Corporate volunteer scheme set to close

An employee volunteering scheme that has matched 6,000 staff with five charities since 2002 will disband this week after the Government pulled the plug on its funding.

The decision not to continue its support for the Employee Volunteering Partnership is particularly embarrassing for the Government as it comes in the Year of the Volunteer.

The Home Office's Active Communities Unit launched the initiative in partnership with the National Trust, the Wildlife Trusts, the RSPB, the YHA and BTCV with a £140,000 grant in 2002.

The charities must now run individual employee volunteering schemes on scant resources.

"I'm disappointed by the Government's decision," said Caty Collier, volunteer development manager at the Wildlife Trusts. "It does seem odd because volunteering is a Government priority, which it is generally keen to encourage. But we are getting used to the idea that funders only want to fund new projects, which means very good existing projects such as ours end."

She said the decision would lead to a reduction in employee volunteering.

"We will lose the shop window provided by the partnership and the proactive co-ordination of the project manager, who linked the charities and the private sector."

The National Trust contributed £30,000 towards the costs of the project manager, who liaised with 127 companies. It will bankroll a £25,000 post to manage its own employee volunteering over the next 18 months.

The Wildlife Trusts are seeking a corporate secondee to fill the project manager role and publicise the scheme beyond its own website. "Companies will have to do a bit more digging to find out who to contact," Collier said.

Lindsey Allen, project manager of the disbanded programme, said: "I'm producing an exit strategy with resources for the charities to share. The capacity to run such schemes differs at each charity, but the process exists for them to co-ordinate schemes at their own rate."

- Our CSR page will return next week.

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