The Volunteering Partnership Forum for England is co-chaired by national heritage secretary Virginia Bottomley and Nicholas Ward, and draws its membership from key strategic bodies and volunteer-involving organisations.
The Volunteering Partnership Forum will take forward in England the work begun by the Make a Difference Team and the Volunteering Partnership.
It will provide advice to the secretary of state on volunteering policy and practice in England. The Forum's first priority will be volunteering by young people and, in particular, the steps to be taken to implement the youth pledge - that by the end of 1997, every young person aged between 15 and 25 who wishes to volunteer will have the opportunity to do so.
'Volunteering is an essential part of any caring society, and is a well established feature of our national life. All over the country there are young people who are willing to give generously of their time and energy, if they are given the opportunity to do so.
'Young people can make a vital contribution to improving life in their communities, and can gain new skills and self-confidence in return. I am determined to help them to do so and I am looking to the distinguished and experienced members of the new Volunteering Partnership Forum to help me in this.
Together we shall turn the Youth Pledge into reality.'