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Participation and knowhow in Finland – visibility of voluntarism within the government program

The significance of civic society is clearly acknowledged in the current government’s policy.

A major theme in the policy is to systematically strengthen the opportunities to advance the role of civic society both within Finland and globally. This appears in the objective of “ Finland – bigger than its size”.

The core concept behind commensurate civic activity is a “Safe, constitutional state Finland”. In its third objective “Democracy, involvement and faith in the strength of societal institutions” expresses the focus of advancing the autonomous role of citizen activism:

“Civil Action’s compliant and multiform perquisites nationwide, regionally and locally, are being protected by the government. Civic society’s functions are being strengthened. Inequality is suppressed – repudiated by complicity. Every ones’ possibility for compendious civic action is conduced and autonomy of the participating organizations is protected.”

Furthermore, organizations’ communications will be improved and the administrative burden eased:

“The effect and means of communication will be improved and knowhow in civic societies’ management will be increased. Interfering red tape will be undone and the rules for operating permits will be eased. The unnecessary governmental burden, such as income registry for small organizations, will be examined and promptly removed”.

 Whopping 48 organizations joined Citizen Forum’s government program targets.

The core targets were:

• Updating the democracy policy with the goal of promoting volunteering

• Including volunteering in the activity model for the unemployed

• Increasing education programs’ recognition and acknowledgement of the skills gained from volunteering

The goal for increasing youths’ involvement has been noted in the government program. Improving their participation in volunteering plays a central role. Here Citizen Forum’s and the 48 organizations’ goals are best seen, for the following is written in the government program:

• Communication with youth will be improved by implementing new tools

• Recognize and acknowledge the skills gained and learned from volunteering. Improve cooperation between schools and organizations.

• Reaffirm democracy and human rights education in schools. Minister activities within student organizations. Update democratic policy to recognize youth participation. Initialize needed propositions to validate juvenile law, specifically to palliate the benefits processing.

Citizen Forum’s and the organizations’ goal of including volunteering in the activity model will materialize when present cuts and obligations are dissolved and the respective measures for employment consequences have been resolved.

Also, the government assistant policies will be reformed and clarified. Should the income from Veikkaus-lottery diminish, the government budget will be prepared to support the operation of organizations.

Surely the importance of voluntarism could have been emphasized more alongside the need for organizations. However, the role of volunteering will become evident when the government program is put into action. With this government program we have a good possibility to make Finland the best place in the world to volunteer.

Text: Leo Stranius, Executive director of Citizen Forum

Translation: Pirkko Nurmikko

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