By Madalina Paxaman and Ben Culpin, photos by Guki Giunashvili and Per Bille
Helping the ones in need is rooted in the Danish tradition and so, every year, nongovernmental organizations, corporations and ordinary people join forces in an effort to support various causes. Whether they are contributing with time or money, Danes know that they can make a positive change.
It did not come as a surprise that Aarhus Municipality and Aarhus European Volunteering Capital 2018 called on the residents to participate in this year’s first major fund collection: “Helping children without a home”. While the peak of national fundraising took place on the evening of February 3rd, the initiative ran throughout the month of January. In Aarhus, a special focus was set on children and youngsters with the objective of educating them to be active members of the community. They were encouraged to become volunteers and bake, cook and sell their clothes at flea markets. Kindergartens, schools and after-school clubs managed to raise over 70 000 DKK while nationally, the overall sum reached approximately 79 million DKK.
The work of the volunteers was acknowledged and rewarded in an event broadcasted by Danish national television and hosted by Dokk1. At the same evening as the national money collection, young and old gathered in front of this Aarhus landmark for a torchlight procession aimed at reminding people, once again, that children without a home need help.
With hundreds of millions of DKK raised every year to support international projects, the involvement in various local activities, the constant dedication of Danish volunteers and the good cooperation between the municipality and the civil society has not gone unnoticed and has earned Aarhus the title of European Volunteering Capital in 2018.
Over ninety voluntary organisations from across the city and wider Mid-Jutland region, and approximately 1500 visitors attended the inauguration of Aarhus European Volunteering Capital 2018. The event took place Sunday 21st January at the Ridehuset.
Community and togetherness were the concepts emphasized by the Mayor of Aarhus, Jacob Bunsgaard, at the opening ceremony. With an impressive 41% of people from Aarhus already involved in volunteering projects in one form or the other, the Mayor expressed his desire to improve on this figure, encouraging even more people to get involved in supporting different initiatives.
“Both from today’s event but also from the whole year of being European Capital of Volunteering, I hope that we can see an increase in the number of people in Aarhus that contribute by doing volunteering and by helping others and to create a better, more liveable, more interesting and more caring city.” Jacob Bunsgaard told Jutland Station.
“Hopefully, we can use this as a platform for getting inspiration from all over Europe or all over the world and inspire other cities to have a focus on this. We know from a number of different pieces of research that one of the reasons that people don’t do volunteering is that nobody ever asked them. So we want to ask all the people of Aarhus to be part of an organization or a network that does volunteering. Hopefully we can get more people out doing it, give them the experience of how rewarding it is to do volunteering.”
There is a vast number of happenings and events prepared for the year ahead as part of Aarhus European Volunteering Capital. Debates, sport events, cultural activities will bring people together, reminding everyone that sharing and compassion are the basic principles of our community.
For more information about Aarhus European Volunteering Capital visit: www.frivillighovedstad.dk