Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
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John Denham launches campaign to support more people to volunteer

Businesses were today urged to give more people the opportunity to volunteer for civic roles as Communities Secretary John Denham announced a new campaign to promote the benefits of getting involved.

Many businesses already support employees being school governors, councillors, magistrates or members of public bodies, and preliminary findings from the Institute of Directors show there are real benefits to be gained. A key finding shows 76 per cent of directors noticed the benefit of skills that their employees had picked up in voluntary roles.

John Denham wants more people to have influence and a bigger say in shaping the places in which they live and the public services they use. These include getting involved as members of probation boards, youth offender panels, councils' overview and scrutiny committees, or board members of tenant management associations.

Together with employer organisations, the Institute of Directors (IoD) and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the Government is embarking on a campaign to encourage more companies to give staff time off to do public duties. The campaign includes a new employer information pack. This will help employers understand the benefits of volunteering, what is involved if their staff volunteer, and how it can help their businesses. Case studies on how it has worked for others and information on next steps will also be included.

John Denham said:

"Businesses are facing tough times at the moment but there are still real benefits to be had from volunteering for civic roles. Volunteering brings benefits not only to the individual, but also to employers and their businesses while ensuring communities have better services that truly represent them. This campaign will help employers see those advantages and will make it easier for more people to get involved.

"Public bodies make important decisions that affect our everyday lives. It is important that they tap into the skills and take account of the views of people from the communities they serve."

Welcoming today's announcement, Director General of the Institute of Directors, Miles Templeman said:

"We are delighted that the Government wants to harness the skills and experience of those working in businesses around the country. By informing directors about the benefits of employee volunteering, more people will be able to play a part in the improvement of many key services within our communities. Today's announcement also provides a welcome opportunity to develop greater flexibility in the way that civic roles are practised."

Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, John Wright said:

"The UK's small business sector is ready and willing to embody employee volunteering in a big way. Small employers know full well that a workforce encouraged and able to take part in the great adventure that is volunteering is a workforce that will remain loyal to its employer. Such a motivated workforce is likely to more productive.  Businesses with employee volunteering schemes quickly become employers of choice."

Successful case studies include:

  • KPMG believe that magistrates not only help towards improving the safety of our local communities, they also develop valuable core business skills which are immediately transferred back into the workplace. Currently KPMG provides 21 days paid time for employees to undertake their roles as magistrates.
  • Yorkshire Water allows its senior managers to participate in the Newlands Community Business Club where community enterprise and private business come together to aid business development by sharing best practices, skills and experiences. The programme provides personal development experience for senior managers while community representatives have a greater understanding of the business world and budgetary planning. The scheme has meant that a social enterprise providing day-care facilities and activities for 40 disabled adults and children was saved from closure through the advice and support of the club.

Notes to editors

1. Today's announcement follows a consultation on 'Standing for Office: time-off entitlements' published in September 2008. The Government's response to the consultation is available at: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/communities/timeoffresponse

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