The Cabinet Office’s Community Organisers programme needs to recruit another 3,464 community organisers within the next two years in order to reach its targets, according to the latest figures.
When the programme was launched in September 2011, the government set a target of training 5,000 organisers by July 2015 to work in communities to create local networks and encourage local people to take action in their areas. Of the 5,000 organisers, 500 would be paid senior organisers and another 4,500 would be part-time and voluntary organisers.
Under the programme, senior organisers take part in a year-long training programme, with participants receiving a £20,000 bursary. They are then expected to recruit part-time and voluntary organisers from within the local community.
Locality, the community development body that is managing the programme on behalf of the Cabinet Office, has now confirmed that by the end of July 2013 it had recruited 346 senior community organisers and 1,190 volunteers – a total of 1,536 people.
Last year, the Cabinet Office announced it was investing a further £7.5m in progression grants to help senior organisers secure employment after their training finished.
Naomi Diamond, development manager at Locality, said 105 senior organisers had so far completed their training year, and of these 62 had found employment using the progression grant.
She said Locality was still hoping to meet the target of training 5,000 community organisers by July 2015. "We will certainly meet the target for training 500 senior trainee community organisers, and we will do whatever we can to meet the volunteer community organiser target," she said. "We are very optimistic about meeting it, but it is of course highly dependent on how successful the senior community organisers are in their work."
She added that anecdotally that Locality knew that senior organisers were supporting more volunteers than they often reported, so it was working on improving reporting.
Asked whether the 5,000 target was now realistic, a spokesman for the Cabinet Office said: "That is still the target and we’re still committed to meeting it."