Solidarity for Heritage Network

The Network has been established within the framework of the “Solidarity for Heritage” Project, co-funded by the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Union, Strand 2 – Democratic Engagement and Civic Participation, Measure 2.2. Network of Towns.

The project aims at encouraging Solidarity and Volunteering, with main focus on supporting cultural heritage valorization and preservation. Another aim of the project is to raise awareness  of the importance of the preservation of heritage and  to provide tools, policies and instruments for facilitating citizens involvement through  solidarity and voluntary action. Through the process of implementation of the project the cooperation at European level between the municipalities which are part of the Network will be fostered.

The Municipality of Strumyani, Bulgaria is the coordinator of the international initiative and the partners are  Municipality of Agia, GreeceNaxxarLocal Council, MaltaMunicipality of Novo Mesto, SloveniaMunicipality of Caltanissetta;  Association Euni Partners, Bulgaria. The international project will get together the public authorities, citizens, youth, seniors, artists and small and medium businesses, NGOs, cultural and tourism organizations from the six European states, partners in the project.

The partners will focus on proposing solutions for the main challenges voluntary workers, from one side, and hosting organizations and communities, from the other, face.  Within the project we will create a common formal regulatory framework for a  Solidarity4Heritage town, in line with  the European policies in the relevant areas. The project will create a sustainable network of transnational volunteering between the participating cities in order to stimulate further involvement of citizens in policy-making, decision making and social life. The project also foresees the development of the “Solidarity of the Future” white paper to be presented to European, national and local decision makers in order to initiate policy reform for better formal recognition and validation of voluntary service as a valid working/training experience.

Six different events have been carried out during the lifetime of the project, during which a particular attention has been payed to the cultural heritage the municipalities have; the challenges, experience and opportunities for volunteering.

Event 1 Kick-off meeting

Participation: The event involved  over 100 citizens, including 4  participants from the city of Agia, Greece, 4 participants from the city of Naxxar, Malta, 4  participants from the city of Novo Mesto, Slovenia, 3  participants from the city of Caltanissetta, Italy.

Location / Dates: The event took place in Strumyani, Bulgaria, from 07.03.2018 to 09.03.2018
Short description: The aim of the event was to lay the foundation of the network, the rules and principles for management, coordination, communication, evaluation and dissemination. Furthermore, the partners discussed the possible ways for raising awareness of the importance of the preservation of heritage and tools, policies and instruments for facilitating citizens’ involvement through solidarity and voluntary action.

Event 2 Workshop: “Challenges and best practices for conservation and management cultural sites and local traditions through volunteering”
Participation: The event involved  141 citizens, including  8 participants from the city of Agia, Greece, 8 participants from the city of Naxxar, Malta, 14  participants from the cities of Strumyani and Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, 4  participants from the city of Caltanissetta, Italy and 4 participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Location / Dates: The event took place in Novo Mesto, Slovenia, from 13.06.2018 to 15.06.2018
Short description:  The aim of the event was to discuss the challenges which all stakeholders – local authorities, cultural organizations, civil society and volunteering organizations are facing in heritage preservation; to present  good practices related to the cultural preservation by each project partner. Based on these discussions, draft strategies for facilitating citizens and stakeholders’ involvement, as well as volunteering in heritage preservation were drafted.

Event 3 “Tools for Solidarity” round table
Participation: The event involved  141 citizens, including  8 participants from the city of Naxxar, Malta, 15  participants from the city of Strumyani and Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, 4  participants from the city of Caltanissetta, Italy, 8  participants from the city of Novo Mesto, Slovenia. 

Location / Dates: The event took place in Agia, Greece, from 24.08.2018 to 27.08.2018
Short description:  The aim of the event was exploring tools and mechanisms to be implemented both at local and international level in order to facilitate volunteering and solidarity. These include organization, coordination, information and integration actions, necessary to establish a coherent network of local and international stakeholders providing high quality volunteering and solidarity opportunities and placements.

Event 4 “Working and living as a volunteer” workshop
Participation: The event involved  126 citizens, including 14 participants from the city of Strumyani and Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, 8  participants from the city of Caltanissetta, Italy, 9  participants from the city of Novo Mesto, Slovenia and 8 participants from the city of Agia, Greece. 

Location / Dates: The event took place in Naxxar, Malta, from 30.10.2018 to 02.11.2018

Short description:  The aim of the event was the development of standards of working and living conditions for voluntary workers, thus addressing one of the main challenges voluntary workers face. The regulation introduces a unified set of criteria of living and working conditions to be satisfied in order to provide placements for volunteering. It also develops an ethical code for volunteers and solidarity workers, thus setting standards of personal qualities and behaviors required in order to engage in voluntary work.

Event 5 “Together for Solidarity” conference 
Participation: The event involved  185 citizens, including  14 participants from the cities  of Strumyani and Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, 8  participants from the city of Naxxar, Malta, 8  participants from the city of Novo Mesto, Slovenia and 8 participants from the city of Agia, Greece. 

Location / Dates: The event took place in Caltanissetta, Italy, from 25.02.2019 to 28.02.2019

Short description:  The aim of the event was to tackle the challenge of poor formal recognition of voluntary service as a valid working and/or learning/training experience. It gathered relevant stakeholders in order to discuss and draft a joint proposition for policy reforms, needed to achieve a better recognition of volunteering. The event included, experts panels, discussions and gathering of public opinions among the citizens and discussion with decision makers, NGOs, citizens, educational/training organizations etc. As a result a “Solidarity of the Future” white paper was developed and presented to European, national and local decision makers in order to initiate change.

Event 6 Closing conference

Participation: The event involved  212 citizens, including 12  participants from the city of Agia, Greece,

10 participants from the city of Naxxar, Malta, 15 participants from the city of Novo Mesto, Slovenia, 9  participants from the city of Caltanissetta, Italy, 2 participants from Serbia and 1 from Spain.

Location / Dates: The event took place in Strumyani, Bulgaria, from 04.04.2019 to 07.04.2019
Short description:  The aim of the event was to officially establish the Solidarity4Heritage Network, comprising a formal agreement between the participating institutions and organizations, and the regulatory tools and mechanisms developed during the project. The Network initiated policy reform through the development of a White paper with main objective – better formal recognition and validation of voluntary service as a working/training experience.