'Ambassadors' scheme aims for 500,000 young volunteers

Volunteering charity v will tomorrow unveil a revolutionary plan to use young people as ambassadors to recruit half a million young volunteers.

As part of the Government-funded scheme, which replaces the Millennium Volunteers programme, the ambassadors will also work with voluntary groups in England to create volunteering opportunities that appeal to young people.

Tomorrow, v will appoint a network of regional 'expert teams' made up of between two and six members, depending on the estimated number of young people in each geographical area. The teams will recruit at least one group of ambassadors, made up of between five and 20 young people.

The ambassadors will advise the teams, work with local voluntary groups and try to encourage their peers to embrace volunteering. It is hoped the programme, which will receive more than £75m of funding, will recruit new volunteers from hard-to-reach groups.

"Young people are at the heart of this new programme," said Terry Ryall, chief executive of v. "For the first time, there will be teams of volunteering ambassadors across the country championing volunteering at a local level and advising a national network of people and projects focused on engaging young volunteers."

The programme is based on the principle that successful young volunteering schemes involve young people from an early stage - one of the recommendations of the Russell Commission, which was set up in 2004 to develop a new national framework for youth action and engagement.

In their applications to v, the expert teams had to show evidence that they had involved young people in the design and creation of their proposed projects. They also had to demonstrate that they had links with local organisations.

The funding will be available from April next year, when money for Millennium Volunteers projects will come to an end. V said the new programme "reforms, rebrands and extends Millennium Volunteers".

The name of the new programme will be unveiled tomorrow.

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