On Monday I was in London for a meeting of the England Volunteering Development Council (EVDC) to consider the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Volunteering. Baroness Julia Neuberger, the Chair of the Commission, presented the recommendations to us in detail. One of her main concerns was that the public picture of volunteering seems to be “old women sorting old clothes in a charity shop”: most volunteers don’t think of themselves as ‘volunteers’. As a Liberal Democrat peer, recently appointed by Gordon Brown as the Government’s ‘Volunteering Champion’, Baroness Neuberger was keen to stress that volunteering is currently very high on the political agenda of all parties – a point supported by the EVDC Chair, Tory peer Baroness Joan Hanham. The meeting then looked at how EVDC can help to take forward the Commission’s recommendations. I was intrigued to see that the recommendations had been grouped into three themes: Promotion (focussing on individual volunteers), Creating Volunteering Opportunities (focussing on volunteer-involving organisations and the volunteering infrastructure) and Joined-up Government (focussed on national and local government and the public sector) – which bear a remarkable resemblance to the three aim structure of the Voluntary Arts Network’s new strategic plan (demand/supply/environment).
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