HumanS network was invited to participate in two panel discussions organised on 24 October at the stand of the Serbian Ministry of Labour, employment, Veterans and Social Policy, all part of the programme of the 61 International Belgrade Book Fair. The first panel discussion started at 13 o’clock and its topic was Prevention of Elder Abuse in Institutions. The opening speech at the panel was delivered by Nataša Todorović, HumanaS Network Coordinator speaking about elder abuse as public health and social problem as well as an example of human rights violation. The elder abuse statistics at global level as well as the national level were discussed, some of which were sourced from the studies done by the Red Cross of Serbia, offering some recommendations for prevention of this form of abuse as well. Ms. Todorović emphasised the importance of strengthening one’s social contact networks as a way to prevent and reduce the risk elder abuse.
The second panel started at 18 o’clock and was dedicated to volunteering, again with focus on older people. The title of the panel topic was Seniors Volunteering in the Community – an Opportunity for All generations. There were two HumanaS network representatives: Nataša Todorović and Dušan Zdravković from Adult Education Society. Nataša Todorović opened this panel speaking about volunteering and relying on the rich experience the Red Cross of Serbia has in this area. The speech emphasised that volunteering promotes solidarity but also helps persons from vulnerable population groups visibly contribute to the community which enhances social cohesion. The health benefits that volunteers experience were explained as well as the increase in self-confidence in older volunteers, the will to learn new skills and to expand the circle of their social contacts.
The panel also hosted a group of young volunteers of the Red Cross of Savski Venac and the Red Cross of Stari Grad who talked about the examples of good practice, the numerous instances of cooperation between younger and older volunteers and many things they have learned from older volunteers.
Mr. Zdravković talked about learning communities as an example of good practice that enhances social inclusion and generates stronger ties between generations, leading to a more connected and inclusive society.