Coronation Street to feature volunteering

Indira Das-Gupta

Coronation Street will run a storyline this summer that focuses on the benefits of volunteering.

The storyline, which will involve the characters Claire and Ashley Peacock, is scheduled for the week starting 29 August and is a massive boost for the Year of the Volunteer.

The Peacocks will initiate a scheme to clean up the local park for children, and will enlist the help of other people living in the street.

The popular soap attracts an average of 12 million viewers per episode, so the development is being hailed as a great coup by Year of the Volunteer organisers.

The idea came about through a breakfast meeting organised by the Media Trust and hosted by Chancellor Gordon Brown.

ITV chief executive Charles Allen was among the key decision-makers who attended the event and pledged to push the message about the need for more volunteering through one of the channel's programmes.

Caroline Diehl, chief executive of the Media Trust, said: "The power of soaps to reach, inspire and involve people is unique, and we are thrilled that ITV has come behind the Year of the Volunteer with such commitment."

The Media Trust is in talks with other channels about the possibility of incorporating similar storylines into some of their most successful programmes.

The makers of Channel 4's Hollyoaks are said to be interested.

Jason Tanner, head of communications at CSV, welcomed the move. He said: "More than one in 10 volunteers make their mark on the environment, from revitalising parkland to cleaning off graffiti.

"We hope that the good people of Weatherfield will be able to inspire even more people to take action on the ground while helping to demonstrate that the nation is full of people who give their time freely."

- For more information, see www.yearofthevolunteer.org.

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