XX Volunteering meeting in the oncological field: rejuvenating the profile and adapting to the new social reality, future challenges of volunteering

The Volunteer Meeting in the oncological field, organized every year by the Catalan Federation Against Cancer (FECEC), has celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. With the slogan, “20 years together!” nearly 150 volunteers from the federated entities met on Saturday 25 May at the Ciutadella Campus of the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) to commemorate the two decades of this meeting.

The meeting, led by the journalist from 3Cat, Ignasi Gaya, has served to to thank the work of the collective of volunteers who dedicate their time altruistically to improving the quality of life of people with cancer and their families; to socially recognize their importance as a fundamental pillar in psycho-care of people with cancer and their families and caregivers, together with the professionals of the entities; and as a space for to strengthen the nexus of union and feeling of belongingof volunteering in the oncological field.

At the inauguration of the authorities, the president of FECEC, M. Assumpció Vilà,, highlighted the future challenges of volunteering: the need for the profile of oncological volunteering to be rejuvenated, but also to adapt to the new social reality. “We must ensure that the availability of volunteers and the need to give them time flexibility is compatible with the 4 basic pillars of volunteering, which are altruism, cohesion, commitment and motivation,” said Vilà.

Subsequently, the Councilor for Health, People with Disabilities and Strategy against Loneliness of theBarcelona City Council, Marta Villanueva, has highlighted the importance ofcare for people with cancer). “You make it possible for the universal right of care to be possible,” said the councilor, who also thanked the altruistic work of volunteers in the oncological field.

Next, the deputy of the Department of Commerce, Consumer Affairs and Public Health of the Diputació de Barcelona, Samuel Núñez, has highlighted that volunteering isthe backbone and essential element of the psychosocial care of patients. “It is a solid pillar for caring for people with cancer,” said Núñez. The Member also thanked the FECEC for its work, not only in its psychosocial support for people with cancer, but also for the work it does to prevent and disseminate the disease.

Finally, the Minister of Salut of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Manel Balcells, stressed that although cancer, in the future, becomes a chronic disease, the work of volunteering will continue to be necessary. “Volunteering is not medicine, it is humanity. Institutions must help you, but also thank you for your necessary and complementary work to the advances of medicine,” said the Minister.

Volunteering Meeting in the oncological field: 20 years of history

The Volunteer Meeting in the field of oncology was born in 2005. In these 20 years that the FECEC Junts contra el Càncer has been holding the meeting, nearly 200 people have gathered each year to share their experiences and solidarity. The Volunteer Meeting was held uninterruptedly, even online in the two years where the pandemic did not allow the meeting to be face-to-face.

During these two decades, volunteers have had a space where they can share their experiences with other people in the field, train with renowned workshop owners and motivate themselves to continue exercising their valuable work selflessly towards people who are going through an oncological process.

Past, present and future, and the importance of the basic pillars of volunteering

The XX Meeting has had 4 inspirational talks to review the evolution of volunteering in the last 20 years and the challenges of the future: Past, present and future of volunteering, by Anna Varderi, manager of the Enriqueta Villavecchia Foundation and vice president of FECEC; From renaissance to volunteering: a personal metamorphosis, by Xavier Puig, volunteer Fundació Oncolliga Barcelona; Volunteering experiences, by Anna Puigpiqué, Enriqueta Villavecchia Foundation volunteer and Anton Vila volunteer League against Cancer of Tarragona and the Terres de the Ebro; and Beyond commitment: awakening passion for volunteering, by Miquel Antonijuan, expert in vocational guidance and director of Norte Ikigai.

The meeting also featured an art therapy workshop to work with the attendees “The pillars of volunteering: altruism, cohesion, commitment and motivation”.The workshop was given by the professional art therapy association Grefart, and its objective was to reflect and reinforce these fundamental pillars that support volunteering through the creative abilities of the participants.

This year’s closing was very emotional and full of surprises: a video reviewed the 20-year history of the Meeting and 4 volunteers from the organizations brought the cake for all the people present to blow the candles The meeting ended with a fraternity lunch with those attending the event.

The XX Volunteer Meeting in the field of oncology has had the support of Department of Social Rights of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Diputació de Barcelonaand Johnson & Johnson.