In the event, he has spent the past two years as skills minister at the Department for Education and Skills, but his latest appointment as minister for the third sector in the Cabinet Office brings him back to a department with a wide policy perspective.
"I think it will suit him," said the colleague. "He has a particular brief, but the Cabinet Office will play to that interest he has in wider social policy. He's straightforward, open and perhaps a little cautious - he thinks about things before he shoots his mouth off."
Hope, 52, is a former teacher who was youth policy adviser for the NCVO and head of the young volunteer resources unit - a precursor of v - at the National Youth Bureau before his election as MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire in 1997. He is a member of the trade union Amicus and lists juggling as a hobby alongside tennis and gardening.
His voting record, according to TheyWorkForYou.com, shows he has strongly supported government policies, including ID cards, replacing Trident, foundation hospitals, student top-up fees and the Iraq war.
Kevin Curley, chief executive of umbrella body Navca, said Hope was the right person for the job. "He has good credentials with the local voluntary sector - he understands local infrastructure and the reality of front-line jobs," he said.
Richard Gutch, chief executive of Futurebuilders, said he worked with Hope soon after he entered Parliament and convened a group working on user involvement in the public and voluntary sectors. "He was extremely committed to it and keen to introduce it into Labour's thinking," said Gutch. "I think that chimes with some of the things Ed Miliband has said. He's a likeable, friendly person."
Tom Wylie, chief executive of the National Youth Agency, has worked with Hope for many years. He said: "I think the sector will find him serious, well-informed, interested in what they do and supportive."
Hope has recently been ill with Hodgkin's disease, a rare and curable cancer. He announced on his website in May that treatment had been successful.
Former Home Secretary David Blunkett has been tasked with drawing up a 'mini-manifesto' on Labour Party policy on the voluntary sector, in advance of the next General Election.
When it has been drawn up, the document will be incorporated into the party's overall manifesto, along with 13 other mini-manifestoes, by former third sector minister Ed Miliband in his new role as Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.