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Successful events in Slovenia and Cyprus to celebrate the European Seniorforce Day

Successful events in Slovenia and Cyprus to celebrate the European Seniorforce Day

The European Seniorforce Day in Slovenia took place on October 3 in Ljubljana, within the 12th Festival of the Third Age, the largest event for the elderly in the country. The event, which is annually visited by thousands of citizens, included this year three special activities designed to promote and stimulate volunteering among the elderly people.

The central event of the day in Ljubljana was the round table entitled "The Power of Senior Volunteers", co-organised by the NGO Slovene Philanthropy and opened by Aleš Kenda, national coordinator of the European Year 2012.  During the session, Tereza Novak, Director of Slovene Philanthropy, emphasized that elderly in Slovenia undergo more than one million hours of volunteer work. This fact was confirmed by Angelica Žiberna, from the Slovenian Federation of Pensioners' Organisation, who presented the “Elderly for elderly”, the biggest and most successful senior volunteering initiative in Slovenia, launched in 2004 and in which more than 70% of its members are aged 69+. 

Peter Košak, from the Ministry of Defence, presented practices of senior volunteering and pointed out that an effective manner to promote active ageing is through programmes for employees and retirees within a working organisation. Mateja Ušlakar, from the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs, presented several proposals, guidelines and measures which will be included in a new national strategy to promote volunteering among the elderly. Finally, Marta Satler, a long-standing senior volunteer, spoke about her extensive experience helping other people and the main motives to do so.

The Seniorforce programme also included the performance of a group of students from the Improvisation Theatre League School (ŠILA), who in an artistic way stimulated attendees to think about volunteering, and special stand where visitors were able to get materials and individual information about different ways to engage in civic projects.

In Cyprus, the event “Volunteering and Active Ageing” was held on October 3 in Nicosia by the coordinative body of the Parliament of the Elderly in association with the Pan Cyprian Volunteerism Coordinative Council to celebrate both the International Day of Older Persons (October 1st) and the European Seniorforce Day.

The event highlighted volunteering initiatives available for the elderly in Cyprus so as to spread wider awareness on the objectives of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012. Six members of NGOs, aged from 63 to 80, shared valuable experiences from their engagement in volunteer activities. They stressed the importance of these activities not only for the society but also for the individual volunteer. "Volunteering enhances the general quality of life, mitigates poverty and social exclusion, promotes the development of new skills and represents a way of life", they said.

The presentations were followed by a discussion session in which volunteers from different areas discussed matters of great concern for them, such as “the need to pass the knowledge of the senior volunteers to the younger generation”, “how to promote volunteer education in school”, “how to find new ways of engaging seniors in volunteer activities” and “how to maximise the impact of the week 1-8 December which is dedicated to Volunteerism”.  The general concern for the future of volunteerism in the local level under the current economic situation was also discussed and different positions were expressed.

The General Director of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance, Georgios Papageorgiou; the Head of European Commission Representation in Cyprus, Georgios Markopouliotis, and the president of the Pan Cyprian Volunteerism council, Stavros Olympios, participated in this successful event, organised at the Journalists House in Nicosia attracting mostly members of volunteer organisations.