Press release

Social Action Fund supports volunteering opportunities in libraries for thousands of young people

Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd recently visited Canada Water Library in Southwark. to meet school children.

12 September 2012

Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd recently visited Canada Water Library in Southwark to meet secondary school children who will benefit from expanded opportunities to volunteer in libraries, thanks to a grant from the Cabinet Office.

The national charity The Reading Agency announced that it is working with local authority library services across the UK to create a “Youth Innovation Network” of librarians who will help generate thousands of new volunteering opportunities in public libraries for young people aged 11-25 years. 

The initiative, which will be delivered by The Reading Agency in partnership with the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) and the Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians (ASCEL), has been made possible following a £127,000 grant from the Cabinet Office’s Social Action Fund.

The Reading Agency, which has many years’ experience of working with libraries to develop national volunteering programmes, will co-ordinate the Network and provide new training and resources for librarians on how to engage young volunteers and run successful volunteering programmes. Volunteering opportunities are likely to include designing new library services, organising author events, reading with children, handing out books at events like ‘World Book Night’, and using library space and computers to tell stories about their community via social media.

Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd MP said:

Through the Social Action Fund, we are supporting organisations that are creating new opportunities for people to get involved and help others. I am particularly keen for more young people to get the opportunity to contribute to their community and develop their skills and confidence.

Miranda McKearney, Director of The Reading Agency, said:

Young people are having a really tough time, so we’re delighted to be able to give libraries extra support to create important new volunteering opportunities to support reading in the community. The Network builds on libraries’ long standing experience of involving volunteers, extending this to build year round volunteering opportunities.  These opportunities will help young people develop their communication, literacy and civic participation skills, and unleash their passion for helping to create a better society.

Aishat Atinsola, aged 15 who volunteers at Canada Water Library said:

I enjoy being a young volunteer, I communicate with the public and children - it’s fun.  I am gaining communication skills and it boosts my confidence.

Seventy-four local authorities have already committed to join the Network to share their experience of working with young people with other libraries and to benefit from extra support.

The Social Action Fund has been created to support the Government’s vision for a Big Society by funding proposals that will embed long term increases in giving time, resources or skills. The funding is enabling established and proven models of social action to scale up and grow, creating new opportunities for people across the country to make a difference in their communities. Over £20 million has been awarded in total, delivered through two rounds. The fund is managed by The Social Investment Business on behalf of the Cabinet Office.

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