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21 / 08 / 2004
Overwhelming participation to round off the activities of the 18th World Volunteer Conference

After five days of sessions, the 18th World Volunteer Conference of the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) rounds off its activities today. Representatives from the main public and private institutions collaborating in organizing the event attended the official closing ceremony held in the Forum Auditorium

During the closing ceremony of the 18th World Volunteer Conference, held this week at the Forum, the director general of the Secretary of State for Social Services, Manuel Porras, defended the social role of the volunteer movement and emphasized its role as a driving force for social change. Porras went on to affirm that the volunteer movement "plays a very important role in the democracy creating process within society and takes a stance against social injustices. We should take up the challenge of a new type of Volunteerism opposed to social injustice, a new Volunteerism not based on the economy but rather based on solidarity and justice. Volunteerism is a phenomenon that strengthens and defends democracy; a force for social transformation".

The director of the 18th World Volunteer Conference, Judith Cobe˝a, has called for greater involvement of politicians in the world of Volunteerism. Cobe˝a stated that the Volunteer organizations have perhaps been incapable of putting their message over. The director of the Dialogue pointed out that we should basically have the "common sense" to turn our solidarity, aid, passion and compassion into reality. "I'm convinced that although this concept is difficult to translate into other languages, common sense is demonstrated day after day in the work carried out by volunteers all over the world".

Maria Assumpciˇ VilÓ, president of the Catalan Federation of Social Volunteers (FCVS), pointed out the work done over the last two years to turn Barcelona and the Forum into the best possible venue for holding the World Volunteer Conference. As explained by VilÓ, this has meant "making the voices of the volunteers herd". The president of FCVS went on to thank the interest shown by the media in the activities of the World Volunteer Conference in Barcelona. VilÓ said, "we shouldn't be afraid of saying what we think, we have to make equal opportunities a reality", and then mentioned that the world of Volunteerism has to "demand a space in which we can grow and develop our projects". As president of the Federation, one of the institutions that have been most active in organizing the Conference, VilÓ expressed her thanks for the support received from various institutions involved in the Dialogue.

Lastly, the president of the International Association for Volunteer Effort, Liz Burns, expressed her satisfaction because the event in Barcelona has served to strengthen the virtual global community of volunteers, a network of communities that in reality is the same community, as described in the sessions of the 18th Conference. In particular, Ms Burns emphasized that the event, which has been held as part of the Forum, has made it possible to open the minds of many people to the true nature of Volunteerism. The president of IAVE made special mention to one of the participative activities that have been most successful so far at the Forum, the "141 Questions for 141 Nights", which takes place every evening at 8.00 pm. According to Ms Burns, over the last few days it has provided the opportunity for members of the Conference and local people to come together and share experiences.