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the response so far. It’s great to see such strong support from local businesses, charities and voluntary organisations as well as the Scottish Government. We want people to get behind the bid for the real benefits it will bring to Stirling. The competition is more than about winning a prestigious title. As well as seeing a growth in volunteering, previous winners have attracted increased funding and resources for the training and development of volunteers, have built international partnerships for the sharing of best practice and have seen improvements to the health and well-being of their citizens.”
The winner of the 2020 title will be announced in December 2018.