Civil Society Minister Nick Hurd has said that the European Year of Volunteering is a welcome boost for the Big Society.
Speaking at the launch of the European Year of Volunteering at a Parliamentary reception held today he told the audience that encouraging a spirit of volunteering was a key part of creating the Big Society.
2011 has been designated as the European Year of Volunteering within the European Union, and aims to support the efforts of member states and civil society organisations to create conditions which will encourage the development of volunteering across Europe.
Mr Hurd said:
The Big Society is all about encouraging and enabling people to play a more active part in society, and events like the European Year of Volunteering are an important part of raising awareness of the benefits of getting involved.
In government we will be supporting volunteering schemes throughout the Civil Service, as encouraging employers and organisations to make it easy for their staff to volunteer will play a key part in building the Big Society.
There are so many benefits from employer supported volunteering in both the private and public sector, such as building links between the private, public and voluntary and community sector, increasing staff engagement and offering valuable skills to community groups that I am delighted to be here supporting this event.
Notes to editors
The European Year of Volunteering involves a central programme of activities led by the European Commission, and national work programmes led by member states. The Office for Civil Society in the Cabinet Office is leading activity in England. The national priorities for the Year are:
- Priority 1 - Encourage and enable individuals to make a contribution within their communities and help solve social issues by volunteering.
- Priority 2 - Promote good practice within the private, public and voluntary and community sector in relation to the development of effective employer supported volunteering (ESV) programmes.
- Priority 3 - Identify and share good practice and resources relating to effective volunteer management.
- Priority 4 - Promote good practice in opening the doors to volunteering opportunities to those traditionally less likely to volunteer (e.g. disabled people, those from minority ethnic backgrounds, the unemployed etc.).
The Civil Service Benevolent Fund is one of the largest Benevolent Funds in the United Kingdom. Last year it helped over 7,000 people with financial assistance totalling nearly £4 million, and helped hundreds more people with information and advice.
Volunteering England is an independent charity and membership organisation, committed to supporting, enabling and celebrating volunteering in all its diversity. For more information about their work please visit www.volunteering.org.uk