Sometimes life may seem meaningless. Maybe we seek too hard, and in vain, for something special to cheer up our everyday life. Instead of parachute jumps, hot yoga or travelling, we could search for a meaning in life by helping others. Actually, this is what many of us do, besides their hobbies. In a comfortable-size community it is natural to help one’s next-door neighbours. For one in a better condition, what would be nicer than to bring a shopping bag to the grandmother or grandfather next door. To feel that one is an important part of the community makes one’s days more meaningful. And how nice that there is no need to ponder whether you or somebody else profits from what you do.
It may happen that someone in need of help remains unnoticed in our neighbourhood or among our nearest ones. We have become shyer and shyer to offer our help, or to ask for help. ”What will people think of me, if I interfere?” many of us think. It is good to remember that it is not intruding to ask others how they are doing or how they are managing. Not to ask is negligence. In today’s society we have lost that very natural ability to care. How good then that there are organizations which make needs and help meet. If you look for voluntary work, feel free to contact those organizations.
I do not like to think that everything should be left for the system to take care of. Selfishness is one of the greatest mistakes of mankind. Voluntary work is a proof of a will to help and influence; without volunteers there would not be civic movements or organizations. Even as a child, I was taught by my mother to appreciate all people. I learned that living for other people may bring happiness. Even in my present work, it is not the big legislative changes or budget amendments which bring me joy. Feeling good may result from helping a neighbour in everyday tasks.
I have tried to promote this message also in the Parliament. I am the chairperson of the support group for voluntary work in the Parliament. By our own example we have wanted to prove that there will be time for voluntary work, if only we want.
The support group for voluntary work was established in 2009. There is representation from all parliamentary groups. Our aim is to remove obstacles, to contribute to the fullfilment of rights and esteem, to improve cooperation with organizations, as well as to emphasise the importance of peer activities and peer support. We call for attention to voluntary work in big reforms, such as the social welfare and health care or education reforms, or the new Funding Centre for Social Welfare STEA, substituting the earlier Slot machine association RAY.
Cooperation with the democracy network of Ministry of Justice is an important part of our work. We also want to remove obstacles of voluntary work, in cooperation with the deregulation working group, led by Minister Anne Berner. Our active work has impact. We arrange seminars and events and provide information for legislation work. In our latest campaign we wanted to delight people in their day-to-day work with a little gesture, by sending cards to thank them. The campaign was a success, and many MP’s sent tens of greetings to the field.
Text: Anne Kalmari, MP, Chairperson of the support group for voluntary work in the Parliament
Citizen Arena (Kansalaisareena) started municipal elections spring by offering ”Eduskunnan vapaaehtoistoiminnan tukiryhmän” Thank you, you are important -challenge campaign participants the opportunity to write to VerkkoAreena/Nätarenan/Webarena about peer support, volunteer work or civic action in their community.