Malta has a long tradition of volunteerism, whether within schools, charities, youth clubs, religious organisations, and increasingly advocacy organisations, Maltese people have long been willing to give their time to a worthy cause. Yet, no award was ever established to honour the work of the most dedicated of these volunteers. For this reason, in September 2008 SOS Malta launched the SOS Malta Award for Volunteering to recognise the work carried out by those who volunteer with not-for-profit organisations, charities and NGOs.
The award scheme was set up in affiliation with the organisers of the European Trophy for Voluntary Work, the FFBA, so as to provide a Maltese candidate for this established European award.
Through this annual national award SOS Malta hopes to achieve three goals.
First, to honour those outstanding individuals who, for no material gain, dedicate themselves to helping others, or to working for a cause.
Second, to promote general awareness about the Maltese voluntary sector and the invaluable though underrated contribution that voluntary work makes to the community.
Third, to inspire more people, especially young people, to the idea of dedicating some of their free time to working with a voluntary organisation.
Candidates for the award must be nominated by the organisation within which they volunteer or have volunteered, or by friends and colleagues familiar with the candidate's work. A system of nomination was preferred, rather than one where volunteers apply for the award themselves, as it helps overcome the fact that many dedicated volunteers would be unwilling to solicit any sort of recognition for their work.
Please read the following section for a brief overview of the selection process. More detailed information will be provided on making a nomination as we approach each nomination period, usually in September each year.
Preparations are now underway for the 2009 SOS Malta Award for Volunteering.
The Selection Process
Selection for the SOS Malta Award for Volunteering takes place in two stages.
- 1. Nominations, using the form which will be made available on this website, will be received from the general public and civil society organisations. Generally, all nominations must be received by the end of September each year. A precise date will be announced closer to the date.
- 2. One week after the close of the nomination period an independent selection board will review each nomination form and may interview shortlisted candidates. A final decision will be made within two weeks based on certain criteria established by the board, such as the motivation behind the work, self-sacrifice, dedication, effectiveness and the value of such activities to society.
Once the recipient of the award is announced at the awards ceremony, usually at the start of November each year, he or she will automatically enter into the running for the European Trophy of Voluntary Work as Malta's official candidate. A short film will be produced about the awardee's voluntary work and his or her attendance at the European competition will be funded by SOS Malta.
- § Nominees must be Maltese citizens and resident in Malta.
- § Nominees must be at least 16 years old by the closing date for nominations. There is no upward age limit.
- § The voluntary work must be done within a legally recognised association for at least one year by the closing date for nominations.
- § Volunteers active in organisations affiliated with SOS Malta are not eligible for nomination.
- § The voluntary work may have been performed in any field, but SOS Malta reserves the right to refuse nominations on ethical grounds.
Last Year's Award
Eleven eligible nominations were received for the 2008 award by the selection board, chaired by Dr. Alan Deidun. After much deliberation the 2008 SOS Malta Award for Volunteering was awarded to Astrid Vella of FAA for her unrelenting advocacy work related to environmental and heritage issues. Prime Minister Dr. Lawrence Gonzi presented Ms Vella with the award, a cast bronze sculpture designed for the event by Damian Darmanin.
Astrid Vella was subsequently awarded the prestigious Special Jury Prize at the awards ceremony of the European Trophy of Voluntary Work, held at the European Parliament building in Strasbourg on December 5.
The trip and the production of a five-minute clip on Astrid Vella's work were sponsored by SOS Malta in line with its wish to promote the Maltese voluntary sector and volunteerism in general.
Media coverage of last year's edition of the award can be accessed through these links:
Official launch of the SOS Malta Award for Volunteering 2008
Recipient of the SOS Award Announced
European Award: Astrid Vella Wins Special Jury Prize