Home Secretary Charles Clarke and Chancellor Gordon Brown today launched the ‘year of the volunteer’. The aim is to increase opportunities for volunteering and to encourage more people, especially youngsters, to devote more time to their communities. It will also help people learn and care about the wider society and democracy of which they are a part. Community Service Volunteers and Volunteering England have each been awarded around one million pounds by the Home Office to run the scheme.Each month of 2005 will be ‘themed’ with a focus on a particular area – for example January is centred on the health sector, February on young people and March on older people.
Health sector volunteering adds quality of life for both patients and health care. Leaders in the sector are being urged to recognise the benefits that volunteers offer in a range of health and social care settings. They are also being challenged to embrace a volunteering culture, and senior managers are being called on to recognise, acknowledge and value volunteer projects more fully. There is also a call for the health sector to tap in to the volunteering culture of minority communities who are typically underrepresented in the formal voluntary sector.
Many people already see volunteering in the health service as their contribution to the NHS. Nowadays volunteers are involved with a huge variety of different activities such as working in Accident and Emergency Departments, fundraising for specific items needed at the hospital, working in the shops provided by charities supporting the hospital and driving people to and from hospital appointments.
A wide variety of opportunities for volunteering in health, youth work and education, to sport and conservation can be found at: http://www.yearofthevolunteer.org/html/about.html