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CHANCELLOR LEADS GOVERNMENT, SECTOR AND BUSINESS EFFORT ON YOUTH VOLUNTEERING

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Chancellor Gordon Brown today called for a step change in the...
Chancellor Gordon Brown today called for a step change in the

participation of young people in volunteering, encouraging young

people to do voluntary work as part of their normal lives and

enabling them to do voluntary work in the UK during pre-college gap

years. He spoke at a conference forming part of the chancellor's

pre-Budget consultation, involving the voluntary and community sector

and businesses, coming at the start of 2005 - The Year of the

Volunteer.

The chancellor was joined by home secretary Charles Clarke, chief

secretary to the Treasury Paul Boateng, and economic secretary John

Healey. Ian Russell, chief executive of Scottish Power plc, announced

the results of the Russell Commission consultation on youth

volunteering. The Russell Commission report will be published around

the time of the Budget.

The chancellor highlighted the importance of voluntary action and

mentoring, and called for more people to give up time to help others.

He discussed how to expand the participation of young people in

volunteering, how to extend the scope of mentoring, and how

businesses as well as individuals can be more involved. He also

launched a new guide explaining the tax incentives for corporate

giving.

The chancellor said:

'I believe we have a goodwill mountain just waiting to be tapped.

Building upon the current engagement of young people - three million each

year in voluntary work - we find that a majority of young people aged

15 to 24 year old - 59 per cent - want to know more about how to get

involved in their communities.

Let us set a practical aim: that the majority of young people do

volunteer and that over the next five years one million new young

people become volunteers. And let us now set a national framework:

business, government and the voluntary sector working together to

encourage, enthuse and engage youth in community action.'

Mr Brown's full speech follows (at end)

Mr Clarke said:

'Volunteering enables people to make a real difference in both their

lives and the lives of others in a huge variety of ways, from working

as a mentor to assisting a neighbour do their shopping. Earlier this

month the chancellor and I launched the Year of the Volunteer 2005

which forms an important part of a cross-government commitment to

encourage citizens to give their time to make communities better

places for us all.

'I recognise the important role that volunteering can play in a young

persons life and the Russell Commission is currently working in

partnership with voluntary groups and businesses to identify and

build on what works in UK volunteering. Their proposals will inform

the government's National Youth Volunteering Strategy and I await the

commission's report with interest.'

Ian Russell, CEO of Scottish Power said:

'By responding to the needs and aims of young volunteers themselves,

the national framework aims to make volunteering the norm among young

people and help establish a pattern of lifelong engagement which will

be to the mutual benefit of the individual, the local community, and

Britain as a whole.'

NOTES

1. The Russell Commission was established in May 2004 by the

Chancellor and Home Secretary, to develop a new National Framework

for Youth Action and Engagement. The Framework will help increase

the level of community participation by young people of 16-25 across

the UK.

2. The commission is headed by its sole commissioner, Ian Russell,

Chief Executive of ScottishPower plc. The commission has also been

supported by two advisory groups - an Independent Advisory Group and

a Youth Advisory Group. The commission held a period of national

consultation between 4 October and 31 December 2004, and will deliver

its report to the chancellor and home secretary around the time of

Budget 2005. The commission's website is at

www.russellcommission.org.

3. The chancellor announced the Year of the Volunteer in Budget 2004

which the Home Office are taking forward. It was launched at a

'Local Heroes' Ceremony on 10 January, when 68 Local Heroes from all

over the UK were recognised for their outstanding contributions to

their communities. Through the Year of the Volunteer, the government

will work with the VCS and corporate sector to promote the

extraordinary contributions being made by volunteers all over the

country, in order to recognise their efforts and to encourage others

to participate in these sorts of activities. VCS representatives are

working with the Home Office to devise a series of calendar of events

during the year. The website for the Year for the Year of the

Volunteer is www.yearofthevolunteer.org

4. Evidence suggests that the generous tax framework for corporate

giving is underused. The Guide to Tax Incentives for Corporate

Giving, published today by HM Treasury and the Home Office, aims to

provide business with clear and concise information about the range

of tax incentives available, in order to increase their take up. It

has been written in consultation with the business and voluntary

sectors and is available at: www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/voluntarysector.

SPEECH BY GORDON BROWN, CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER, VOLUNTEERING CONFERENCE - HM TREASURY

Check against Delivery

'Let me start by welcoming you all to the Treasury for this conference

held at the start of 2005 - the Year of the Volunteer.

In the last few weeks the generosity of the British people has been

humbling.

More people giving spontaneously to the tsunami appeal than at any

time and in any previous appeal.

Mothers and young children giving often more than they can afford.

More money raised for a single appeal than at any time in our

history.

Men and women drawn closer than ever together by a shared

determination to help, to care, to heal the wounds.

This concern for others has resulted in£250 million being raised by

the British public for the tsunami victims so far.

And we estimate that after Gift Aid - and the waiving of VAT on the

national concert and record - nearly£300 million will have been

raised.

The facts that are now available show that 81 per cent of the adult

population gave to the tsunami appeal.

I believe that in Britain giving per head amounted to twice that of

the USA and three times that of some of our European neighbours.

So Britain can indeed be proud that the demonstration of sympathy and

solidarity has been followed by a demonstration of financial support

and voluntary action - people responding urgently and generously.

But something else happened which makes me believe that while 2004

ended in the horror of the world's greatest modern natural disaster

2005 has begun in hope - that millions of people can come together

for good.

We have seen the extraordinary power of nature to destroy but we have

also seen the extraordinary power of humanity to build anew.

And not only has money been given but while doctors, nurses, aid

workers went from Britain to the scene of the disaster, throughout

Britain also thousands of men, women and children gave up their

holidays and their spare time to help in charity shops and volunteer

for relief organisations - showing the deep seated generosity of

spirit of the British people.

In Britain today there is no compassion fatigue: in Britain today

there is a goodwill mountain waiting to be tapped.

So in addition to the more simplified Gift Aid scheme which makes it

easier to give and which is worth over half a billion pounds a year,

I can say that we are discussing for implementation, and are

interested in hearing from you today, how we can do more to extend

regular payroll giving to charity especially among employees of small

business. And we are today publishing details on how businesses can

give more easily to charities.

And I sense a new spirit in Britain: that the people of Britain want

this unprecedented demonstration of generosity to be given enduring

purpose.

And I believe at the heart of that enduring purpose is that we make

it possible for more men and women - and especially young men and

women - to engage in voluntary action nationally and internationally.

Already 3 million young people volunteer each year.

41 per cent of young people are involved in formal volunteering and

67 per cent in some sort of informal volunteering.

But we can do more.

So it is appropriate that in 2005 - the Year of the Volunteer - we

now ask how we can do more to convert what have been magnificent

spontaneous acts of generosity from people never before involved in

giving of money or time into lasting commitment to engagement in our

community - and this is the theme of my remarks today.

And so I want today to discuss with you:

* how for the future we can do more to make possible the giving of

time by volunteers - in particular, to deliver a step change in the

participation of young people in volunteering activity;

* how we can help young and older people fulfil their potential by

expanding and extending the scope of mentoring - including by using

modern means of communication to provide access to help, advice,

information and guidance;

* and how business as well as individuals can be more involved in

volunteering and mentoring activity.

In the 1960s from America there was launched the Peace Corps - an

international commitment to harness the idealism many felt in the

face of threats to human progress.

Now here in Britain in 2005 we are considering a new British corps -

with the same objective of harnessing the idealism of young people,

to make them partners in human progress.

Since the 1960s we have seen President Clinton's Americorps and

President Bush's Freedom Corps and today in the United States four

times as many young people have signed up for voluntary work than in

the 1960s.

And just as young people are engaged in national community service in

America and now in South Africa, the Netherlands and Canada - working

across racial and regional lines to build a stronger national

community, constructing tens of thousands of homes, immunising

hundreds of thousands of children against disease, and teaching

millions to read - so too

I believe that a new call to service should be issued to all young

people in Britain - with a new national framework and new

opportunities to engage a new generation of young people in serving

their communities.

And from the Russell Commission - set up by the Treasury and by David

Blunkett last year - which has been listening to what young people

want, working with organisations like many here today that are

already working successfully with young people, is emerging a

proposal for a step change in the numbers of and level young people

engaged in voluntary activity - with proposals to provide nationally

and locally the means by which they find it easy to participate and

to make the experience more appealing, more accessible, more relevant

and more rewarding to them.

And so in this Year of the Volunteer Charles Clarke and I want to

build upon the ambition of the Russell Commission's early proposals.

Building upon the current engagement of young people - 3 million each

year in voluntary work - we find that a majority of young people aged

15 to 24 year old - 59 per cent - want to know more about how to get

involved in their communities.

And this is the goodwill mountain I have talked about that - with the

Russell Commission's recommendations on the way - is waiting to be

tapped.

Let us set an objective: that national youth community service

becomes a feature of the lives of the majority of young people.

Let us set a practical aim: that the majority of young people do

volunteer and that over the next five years 1 million new young

people become volunteers.

Let us now set a national framework: business, government and the

voluntary sector working together to encourage, enthuse and engage

youth in community action.

And let us create new opportunities for national community service

from short-term projects to one year of national community service.

A gap year should not be available just to those whoseparents have

money and can afford to pay their teenage sons and daughters through

a year off from studies.

So from this spring through Project Scotland 450 young Scots will

have access to new volunteering opportunities, including help with

travel and basic living expenses.

Here in England our pilot gap year programme encourages

school-leavers who cannot afford to do so from their own funds to

enjoy a gap year -- a year of service in their own communities. And

more than 250 volunteers have benefited from this programme so far.

But we need to go further - to tap into the enthusiasm young people

have at an early age, to build support for volunteering in the

community, to encourage lifelong volunteering not just a one-off gap

year project.

And in particular we know that young people are keen on two to three

month or part-time volunteering and community service opportunities -

with the finance to back up their efforts.

I know that Ian Russell is talking to the top 100 companies in

Britain and calling for their engagement.

I look forward to the Russell Commission's report in the spring.

And then we will set out how, in direct partnership with the

voluntary and community sector, business and - crucially - with young

people themselves, we can do more.

But why do we believe these volunteering opportunities are so

important ?

I was brought up in the town of Kirkcaldy - the home of Adam Smith

who described in his Wealth of Nations the economic benefits of

markets - 'the invisible hand'- but the same Adam Smith in his Theory

of Moral Sentiments extolled the virtues of co-operation and altruism

- that is 'the helping hand'.

And the community where I grew up revolved not around only around the

home but the church, the youth club, the rugby team, the local tennis

club, the scouts and boys brigades, the Royal National Lifeboat

Institution, the St Johns and St Andrews Ambulance

Society...community not in any sense as some forced coming together,

some sentimental togetherness for the sake of appearances, but out of

a largely unquestioned conviction that we could learn from each other

and call on each other in times of need, that we owed obligations to

each other because our neighbours were part also of what we all were:

the idea of neighbourliness woven into the way we led our lives.

And while some people say you have only yourself or your family, I

saw every day how individuals were encouraged and strengthened, made

to feel they belonged and in turn contributed as part of a intricate

local network of trust, recognition and obligation encompassing

family, friends, school, church, hundreds of local associations and

voluntary organisations.

And while it is easy to romanticise about a Britain now gone, I

believe that there is indeed a golden thread which runs through

British history not just of the individual standing firm for liberty

but also of common endeavour in villages, towns and cities - men and

women with shared needs and common purposes, unitedby a strong sense

of duty and fair play.

There is a strong case for saying that in the age of enlightenment

Britain invented the modern idea of civic society - rooted in what

the Scottish philosopher Adam Fergusson called our 'civil

responsibilities', eventually incorporating what Edmund Burke defined

as 'little platoons': ideas we would today recognise as being at the

heart not only of the voluntary sector but of a strong society.

And this is my idea of Britain and britishness today. Not the

individual on his or her own living in isolation sufficient unto

himself but the individual at home and at ease in society. And in

this vision of society there is a sense of belonging that expands

outwards as we grow from family to friends and neighbourhood; a sense

of belonging that then ripples outwards again from work, school,

church and community and eventually outwards to far beyond our home

town and region to define our nation and country as a society.

Because there is such a thing as society - a community of

communities, tens of thousands of local neighbourhood civic

associations, unions, charity, voluntary organizations and

volunteers. Each one unique and each one very special. A Britain

energised by a million centres of neighbourliness and compassion that

together embody that very British idea - civic society. And I believe

that in future charities, voluntary groups and community

organisations can have an even bigger role in our social provision.

Call it community, call it civic patriotism, call it the giving age,

or call it the new active citizenship, call it the great British

society - it is Britain being Britain. And my vision is of

communities no longer inward-looking and exclusive, but looking

outwards, recognising that when the strong help the weak we are all

stronger. National leadership not seeking centre stage, but creating

space for the neighbourliness and voluntary energies of millions of

people to light up our country.

And this is voluntary action not doing things for people - and

creating a dependency inducing relationship - but doing things with

people, working for the common good. People - over the life cycle

from the cradle to the grave - helped in childhood, helping in youth

and adulthood, helping again - and helped in old age - reciprocity

across the generations - making a reality of Burke's definition of

society as 'a partnership extended over time'.

And we all know the real strengths of voluntary action and

volunteering.

That volunteering is most often about the one to one, person to

person, face to face, help advice and support that is not available

in impersonal or standardised services but where, with the emphasis

on the individual, the person who volunteers can provide solutions

that others cannot.

John Dilulio - former head of the White House Office of Faith-based

and Community Initiatives - quotes a conversation between Eugene

Rivers, a Minister in Boston, worried about his hold on a new

generation of young peopleand a local youth who has not only become

a drug dealer but has a greater hold now over the young people. 'Why

did we lose you?' asks the Minister to the drug dealer. 'Why are we

losing other kids now?' to which the drug dealer replies: 'I'm there,

you're not. When the kids go to school, I'm there, you're not. When

the boy goes for a loaf of bread ...or just someone older to talk to

or feel safe and strong around, I'm there, you're not. I'm there,

you're not...'

So voluntary action is indeed about being there.

And voluntary action, while sometimes conducted through national

organisations, is characteristically local: volunteers working on the

ground, at the grass roots, at the heart of local communities, far

better positioned than ever a government official could be both to

see a problem and to define effective action.

As has so often been said, you do not rebuild communities from the

top down. You can only rebuild one family, one street, one

neighbourhood at a time. Or as faith based organisations often put it

- one soul at a time.

Indeed, in the face of drugs, crime, vandalism and social breakdown,

volunteers - there on the ground, one to one, person to person -

really do matter and make the difference that others cannot.

And so too does the second great strength of those who volunteer -

their ability to identify unmet needs and to meet them.

Long before government took notice, individuals in community action

and voluntary associations saw wrongs that had to be righted - from

university settlements, organisations to help the homeless and feed

the hungry and care for the sick - to, even today, innovations from

the hospice movement and the treatment of AIDS to playgroups, mothers

and toddler groups and volunteering amongst old people.

And through their capacity to innovate, to do new things, to break

new ground, to cross new frontiers, to do what standardised services

often cannot do - to try things out, to work informally, to do things

differently - volunteers and voluntary organisations often change the

way we see things and do things.

And that brings us to the third great strength of volunteering -

never to be matched by government action: that it is in itself an

education in citizenship for volunteers and recipients alike.

Volunteering doesn't just have practical benefits to for those that

give up their time - boosting employability for example - but, as the

Russell Commission has found for young people, it broadens people's

horizons, giving them a chance to experience new possibilities,

develop new skills, gain confidence, build networks that will benefit

them throughout their lives and is thus an education in citizenship.

And even more than that. Those who embark on voluntary action out of

a sense of duty often end up with the realisation that it has brought

a new richness of meaning to their own lives - that in the giving,

they have received in a different way as well.

And because voluntary and community action is so important, we as a

Government have tried to work with voluntary groups, nationally and

locally, to enable them to do more and to make the difference they

want to achieve.

A lot has already been done.

But despite the wonderful efforts of many great organisations, many

people still don't know how to volunteer, where to go, who to ask for

help.

Many don't understand that you can give some of your time without

giving all of your time.

And many - particularly the young - find formal volunteering

complicated and confusing.

And so I believe we must look at new and innovative ways of helping.

In the United States some firms give their employees a week off for

voluntary work. In other places, the expenses of volunteers are paid,

and in some places the tax system works to make things easier. But

often it is not about financial incentives to volunteer, but about

making the connections so that those who need help can link up with

those who want to help.

And I want to set down what we will and can do

First, we need to make information about, and access to, volunteering

easier. Too often in the past we have been very conservative and we

have got to do better. In particular there are huge opportunities

through better use the internet, TV, media, and just local word of

mouth - and I am pleased that earlier this month Charles and I were

able to launch the new Year of the Volunteer website which will

provide information and advice on how to volunteer.

Second, we need to widen the range of opportunities available. Too

often volunteering can be seen as boring rather than exciting; not

stretching or challenging. Indeed, sadly, volunteering remains a

persistently old fashioned concept to many.

Third, we must also play a greater role in recognising volunteering -

encouraging schools to do more and persuading businesses to give

employees more time off for volunteering and better reward the

importance of qualifications from volunteering experience when

recruiting.

And, fourth, we have to examine and then remove any barriers to

volunteering - looking at possibilities such as help with travel and

living expenses, with government and business both playing a role.

And in addition to encouraging volunteering in new ways, I turn to

initiatives to encourage mentoring.

The central element of mentoring is a long-term, personal, one-to-one

relationship in which, over time, the experience and knowledge of one

person helps another to learn and to grow.

It is an approach that is being adopted everywhere from schools to

the career service to the workplace, and for everyone from

looked-after children, to new entrepreneurs, to the long-term

unemployed, and from gifted children to under-achievers.

You might say mentoring is about befriending; about people helping

people and people needing people to make the most of themselves and

be all they can be - bridging the gap between what they are and what

they have it in themselves to become. Giving advice and help on

everything from school courses to careers in music or businesses to

very personal advice on growing up. And while adult mentors are most

common, a young person will often benefit from having another young

person as a mentor, especially one who shares similar life

experiences. And that young person often will go on to mentor someone

else. It is a rare form of volunteering - one that generates its own

recruits.

In one programme for young people at risk in the United States, those

befriended or mentored were 46 per cent less likely than others to

use drugs and 27 per cent less likely to use alcohol. They were also

less likely to get into fights or to be truant from school.

On a smaller scale, we are seeing similar encouraging results in

Britain: Chance UK, a child mentoring scheme, has found that three

quarters of mothers interviewed saw positive changes in their child's

behaviour; four out of five regarded their child's mentor as a good

influence; and over two thirds reported benefits for their own

relationship with their child. Another programme - Roots and Wings -

showed that mentoring can significantly increase the chances of young

people staying on at school.

So for the schools still with no mentoring, new programmes are being

sponsored by both the Home Office and the Department for Education.

Mentoring is also an important component in the Connexions Service -

the new careers and guidance service for 13 to 19 year olds - with

young people acting as peer mentors and role models for other young

people.

And this month Fiona Mactaggart launched a new national Mentoring and

Befriending Foundation, backed up by over£4 million, to help

mentoring organisations expand their activities into communities that

are not yet being reached and create new regional mentoring

information points.

But there is much room for growth, much more to be done.

I wonder, for instance, whether - whilst taking consideration of

child safety issues - we could not explore more innovative ways of

utilising technology in recruiting and training mentors and to link

those who need help and advice to those who can help and advise.

In America the superb site www.mentoring.org provides a modern and

accessible national infrastructure for local mentoring organisations.

And here in the UK, the voluntary sector is already taking advantage

of new technologies - Timebank and Do-it for example are using the

internet to register both volunteers and opportunities and can

connect and match volunteers with opportunities in a highly efficient

way.

In particular, there is a phenomenon that I know is already happening

on-line which I think promises perhaps the biggest and most exciting

new opportunity for the growth of mentoring - and that is the

phenomenon of spontaneous community.

Just look at the success, for example, of the big websites such as

Ebay, Friends Reunited (with 8.5 million members alone), u.date -

using the power of it to create social networks, connections and

affiliations.

On these websites and hundreds of others, thousands of people who

will never and would never meet are finding out that they share life

experiences, opportunities and problems and are entering into

informal, anonymous, often temporary relationships which nevertheless

are deeply supportive and meaningful to them at what are clearly key

moments in their lives.

I have seen connections made and interventions happen on-line that

simply would not have happened in 'real life', either because those

people would never have met to discover that they share a problem,

experience or opportunity, or indeed that they would never have

confided in anyone else to the extent that they do in an anonymous

forum. Effectively they are e-mentoring each other.

And if this phenomenon could be harnessed, made safe and facilitated,

the potential for this type of informal engagement could be huge. It

will teach people that there own life experiences are valuable to

others going through the same thing, thereby making more social

capital available to more people. It will demonstrate that everyone

can give and receive advice and support. And of course it will give

millions of young people a positive experience of social engagement

which could, if captured, provide 'training wheels' for deeper

involvement and a broad scale feeder mechanism for the volunteering

movement as a whole.

I'm aware of a very exciting cross sector initiative that is under

way to launch exactly this kind of 'life experience exchange' called

'Horse's Mouth', and I would encourage you to find out more about it

while you're here today.

And this leads to the final area where I want to make new suggestions

- how we work together to translate the widespread social concern

that exists among employers and employees alike into effective action

for the common good.

There are already good examples of here in the UK.

Businesses like BT, IKEA, JCB and the City Group Foundation who

donated time, money and expertise to the tsunami appeal - indeed in

total companies have given around£50 million to the appeal.

Organisations like Business in the Community, Heart of the City and

the Charities Aid Foundation which are matching business support with

charities that need help.

Initiatives like:

* Pro-help - through which 900 firms have donated their professional

services to community and voluntary organisations;

* Cares - now operating in 21 cities already, engaging 35,000

employee volunteers and ready to expand into new areas;

* Business Action on Education - which encourages and facilitates

business engagement in schools;

* Business Broker Pilots - to get businesses more involved in

neighbourhood renewal;

* Business Bridge - where larger businesses mentor small and medium

sized enterprises;

* Tsunami Promise - which encourages employees to give through their

salary to the charities involved in the reconstruction effort;

* and many more, not least the full range of mentoring projects which

companies have embraced.

But now is the time to look at what more can be done, to scale up

activities, share best practice, and make even more of a difference.

We know from America that corporate giving of money and time can

reach new heights - through organisations like 'Business

Strengthening America', for example, 1000 businesses and 100,000

employees are engaged in service in their communities and in total 35

per cent of us employees give to charity through their payroll

compared to only 2 per cent in the UK.

That is why the Treasury and the Home Office is today publishing a

new guide explaining the tax incentives for corporate giving and

making it easier for business to contribute.

And Charles Clarke and I are today issuing a call to business to do

more with Corporate Challenge - where more than 60 companies have

already nominated champions but much more can be done.

You would expect me to conclude with some remarks about money.

Since 1997 the Government has tried to encourage the giving of money:

* the more simplified Gift Aid scheme which makes it easier to give;

* improving payroll giving by removing the limit on donations,

introducing and then extending the ten per cent government supplement

and promoting the scheme to employers with new grants to encourage

payroll giving amongst small business - which has together led to a

near trebling of payroll giving in the last four years.

In the coming few years our public spending discipline will not

waiver. We will meet and continue to meet our fiscal rules. There

will be no relaxation of that discipline in our election manifesto.

Priorities will be rigorously selected and pursued. And there will be

no short cuts or easy options adopted in the maintenance of fiscal

prudence.

But you know the priority we accord to support for voluntary action -

indeed I know you will be discussing many of these issues in more

detail with Paul Boateng this afternoon - and so with 2005 the Year

of the Volunteer I believe it is the moment also to do more to

encourage the giving of time - for we all know that we need, in this

generation, to encourage young volunteers, new kinds of volunteers,

lifelong volunteers and in doing so to create new volunteering

opportunities and together encourage networks that match those who

can give help to those who need help.

We have tried to work with you on key initiatives - not trying to set

the direction but enabling you, often with seed-corn finance, to

build the infrastructure of caring you need:

* the internet-based database - www.do-it.org.uk - providing

individuals with free and direct access to volunteering opportunities

throughout Britain;

* Timebank - which since its launch in 2000 has matched over 50,000

people to volunteering opportunities in their local communities;

* Community Service Volunteers - with more than 40 years experience

in providing high quality volunteering opportunities;

* and Millennium Volunteers - which to date has signed up 150,000

young people.

But - as I have set out today - I believe we can go further

My late father always said that each of us could make a difference.

We could all leave in his words, 'our mark for good or for ill'.

He said that it was not IQ or intelligence or, for that matter, money

that defined whether you made the best mark in your society.

He believed in Martin Luther King's words, that everybody could be

great because everyone can serve.

So I certainly grew up influenced by the idea that one individual,

however young, small, poor or weak, could make a difference.

Robert Kennedy put it best

'Let no one be discouraged by the belief there is nothing one man,

one woman can do against the enormous army of the world's

ills...against misery and ignorance, injustice and violence' he said.

'Few will have the greatness to bend history itself but each of us

can work to change a small portion of events and in the total of all

these acts will be written the history of this generation'.

And together, across the country, volunteers are ensuring not only

that service remains an honourable tradition in Britain but that as

old person helps young person;

young helps old;

neighbour helps neighbour;

mentor helps mentored;

business helps community;

service can make us a stronger, more caring, more resilient society.

Indeed, I believe we can realise a new greatness in Britain not in

high politics but in the millions of quiet, often uncelebrated, deeds

and acts of kindness courage and humanity of people all over our

country.

And that is why the Year of the Volunteer is so important - an

opportunity to celebrate the achievements of not just those

volunteers here today but all those across the country; a chance to

tell everyone about the volunteering opportunities available and

encourage more people, more employers, more organisations to get

involved as we strive in 2005 to engage a new generation in serving

their communities.'

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