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Relief agencies soon without helpers?

Witten/Herdecke University and German Red Cross General Secretariat jointly host symposium in Berlin on September 10 and 12.

There is a long list of relief organizations providing emergency aid, such as fire brigades, technical relief agencies (THW), German Red Cross, Johanniter, Malteser, ABS and many others. An acute problem for all of them is the decreasing number of volunteers who form the backbone of such organizations. Christian Endreß, co-organizer of the symposium, gives the reasons: “We live in an ageing society, and the elderly are increasingly unable and unwilling to accept the burdens of voluntary work. Another reason is the abolition of compulsory military service; to avoid the draft many young men had volunteered for the THW or fire brigades. And people need and want to be mobile for vocational training, university studies, and on the job, while an honorary service is something you do in your home town.”

On September 10 and 12, 2012 in Berlin, a symposium on “voluntary work in civil protection” will address the changes and challenges involved. Organizers are the UW/H Chair for Political Science, Security Research and Disaster Management and the German Red Cross General Secretariat. Representatives from agencies involved in civil protection, from politics, academia and social institutions will attend the meeting, which is part of the research project PRI-KATS on priority setting in rescue operations, sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Frank Henkel, Berlin Senator for Internal Affairs and Sports, will give the welcome speech and introduce the subject matter together with Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Lange, holder of the above-mentioned chair at Witten/Herdecke University. Dr. h.c. Rudolph Seiters, former Federal Minister and current German Red Cross president, will describe the significance of voluntary work for society. Undersecretary Klaus.-Dieter Fritsche from the Ministry of the Interior will address civil protection from the perspective of the Federal authorities.

Political scientist Christian Endreß will present a Forsa survey commissed by UW/H on the current situation of volunteers in disaster control. Topics will be how to recruit able-bodied people after retirement for voluntary work, and how to encourage young people away from home to continue voluntary work at a new place of studies or work.  

Other issues will be “voluntary work and society”, “voluntary work and demographic trends”, “forms of voluntary work and recruiting volunteers”, or latest findings and on-going research projects. Adrian Bedoy, a journalist, advertising photographer and UW/H lecturer, will present the nationwide campaign “Deutschland On” with the intention to recruit volunteers and make honorary service more attractive.

The PRI-KATS project covers coordination, management and standardization in the German disaster control system under conditions of large-scale emergencies. The symposium aims to define and analyse future challenges and discuss solution scenarios.

More information: Christian Endreß, christian.endresswe dont want spam@no, phone: 02302 / 926 – 814 (Secr.)

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Universität Witten/Herdecke
Phone: +49 (0)2302 / 926-0

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