The coming 12 months have been designated the European Year of Volunteering by the European Union (EU) and as a result 2011 could see an increase in those participating in such work.
A series of events, live demonstrations, activities and exhibitions are being organized throughout the year to mark the occasion, while conferences will explore the reality of volunteering within various member states, in addition to assisting with policy work and initiatives in the field.
The European Year of Volunteering 2011 was officially launched in Budapest, Hungary on January 8th with the EU Presidency and the European Commission attending the unveiling in Millenaris Park.
Pal Schmitt, president of Hungary, and European Commission vice-president Viviane Reding were in attendance, in addition to other EU and Hungarian dignitaries, with speakers advocating the benefits of volunteering and its contributions to society.
Mr Schmitt noted around one-fifth of Europe's adult population engages in volunteer work of some kind and Ms Reding highlighted the positive impact such individuals have on millions of people's lives each day.
She added the European Year of Volunteering 2011 will focus on efforts to reduce red tape that can hamper community efforts and remove obstacles to volunteering in order to achieve a target to double the number of volunteers in the region to 200 million this year.
Randstad Group is playing a role in the European Year of Volunteering by offering its expertise on international volunteering through CSR Europe, Europe's leading European business network for corporate social responsibility. As well as through Randstad’s partnership with Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO), which aims to combat poverty in developing nations by bringing together people to build capabilities, improve international understanding and share skills.
Founded in 1958 and based in London, the international volunteering charity focuses on sustainable development rather than short-term help, with assignments for individuals lasting up to two years.
Through the partnership, employees of Randstad Group can volunteer with VSO for between three and nine months, participating in activities alongside local people and other volunteers.
Placements are available around the globe, with the firm's workers travelling to nations including Namibia, China and India since the partnership began in 2004.
Tineke, an employee of Randstad Netherlands, has been involved in volunteering work with VSO in Indonesia, using her HR and recruitment skills to assist younger jobseekers to find positions.
She stated: "When one of the young people comes up to thank me for my support, which has given her the self-confidence to find a job, I'm very glad I'm here doing what I'm doing."
Meanwhile, Marjorie of Randstad France, who has been volunteering at the People's Rural Education Movement in India, enthused: "A VSO placement is an unforgettable experience that I would recommend to anyone who wants to make a difference."
Randstad, the world's second-largest HR services provider, is also involving candidates and professionals as well as direct employees in its efforts to make the world a better place, with professionals required by VSO in an array of fields, ranging from health and education to business and management.
The organization promotes the potential benefits to individuals of carrying out volunteering with VSO, as well as to the projects they work on, with these including personal and professional development, learning from peers, gaining a different perspective and developing new skills. Interested people are invited to visit the website or contact the firm by email to obtain more information before committing to packing their bags.
With operations in over 50 countries around the world, Randstad is committed to corporate social responsibility and entered into the partnership with VSO in order to "use our core values and our ability to connect people to serve the world's local communities". It provides financial support to the charity in addition to recruitment and selection expertise and providing people to promote its work.
In addition, one of the firm's employees takes part in a working group through the EU that provides policy advice for companies about their volunteering policies.