I was in London on Tuesday for a meeting of the England Volunteering Development Council, which brings together the volunteering infrastructure bodies and volunteer-involving organisations. This week’s meeting included a presentation by Ben Brown and Chris Hedges from the UK Borders Agency about the plans to include ‘active citizenship’ as an option within the new ‘earned citizenship’ scheme. This will allow people seeking British citizenship or permanent residence to reduce by 2 years the time it will take them to qualify if they undertake a certain amount of unpaid activity that benefits the community. The relevant legislation comes into force from July 2011 but it appears that there is still much work to do on the details. Concerns were expressed about which organisations will be accredited to provide volunteering opportunities that could be counted towards ‘active citizenship’ and whether, if it is primarily larger national charities that are involved, this might be counter-productive for small-scale community volunteering initiatives. We also heard an update from Jean Tomlin, Head of Human Resources at LOCOG, about the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics volunteer programme. The recruitment of the 70,000 ‘games-time’ volunteers will be launched in July 2010 and will be open for applications for the rest of this year. Selection events will be held around the UK during 2011. It was interesting to hear that the initial 10 Million expressions of interest about volunteering at the 2012 Games quickly dropped to 1.4 Million after LOCOG provided further explanation about what will be involved, including clarification that you won’t get paid! I asked how people will be able to volunteer as performers in the Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies and got confirmation that this will be a separate process from the main volunteer recruitment programme. More details will be available soon.
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