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The Home Office has long recognised that staff who undertake voluntary work not only benefit the communities in which they live and work, but also bring back valuable skills and experience into the workplace. The Home Office also recognises that volunteering has an important part to play in the personal development of staff.
During 2005, the year of the volunteer, the Home Office worked with community service volunteers (CSV) and Volunteering England to promote employee volunteering both widely and among its own staff. This involved a series of talks and presentations from CSV and providing advice to match staff to suitable volunteering opportunities, both individually and in teams.
Following this, the Home Office refreshed and developed its employee volunteering strategy, which now includes:
Allowing up to five days' paid leave (or the equivalent in hours) to enable staff to undertake volunteering in work time. This can be done on an individual basis or as part of a team;
Allowing additional paid leave to enable staff to take part in volunteering in the public service, such as carrying out school governor duties, magistrate duties, etc;
Recognising the importance of employee volunteering by encouraging managers to include it as a personal development activity in the annual staff appraisal system;
Regularly inviting charities and volunteering organisations into Home Office buildings to hold seminars or set up stands with promotional materials;
Having a dedicated volunteering manager to help staff identify suitable volunteering opportunities;
Promoting volunteering opportunities through features in staff magazines and on the Home Office staff intranet sites;
Ensuring that all new members of staff are made aware of volunteering opportunities;
Maintaining active membership of Westminster Time and Talents, an initiative which matches volunteers with opportunities in the Westminster area;
Funding employees to participate in the Prince's Trust Team programme, both as team leaders and team members;
Running an annual programme of up to 50 three to six month funded secondments to the voluntary sector and encouraging staff to maintain volunteering links with those charities at the end of the secondment;
Encouraging staff to take part in two seasonal volunteering activities: Jeans for Genes day and the Westminster City Challenge.