A serious platform for volunteering: free weekly newspapers are the basis of civic engagement

Jens Vollmer, editor-in-chief of SÜWE

They are committed to environmental protection, help the elderly, train children, extinguish fires, combat natural disasters, conserve monuments, and integrate refugees. Volunteers can be found in many areas of life and it is difficult to imagine life without them. In the case of volunteering, free weeklies also play an important role.

It is easy to argue about what defines a country’s strength. It is a pleasure to present economic data or emphasize the quality of social and health care. But isn’t social cohesion much more important? This consistency is particularly reflected in the voluntary involvement of citizens. This is how social integration and individual participation happen, it is the only way for cultural life to flourish, for popular sport to function, and only for the development of social ties. This leads to stable democratic structures and ultimately to prosperity that cannot be measured only in monetary terms. 31 million people, or 39.7 percent. population volunteers for the common good.

Right in the middle, instead of just being there: weekly free weeklies. Week after week, 856 titles with a total circulation of 59 million copies are delivered to households across Germany. Even in the digital age, free weeklies reach the greatest number of people and are therefore important partners for clubs and community institutions – almost no representative of the club or organization manager who does not contact the editorial offices of free weekly magazines week after week to encourage earlier notices, cancellations or reports .

Advert sheet as a forum

While more and more media are turning their backs on sublocal content and relying solely on sensational reports generating clicks, weeklies are still very close and right in the middle of their readers’ lives and their voluntary involvement. Not only larger interviews, reports and portraits, but also numerous small reports, dates and information find their forum in advertising newspapers. It is the editorial consistency of all the little things related to volunteering that has existential significance for those responsible.

While the tone on social media becomes more and more brutal, and the algorithm in particular forces anger as an emotion to generate long ad duration, volunteers find a high-reach platform in advertising newspapers that reports neutrally, in line with journalistic standards. In the era of fake news, such a medium becomes especially valuable.

“Irreplaceable volunteering”

In 2020, a majority of the Bundestag also agreed with the Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU): “Volunteering is irreplaceable.” During the last term of office, it was decided to establish a German foundation for commitment and volunteering based in Neustrelitz (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern). The aim should be to strengthen civic involvement and volunteering, creating framework conditions for the development of involvement – in particular by supporting the creation of networks of entities through model programs, projects and legislative actions. The Foundation treats the voluntary policy as a key task in the field of social policy. It is the task of the state to enable this right to be exercised individually by means of appropriate framework conditions.

The foundation reverted to the initiative of the Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth, the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Construction and Community, and the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture. “Without the voluntary commitment of millions of people in Germany, a wide range of sports and cultural clubs as well as the daily activities of rescue organizations would be unthinkable,” stressed Federal Minister Seehofer (CSU).

Commitment makes you strong

Every year, advertising newspapers are partners of the “Civic Engagement Week”. The Federal Association of German Job Sheets (BVDA) brings together local spreadsheet campaigns so that while there are local variations, the total amount reported for volunteering is in the tens of millions. “Commitment Makes You Strong” is the message.

At the opening of the “Civic Engagement Week” in 2021, then Federal Minister for Family Affairs Christine Lambrecht (SPD) underlined the importance of commitment as an invaluable contribution to social cohesion: “Civic Engagement Week shows great diversity and highlights the high value of voluntary participation. As a ministry of commitment, we are committed to promoting volunteering and strengthening the network so that everyone in Germany can be a volunteer, ”says Lambrecht.

strong structures

Katja Hintze, member of the board of spokesmen of the Federal Network for Civic Engagement (BBE), notes: “The creative power of civil society makes a significant contribution to society as a whole and to the common good: it shapes diversity, for peace and democracy, balances crises, shapes social justice. and offers opportunities for participation. This requires strong structures. The future of our society depends very much on our ability to strengthen civil society in the long term. ‘

Volunteering not only improves the living conditions of people who use volunteering. Volunteering also raises the quality of life of the volunteers themselves, as can be seen in numerous portraits and interviews with local actors in advertising newspapers: It is especially rewarding to facilitate and improve the lives of other people through your own talents and skills. Volunteering cannot be understood as dedication to others, it is rewarded. Gratitude, social relationships, and the feeling of doing good are refreshing to every soul.

More about how advertising newspapers see each other on wir-sind-anders.site.

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