The European Citizenship Awards 2016 are a joint initiative between Volonteurope and European Civic Forum, two European networks which promote active citizenship and recognition of the importance of social justice to the cohesion of communities across Europe. The Awards celebrate the democratic and civic engagement of individuals, organisations, citizens’ groups, media platforms and social enterprises, recognising innovative initiatives and contributions which give real substance to European values, create ownership of public space and improve the lives of our communities in terms of democracy, social justice and universal access to rights.
Since 2006, Volonteurope has run a major European awards scheme: the Active Citizens of Europe (ACE) Awards. European Civic Forum introduced, in 2014, its flagship European Democratic Citizenship Awards. This year, the two networks are joining forces to launch the European Citizenship Awards 2016. The joint initiative comes at a time when the European project is facing many challenges. Through the European Citizenship Awards 2016, the two networks will recognise and give visibility to outstanding initiatives and civil society actors who put European democratic citizenship into practice and have a real, positive impact on the lives of their communities – be it at the local, regional, national or European level.
The importance of ownership and belonging are at the heart of European Civic Forum and Volonteurope’s understanding of European citizenship. This understanding, based upon the Council of Europe’s vision:
- Includes all the aspects of living in a democratic society, such as education, culture, sustainable development, fight against discrimination, integration of minorities, participation of disabled people, gender equality and especially the equal representation of women and men in decision-making processes; and
- Guarantees every citizen and civil society representative – including the most underprivileged groups – the right to take part in the democratic life and the shaping of public policies at all levels.
« Initiatives with a high potential for driving transformative change »
To this effect, we are looking for eligible nominations from all current member states of the Council of Europe, in the following four categories:
- Campaign of the Year: rewarding awareness-raising or advocacy campaigns organised by both informal and formal groups of citizens, including NGOs, with a real and proven impact on community life or public action, and a high potential for driving transformative change;
- Social Enterprise of the Year: rewarding businesses or not-for-profits founded on the basis of social goals, which are written into the enterprise’s vision and mission, the pursuit of which brings in positive social change in communities;
- Volunteer of the Year: rewarding individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to democratic life and to the development of a community or cause, be it through a volunteering role in an NGO or in another form of an organisation or community association (including informal groups); and
- Media Initiative of the Year: rewarding professional media and media-based collaborative initiatives which give citizens effective tools to engage and bring about positive change in their communities; successful media initiatives will have used different tools for engagement and enhanced citizens’ participation, fostered an informed citizenry and enabled the development of a common civic space.
Following the nomination period, open to all according to the rules of procedure, a judging panel meets in order to select four nominees per category, according to precise guidelines. Thus, the winners will be selected through a two-step process:
- Shortlisting of four nominees per category by an international panel of judges;
- Final laureates for each category will be selected from amongst the shortlisted nominees on the basis of an online vote (30 May – 27 June 2016; 50% of the overall score) and decision of the judging panel (also 50% of the overall score).
The winners in each of the four categories will be invited to an Awards Gala taking place on 12 September 2016 at the City Hall in London; the venue for the event – the “London Dining Room” at the top of the City Hall, has been kindly offered by Team London at the Office of the Mayor of London, for which Volonteurope and European Civic Forum are grateful. London has also been selected as the European Volunteering Capital 2016, through an awards scheme coordinated by the European Civic Forum. Therefore, the location of the Awards Gala in the city will make the evening even more special. Volonteurope and European Civic Forum will cover the travel and accommodation costs of the winners.
In addition, the Award winners will be given the opportunity to present their initiatives, projects and achievements during the World Forum for Democracy, taking place on 7-9 November 2016 in Strasbourg. The winners may also be invited for interviews with various European media, thus offering them further opportunities to celebrate their achievements and promote their outstanding work, ensuring that the values upon which the European project has been founded are upheld and respected across the continent.
We look forward to receiving your nominations! To apply, fill in the online form by clicking on the link below. Cant’t find the inspiration? No problem, just have a look at our past winners, it should help.