I beg to move,
That this House
has considered connecting communities by supporting charities and volunteers.
I am delighted that the House has this opportunity to discuss a subject so close to the nation’s heart: charities and volunteers. I am sure that everyone across the House will agree that these incredible people and organisations are the bold, brave, beating heart of our communities. And they are not alone. They work alongside the social enterprises, mutuals, community groups and socially responsible businesses that help to make up our civil society.
This country’s civil society is a force to be reckoned with. It has a proud heritage and is admired across the globe. It is everything from a voice for the voiceless to an incubator for innovation. It provides a space for us to display the very best of ourselves and a desire to help and support others. We all know of superhuman efforts that people have made in our constituencies and communities on behalf of charities—running, skydiving, sponsored swims, sponsored silences, with groups, individuals and children all raising millions, thousands or hundreds of pounds for causes they care about.
Only a few years ago, the eyes of the world were on London for the Paralympic and Olympic games. People were amazed by the athletic achievement, but what also made an impact on millions of people were those who came from our shores: our volunteers, the games makers, selflessly giving their time, energy and expertise so that others could have a brighter and better future and an enjoyable time.
We will see that again: with Birmingham 2222, the Commonwealth games, on the horizon, we have a chance to do it all again. Our experience, in London 2012 and beyond, has shown that we can create the right opportunities and environment for volunteers. They will come and step up to the challenge. That energy and that sense of momentum are vital if we are to continue to have a happier and healthier society.
What is the Government’s vision for civil society? Three elements are particularly important to me as we chart this new path. The first is the building of communities that are connected: tackling loneliness, helping people to feel attached to the places where they live and empowering people of all ages to build an even better society. The second is the establishment of a socially responsible business and finance sector that can act as an even greater force for good in our society and tackle, creatively, some of its most entrenched problems.