The Malta Independent 23 August 2019, Friday

A commonwealth of opportunities for VOs

Sunday, 30 June 2019, 09:31 Last update: about 3 months ago

On 2 May, the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector (MCVS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Commonwealth Secretariat that will allow voluntary organisations to maximise networking opportunities. The MCVS will run a global ‘information desk’ to transfer good practice and share information. There will also be opportunities to grow through global partnerships and ever-popular international voluntary work exchange programmes.

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In a nutshell, Malta will share its experience and assist in capacity building. Malta’s Voluntary Organisation Act is a solid piece of legislation that can be considered as an example of good practice while it is specifically focused on assisting and incentivising the Voluntary Organisations (VO) Sector to grow. Furthermore, the memorandum allows the export of knowledge in a centralised manner. In recent years, the sector has experienced numerous milestones and this move will provide an expected ‘internationalisation effect’.

In practical terms, there will be training programmes, an exchange of cutting-edge research on the volunteer sector, help for national voluntary bodies to design strategies and reforms across the Commonwealth and access to the funds, grants and partnerships that are available internationally.

There is no doubt that that collaboration with the Commonwealth offers many benefits. The networks will give incentives to voluntary organisations to move out of their comfort zones and venture into bigger projects. Some may join in project partnerships, while others may benefit from knowledge transfer.

Malta may become a hub through which information will flow. We will serve as a capacity centre where information is then processed to our partners around the Commonwealth.

In recent years, the Parliamentary Secretariat has presented legislation to provide incentives and support to further this sector. The VO Act brought more transparency and accountability and gave the sector the freedom to operate. Certainly, networking allows for new ideas, knowledge and capacity.

We should never underestimate the importance of the voluntary sector. The ‘social benefit’ gains cannot be calculated through financial means per se but, to mention just a few ‘positive returns’, there are educational, ethical and cultural benefits. These experiences enrich our society from many humanitarian and social aspects.

 

Ryan Borg

Head of Secretariat for Parliamentary Secretariat for Youth, Sport and Voluntary Organisations

 

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