Cultural Playing Field

England Volunteering Development Council meeting by Robin Simpson
June 30, 2011, 3:38 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , , , ,

On Thursday I was in London to take part in a meeting of the England Volunteering Development Council. We heard from Nick Chambers, Director of the Education and Employers Taskforce about the new ‘Speakers for Schools’ scheme which is due to be launched in October. This will encourage inspirational speakers (including politicians, business and voluntary sector leaders, broadcasters, artists and sportspeople) to volunteer to talk to young people in schools across the country. More details at: Sally Knock from NSPCC updated us on the planned changes to safeguarding and disclosures enshrined in the Government’s Protection of Freedoms Bill. These include significant changes to the Criminal Records Bureau scheme, changes to vetting and barring and changes to ‘regulated activities’. The Bill is currently passing through Parliament and is scheduled to receive royal assent by the end of the year. In the afternoon we had the opportunity to hear from the Shadow Minister for Civil Society, Roberta Blackman-Woods MP. She emphasised that the Labour Party is still at an early stage in developing new policies. She said that “volunteering and the whole range of issues around it are really central to our agenda”. The Shadow Minister thought that Labour’s record on supporting volunteering was “pretty good: we recognised there needed to be an infrastructure of support for people who were volunteering”. But she felt the agenda has now shifted with the Government’s introduction of the Localism Bill, its Giving White Paper and the Big Society. On the Big Society she said “I’ve been a volunteer for most of my adult life: this Government didn’t invent the Big Society – it was already there. But we have to acknowledge that the Government has hit on something: people do want to have more say in services delivered in their area.” She concluded by saying “we haven’t got the answers and the policies yet: we are absolutely in listening mode”.

Robin Simpson.

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