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An informal atmosphere and a great desire to meet again in person. An opportunity to exchange experiences and network. A common interest in learning more about the realities of Neighbourhood Watch in the different European countries. This is the climate and spirit that characterised the sixth annual meeting of EUNWA.
After two years of virtual meetings, we finally met 'in person' in Venice on October 7th. As in previous years, the meeting was attended by representatives of Neighbourhood Watch associations from several European countries, public administrators, subject-matter experts, representatives of Law Enforcement Agencies, representatives of civil society, and academics.
A different format for our annual meeting
As you may have noticed from the title of the event, 'Awarding excellence: the French case', this year we focused specifically on the French experience of Voisins Vigilantes and Solidaires. This new format of our annual meeting responds to the need for a deeper knowledge of the various national realities of Neighbourhood Watch. Indeed, this format gives the awarding country the opportunity to present its activities in depth and share its national experience with others.
Over the past year, we have been working hard to reconnect with European Neighbourhood Watch associations and re-launch our network. We took advantage of the pandemic to completely rebuild our website, browsing in all European languages, and launched a multilingual online questionnaire to survey the situation of Neighbourhood Watch in Europe.
EUNWA's last publication on the state-of-the-art of Neighbourhood Watch in Europe “White Book”, dates back to 2015. Since then, many things have changed and are still changing in front of our eyes. We, therefore, are planning to publish a new edition of the book in 2023.
This year's EUNWA annual meeting included the Mythos Award event to honour European citizens who have most distinguished themselves in promoting Neighbourhood Watch in their community. This is an event that we would like to repeat annually for each individual country or group of countries.
Where we have met
This year our annual meeting was held at Palazzo Corner della Ca' Granda or simply Ca' Corner. It is an imposing Renaissance palace in Venice, located in the district of San Marco and overlooking the Grand Canal. It is the seat of the Metropolitan City of Venice and the Prefecture.
Ca' Corner was designed by the architect Jacopo Sansovino after afire destroyed the Corner family's previous residence, Palazzo Malombra, in 1532. In 1817 the palace was ceded by Andrea Corner to the Austrian Empire, which placed there the Imperial Royal Provincial Delegation and later also the Imperial Royal Lieutenancy, corresponding to the Prefecture. Later, when Venice was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy, it retained the same destination, which still exists today.
Situated in a prestigious location not far from Piazza San Marco, the palace is characterised by its monumentality, already highlighted by its appellation Ca' Granda (Big House), which breaks the sequence of neighbouring palaces with its prominence.
The event was attended by a large delegation from the French association Voisins Vigilantes et Solidaires, delegations from the Austrian, Danish, Estonian, Moldavian, and Italian Neighbourhood Watch associations, and one from Associazione Nazionale Controllo di Vicinato, representing the various associations and partners that are members of the Italian national network. Also present were municipal administrators, representatives of Law Enforcement Agencies, representatives of social organisations and of the academic world.
Delegates from various European countries would have certainly been more numerous but, unfortunately, due to some organisational and logistical problems caused by the new format of the event, our communication was delayed. This prevented many of our partners from attending the event due to the short notice. We apologise and promise to be much more efficient in organising the next event.
The meeting was opened by the Councillor of the Metropolitan City of Venice, Enrico Gavagnin, who welcomed the participants
and brought greetings from the city authorities.
Then the honorary president of EUNWA, Karl Brunnbauer, spoke, updating those present on the latest EUNWA news, such as the relocation of the headquarters from Vienna to Venice, the new EUNWA website (browsable in all European languages), the novelty of the Mythos Award, the still in progress work to strengthen relations with all our partners, and last but not least, the survey on the situation of the various Neighbourhood Watch experiences in Europe through the distribution of an accurate on-line questionnaire. President Leonardo Campanale spoke next, focusing on the pros and cons of virtual versus real communities and the importance of neighbourhood micro-communities as a basis for the development and growth of strong, free, and cohesive communities. Vice-President Roberta Bravi concluded the speeches, focusing on the importance of cooperation at European level and the importance of public policies on security.
Awarding Excellence: The France case
The Mythos award, conceived by Councillor Enrico Gavagnin and organised by his staff, is an important opportunity to reward European citizens who have distinguished themselves in their communities in promoting and organising the practice of Neighbourhood Watch, and it’s an opportunity for organisations from a specific country to share with other European associations their story, progress, challenges, and the tools they use to promote the project.
The EUNWA Board decided to begin with France, which has seen incredible growth in a relatively short time (one million adherents, second only to Neighbourhood Watch UK which has three and a half million) and has developed a robust web platform to develop the Voisins Vigilantes et Solidaires network that EUNWA is currently studying as a best practice.
In addition to Thierry Chicha, president of VVS, French citizens Jack Cabral and Anthony Delbecq were awarded the Mythos Prize for their commitment to the development of Neighbourhood Watch in France.
The Voisins Vigilantes et Solidaires web platform
The event continued with an explanation, by President Thierry Chicha, of the evolution of the VVS system over the last twenty years and the presentation of its web platform, designed to facilitate real encounters between citizens who join it. The web platform has different interfaces for citizens, municipal administrations, and the French State Police, to facilitate dialogue between citizens and institutions. The platform attracted a lot of interest, and many questions were asked about how it works.
We would like to thank the Metropolitan City of Venice for its hospitality and generous contribution, the Mythos hotel group for sponsoring the event and naming the award, the Municipality of Venice, City Councillor Enrico Gavagnin for conceiving the event and coordinating the support team, the support team itself: Camilla, Sophia, Rui, Maria Cristina, and Fausto, and the guests from Italy and other countries.
Where shall we meet next year?
EUNWA has organised its six annual meetings (2014, 2016 in Austria, 2015, 2019 and 2022 in Italy, 2018 in Greece) mainly in Central and Southern Europe. We are a European network and therefore think it is appropriate to organise the next events in Northern Europe. Applications are now open!
The day after
The following day, October 8th, the EUNWA board participated in the national conference of the “Associazione Nazionale
Controllo di Vicinato”, (the Italian network of Neighbourhood Watch), where public administrators, Law Enforcement Agencies and representatives of Italian associations discussed the topic 'Participatory Security and Horizontal Subsidiarity'.
Download speeches and presentation (EN/FR/IT)
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