The European Commission has decided this week to propose that 2011 be designated as the "European Year of Volunteering". The Council and the European Parliament are expected to endorse this proposal by the beginning of next year.
That, on top of the recent publicity around the National Citizen Service further increases interest in volunteering; but we need to get it right.
I was interested in the response of that marvellous charity CSV, led by the indomitable Dame Elizabeth, who I last saw at the NCS launch looking very glamorous (as you would expect at No: 10!).
They point out that instead of the scheme announced (or as well ) Government could have thrown support behind the proposal they have made for young people to make a really meaningful contribution. As they say;
"2010 is a historic turning point and a timely moment to look at nationwide community service in a fresh light. The crisis in care for frail elderly people who would prefer to remain in their own homes; the growing need for support for families under pressure; the alarming drop out rates from higher education and the escalating rate of youth unemployment reinforces the benefits to our young people and to our communities of a year of full-time service for 18 year olds. Finland, France, Germany, Israel and Italy have all taken the plunge. Why not here and now?
CSV has over 47 years experience of enabling young people to volunteer in their communities. As part of a CSV pilot project at Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup last summer young people helped feed stroke patients and others on the wards resulting in patients leaving hospital a day earlier and potentially saving the NHS thousands of pounds.
Across the UK young people are volunteering to help frail older people in their homes, children at school and are helping to conserve religious heritage sites while meeting new people and learning new skills. Young volunteers report increased confidence, self esteem and pride in doing something meaningful and purposeful in the community."
This is a real positive suggestion. So Lord Wei, why not look at how this might work? And how about looking at the brilliant proposals from the great conservation volunteering charity BTCV for a Big Green Army pulling in young volunteers to contribute to a more sustainable UK.
Time you called in Dame Elizabeth and Tom and talk to them. The sector itself should be deciding what works and what we should do. Listen to the sector Government and you may get it right. Pursue your own schemes and you may not. You may have thought up these great ideas while in Opposition but you are now in Government. You need to test them against the knowledge and wisdom of our great sector. And you need to ensure effective funding. You found money for NCS. Look at how to support this.
Let's get this right.
And finally, my "beautiful nieces" (their words) Miranda and Amy are insistent I mention them on my Blog. So I have. The sun is shining down on us in Union Hall. It's a grand day. Fabulous locally caught plaice for breakfast!
Some more photos. Here they all are round the piano. Accomplished pianist, Miranda, at the ivories!
About to go swimming - not me!
At Bantry House and with my brother Nick
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