Four questions for Ralph Tiesler, President of the BBK Magazin

The public is not a statistic – volunteering means getting involved 

Millions of people volunteer and help to ensure that clubs, rescue services and organizations such as the volunteer fire department or the THW can function and work successfully. However, it would be important for even more people in Germany to get involved in voluntary work and ask themselves: What can I do? Why volunteering plays such an important role for a strong and resilient society. We asked the President of the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance, Mr. Tiesler, four questions on this topic.


Mr. Tiesler, how would Germany be without volunteers? 
“Well, I think our society would experience much less community and solidarity without the many volunteers. Many non-profit organizations would not be able to exist and I believe that important tasks in the social sector, in sport, in culture or in environmental protection could not be accomplished. That’s why we should always be aware of the valuable work that volunteers do and express our thanks and appreciation to them.”

How do you want to get more people interested in volunteering? 
“We need to draw more attention to the topic and, above all, emphasize that civil protection and disaster control are largely supported by voluntary work. Our BBK campaign slogan ‘No matter what you can do, you can help’ sums it up perfectly: It’s not about finding professionals and specialists for special missions, but everyone has skills that are needed and that they can use for the good of others.”

When we talk about civil protection and disaster control: How can volunteering be strengthened?
“Volunteering must be recognized and valued. One way of doing this is through the ‘Helping Hand’ award, which honors outstanding projects every year and awards them with prize money. At the same time, however, we also need to raise awareness and educate the public about the fact that state aid is organized on a voluntary basis and not full-time.”

Many volunteers are committed to protecting the population. How can this protection be improved in general? 
“We want to encourage citizens to protect themselves and to be able to help themselves in emergencies until professional help arrives. Starting this year, we want to organize a nationwide ‘Civil Protection Day’. The aim is for aid workers and the general public to meet and for citizens to learn important skills for emergencies and planning personal emergency preparedness in a very practical and hands-on way. At the same time, the volunteer organizations can also recruit more young people.”

This year’s “Civil Protection Day” will take place on June 24. Further information can be found here: Civil Protection Day.