Press release

Professionals join the Big Society volunteer drive

BT and KPMG today joined the government in encouraging professionals to use their skills to support charities and voluntary groups.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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BT and KPMG today joined the government in leading the way to get more professionals using their skills to support charities and voluntary groups.

The businesses welcomed the first ever cross civil service volunteering initiative that will encourage hundreds of thousands of professionals to volunteer at least one day each year which was announced today by Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude.

Under the new initiative senior civil servants will be expected to encourage volunteering and charities will be invited to directly request specific help when they need it. The civil service has committed to giving 30,000 volunteering days a year.

Sir Gus O’Donnell, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service, today became head of the ‘Civic Service’ as he volunteered to help with training and advice for ex-offenders at St Giles Trust, a charity in Camberwell, south London.

Sir Gus O’Donnell, Cabinet Secretary, said:

The civil service has many talented people who can help to build a strong civic society by using their skills as well as interests to support charities and voluntary groups. And for us, it is a chance to further develop our skills and better understand other sectors. Allowing employees one day a year to volunteer is a realistic commitment that I expect to be widely used.

“It is always humbling to see, first hand, the difference charities like St Giles Trust is making - despite the challenges they face. In extremely difficult circumstances they are making a real difference to the lives of people in London.

“As an economist and a supporter of volunteering, it is also hugely rewarding to see the ‘dynamite’ work that Pro Bono Economics has done in working with St Giles to provide the information that they need to show their real and measurable effectiveness. I am impressed that their clients have a 40% lower re-offending rate against the national average.

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:

It’s a huge boost for our vision for a Big Society that BT and KPMG have backed this plan. These businesses are saying very clearly that they want to do more for our communities and this should be celebrated. I hope many more businesses will reach out to support Voluntary and Community organisations.

Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, spoke to a Big Society Network event in London today and said:

It is in the interests of every organisation to develop the skills of their people. This is about setting a lead.

Helen Simpson, Director, Volunteering, BT Group, said:

BT people have delivered over 37000 volunteering days so far this year and are actively tackling many issues at the heart of their local communities. Our BT volunteers tell us that they really appreciate the opportunity to use their skills to help the communities they live and work in, as well as the chance it provides to broaden and practice the skills so important in the workplace. We wish the Civil Service well as they extend the same opportunity to their people.

Tony Cates, Chief Operating Officer, KPMG LLP, said:

At KPMG we are committed to our communities and this is core to our values. We provide all our people with half a day of firm time each month to volunteer - with over 41,000 hours of time donated last year our people are working in schools, charities and community groups right across the UK - from delivering pieces of pro bono strategic work, to supporting social enterprises and helping a primary school pupil improve their reading skills. We believe that responsible business is good business. We fully support the Government in its move to encourage more civil servants to offer their skills to their communities.

Published 17 February 2011