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£650,000 HELPS BUILD ACTIVE COMMUNITIES

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A funding package to promote volunteering and community action has been announced by deputy communities minister Ja...
A funding package to promote volunteering and community action has been announced by deputy communities minister Jackie Baillie.

£650,000 has been set aside for the Active Communities Initiative in 2000-01. An initial£330,000 has been allocated following consultation on the executive's draft strategy Supporting Active Communities in Scotland.

This will drive forward the Initiative in Scotland, and encourage greater public involvement by people in the life of their communities.

Speaking in parliament, Ms Baillie said:

'Every person has something to offer their community. If we are to build a more socially just society, we need people to get involved.

'Our strategy aims to put volunteering and community action at the heart of policy and I'm delighted that so many organisations responded.

'A number of issues were highlighted - the need to define volunteering and participation as widely as possible, to ensure that realistic targets are set and progress monitored, the importance of linking with other initiatives. It was also clear that the public, private and voluntary sectors needed to work together.

'I'm pleased to announce an initial package of measures to take this forward:

-£100,000 for Volunteer Development Scotland to establish an Active Communities Development Unit

-£100,000 to promote volunteering and community action among older people

-£130,000 to support the Scottish Employee Volunteering Initiative, training and resources to help voluntary organisations in working with the media, and funding for TimeBank's campaign work in Scotland

'It's important to involve groups traditionally excluded from making a contribution. That's why we'll also fund a feasibility study to examine ways of enabling housebound people to participate in volunteering.

'Across the voluntary sector, the executive is committing£6m to support voluntary sector infrastructure and central initiatives this year because we understand and appreciate the tremendous contribution the sector and volunteers make.

'Many people across Scotland already volunteer, but many more are waiting to be asked. Tapping this potential so that society as a whole can benefit is the challenge we face.'

Ms Baillie also announced that she would take on the role of active communities 'Champion' in Scotland and would report regularly to parliament. A new Active Communities Forum will look at how the strategy is being implemented and advise ministers of progress. Membership details will be announced shortly.

BACKGROUND

1. The Active Communities Initiative was launched by the prime minister in January 1999.

2. Supporting Active Communities in Scotland was launched on 31 January 2000, with a consultation period until 1 May. Councils, other public bodies, the voluntary sector and a range of other organisations were consulted. There were 140 responses - a summary of these is available on the executive's website at www.scotland.gov.uk/publications. An Active Communities Convention was held on 2 March as well as a series of consultation roadshows in Castle Douglas, Dundee, Glasgow and Inverness.

3. The 'TimeBank' scheme is a partnership between charity ONE20, the BBC and the voluntary sector to promote volunteering. People pledge time by 'banking' their interests and availability on a central database - voluntary and community groups match up volunteers with opportunities available. The campaign was launched in Scotland on 29 February 2000. Further information from 0171 415 3300 or at www.bbc.co.uk/timebank.

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