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One Year of Federal Volunteer Service:
„No new contracts this year"
Many people were critical when the alternative service in Germany was put out one year ago and, instead, volunteers should take over the same tasks. However, the Federal Volunteer Service functions better than expected.
Doctor Jens Kreuter; © bmfsfj
Even Dr. Jens Kreuter, leader of the team Voluntary Services in the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth is surprised about the unexpected development of the new offer for volunteers.
REHACARE.de: Dr. Kreuter, the first year of the Federal Volunteer Service got off to a surprisingly good start. What surprises you personally?
Doktor Jens Kreuter: Particularly, I am surprised that there are already so many volunteers. This is quite a big stroke of luck because we did not have a lot of time in advance from the decision of the law at the end of March, 2011 up to the introduction in May. We had not expected this huge success. We had decided to double the number of 35,000 volunteers perhaps in some years. But by now, we have together with the Voluntary Social Year already more than 80,000 volunteers.
REHACARE.de: With the good resonance: Is there also a deficiency?
Kreuter: Actually, after the stampede for the places we are not able to finance any new contracts this year which are requested steadily. Moreover, some questions must still be cleared up which do not touch the participant directly but the organisation.
REHACARE.de: As for example …?
Kreuter: It is a great challenge to enable the free seminar days to all volunteers who are entitled to them. These are at least two million seminar days all together. We are very grateful that in spite of such open questions so many places have taken part from the outset.
REHACARE.de: In comparison to the alternative service – what is different?
Kreuter: Above all it is on voluntary basis. And the service appeals to more age groups: at least one third of the participants are older than 27. Further, the volunteers chose the place of action themselves.
Kreuter: We form the Volunteer Service regardless of previous services. By the alternative service the people came, at least, also to touch with the social area who had nothing to do with it before. Nevertheless, we can strike the balance: We live in Germany for one year without alternative service, but we live well.
REHACARE.de: A big change to the alternative service also lies in the fact that people with a disability can become volunteers themselves. There is not an exception like with the military service any more. Is this chance really taken?
Kreuter: In addition, statistical figures are still absent. Therefore, a largely invested evaluation will start soon. However, some cases are known to me and I support this very much.
REHACARE.de: Federal Chancellor, Dr. Kristina Schröder, calls the federal Volunteer Service a „breeding ground for a new culture of voluntariness in Germany“. Do you agree with her?
Kreuter: Of course, I do agree with her! By the great success and the good experiences more and more people get to know how great it is to be involved in an honorary capacity. Concerning this kind of social commitment Germany is leader in the international comparison.
REHACARE.de: Do you still have wishes for the future?
Kreuter: Actually, I am very contented currently. However, of course we want to support the commitment readiness further.
The interview was conducted by Natascha Mörs.