Year of the Volunteer

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Office – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 31 January 2005.

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Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

The year of the volunteer 2005 was launched by the Chancellor and the Home Secretary on 10 January. Three key aims of the year are to recognise volunteers and celebrate their contribution, to demonstrate the impact and benefits of volunteering, and to increase the availability of volunteering opportunities throughout this year and beyond. In order to provide a lasting and worthwhile legacy of the year, we are taking the opportunity to invest in increasing capacity in the voluntary and community sector through investment programmes such as ChangeUp and Futurebuilders.

Photo of Tom Levitt Tom Levitt PPS (Rt Hon Hilary Benn, Secretary of State), Department for International Development

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer and very much welcome the national year of the volunteer. Does she agree that volunteers have very much to offer and that we are far from tapping the capacity that they have to help our communities? Will she ensure that during the year we look not just at conventional volunteering opportunities but at new areas? I think in particular of the way in which groups of young people, such as those in Glossop in my constituency, are actively involved in volunteer groups that are fighting antisocial behaviour.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

I thank my hon. Friend for that supplementary question. I recognise his wide range of activities as vice-chairman of the all-party group on deafness and as chair of the Community Development Foundation. Of course volunteers have a huge amount to offer in improving the quality of all kinds of services. Members on both sides of the House are involved in volunteering and voluntary organisations in their constituencies, and there is a fantastic opportunity this year to use the energy of volunteers to solve social problems and to find new ways of tackling them. I believe that Members can provide some real leadership in their communities.