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MORE SUPPORT FOR VOLUNTEERS

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Young people from low-income backgrounds are to get extra government ...
Young people from low-income backgrounds are to get extra government

support to become volunteers for a year after they finish school,

college or training.

Education and skills secretary Charles Clarke and home secretary

David Blunkett today announced the details of a pilot scheme which

will give young people an allowance of £45 a week to encourage them

to become volunteers.

Those who take part will also get a lump sum of £750 after

successfully completing nine months of volunteering, and may qualify

for housing, council tax and health benefits. They will also have

meals and travel costs paid for by volunteering providers.

The £5m Young Volunteer Challenge, which begins in May, will

benefit 1,200 young people aged 18 to 21 through pilots in 10 areas

throughout England. To take part, volunteers must commit to at least

30 hours a week.

The initiative is being delivered by the Department for Education and

Skills to encourage more young people, whatever their backgrounds, to

go into volunteering before continuing their learning. It contributes

to the government drive to increase volunteering and community

involvement throughout the country.

Welcoming the initiative, Mr Clarke said:

'The government is committed to supporting volunteering in our

communities. It is vital that we give young people the opportunity to

do it from a young age because it offers them unique learning

experiences which stay with them throughout their lives.

'But we appreciate that some young people may be put off becoming

volunteers because of their financial circumstances. The Young

Volunteer Challenge aims to change that, and offer the right support

to give more young people the chance to help their communities and

develop their own skills through volunteering.'

Home secretary David Blunkett said:

'Volunteering develops the individual, strengthens the community and

enriches the nation. Thi s pilot is clear evidence of our commitment

to increase the numbers of people who volunteer, especially those who

wouldn't normally consider doing so or have the financial means to

give up there time.

'This scheme will offer an opportunity for these people to make a

positive contribution to their communities, while increasing their

skills and giving them a chance of a better future.'

The initiative will be run in selected Education Maintenance

Allowance areas, where there are a high number of young people

from low-income families. Young people who have qualified for the EMA

because they are from households with an income of £13,000 or less

will be able to take part.

NOTES

This Notice applies to England.

1. The government has set a target of increasing community

participation by 5 per cent by 2006. The Home Office Citizenship

survey showed that more than 18 million people in England aged 16 and

over were regularly active in their communities. The challenge is to

increase this number by 900,000 by 2006. This includes volunteering -

both formal and informal - as well as other forms of civic activity.

The Citizenship Survey will be repeated in 2003 and 2005 to monitor

progress.

2. The Young Volunteer Challenge pilot areas will be confirmed

shortly, and will include at least one rural area.

3. A total of 56 Education Maintenance Allowance areas have been set

up since September 1999 to offer incentives and encourage young

people to stay on in education whatever their backgrounds.

4. This announcement provides the detail of the Young Volunteer

Challenge which was first announced in the chancellor of the

exchequer's pre-budget report in November 2002 .

5. The scheme will largely benefit 18 and 19 year olds, although

young people with special needs aged up to 21 will also be able to

take part.

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