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Volunteering, at the heart of the Seniorforce Day celebrations held in the UK, Sweden and Denmark

02/10/2012
Volunteering, at the heart of the Seniorforce Day celebrations held in the UK, Sweden and Denmark

Several countries celebrated on October 1 a Seniorforce Day, an event promoted by the European Commission in the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations to mobilise people 60+ and harness the power of senior volunteers.

In the United Kingdom, the event was held at Europe House in London, where the Age UK's Older Volunteer Awards were presented to 14 seniors, in recognition of their contributions to the charity and their community over the past year.

"These awards celebrate the wonderful difference our volunteers make day in and day out. Age UK has 50,000 volunteers, so it's a special day to celebrate volunteering across the UK and also internationally. Volunteering helps to build communities, which could otherwise be fractured. It is also good for people to do to”, said Tom Wright, the Chief Executive of Age UK.

In Sweden, the Seniorforce Day on October 1 was celebrated with a series of cultural and social activities taking place at the heart of the city of Örebro, which will be celebrating its annual Senior Festival until the 6th of October.

The Day begun a series of performances which gathered around 200 people in the city’s Main Square and gave the mainly elderly audience the opportunity to dance and sing along. The Swedish Red Cross was at the same time disseminating informational material on key contact points for volunteering in the country.

Politicians from the governing and opposition parties then allowed the attendees to directly ask them questions regarding ageing policies and resources available in the country. This sparked a lively debate which later on lead to a speech by Gunnar Ström, from the Swedish Red Cross, who emphasized on the importance of volunteering when it comes to promoting active ageing and improving conditions for the elderly. Mr Ström explained that there will always be issues that cannot be resolved by providing extra financial resources and this is where volunteerism comes in.

In Denmark, members of different voluntary organisations, seniors and political decision-makers gathered in Roskilde to celebrate the Seniorforce Day and Generations Day on October 1. An enthusiastic audience of 100 participated in the event, hosted by Claus Larsen, Chairman of the Committee for Care of Senior Citizens, and Kirsten Feld, Chairman of the Elderly Council.

The programme included the lecture ”Long life in an ageing society – a horror scenario?”, by Bernard Jeune, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Southern Denmark, and presentations of several examples of collaboration across generations and senior volunteering initiatives. Teacher Tove Kjaer Nielsen, for example, told about the Reading Friends project in Jyllinge School, where seniors help children to learn reading, and Erik Hein explained how the kids of the Absalons School teach seniors to use mobile phones and IT.

After the presentations there was time for debate and the exchange of ideas, aiming to bring new innovative approaches to cooperation and activities between generations.

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