New volunteering inquiry questioned

Volunteering organisations have questioned the need for the latest parliamentary inquiry into volunteering, due to start in the new year.

The independent, cross-party inquiry into volunteering among 18 to 24 year-olds will be chaired by Labour peer Baroness Morgan and supported by the Scout Association and the All-Party Parliamentary Scouting Group.

It follows the 2005 Russell Commission report into volunteering among 16 to 24 year-olds and the Commission on the Future of Volunteering, chaired by Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Neuberger, due to report at the end of January.

A spokeswoman for youth volunteering charity v, which was set up in the wake of the Russell Commission, welcomed the continuing interest of politicians in volunteering, but questioned the need for another inquiry.

"We are surprised by the timing of the inquiry, coming so soon after the comprehensive Russell Commission report, which included the views of 6,000 young people and over 700 voluntary and community organisations," she said.

"v's subsequent Passions research, published this year, also examined the barriers to youth volunteering, and we would urge those involved in the inquiry to take its findings into account."

Volunteering England chief executive Justin Davis Smith said it was "hugely important" that the Morgan inquiry did not duplicate the work of previous inquiries.

He said Volunteering England would accept the invitation to give evidence, but would urge Morgan to use information gathered by the Russell Commission to address questions that it had not fully addressed.

He said: "She needs to identify themes that are different and add value, such as inter-generational volunteering, volunteering and faith, and the use of new technology such as social networking sites."

A spokesman for communications consultancy Luther Pendragon, which will provide the secretariat for the inquiry, said Morgan was "desperate not to replicate anything that had already been done".

He said the inquiry, which aims to report within six months, was focused on coming up with "three or four" practical recommendations. "The last thing they want to do is to produce another lengthy report," he said.

Individuals or organisations involved in youth volunteering are invited to answer a questionnaire and contribute to a discussion forum on the inquiry's website. Oral evidence sessions will be held from January and contributing MPs will hold regional seminars in their constituencies.

The panel members will be Scout leader Naomi Wilkinson, former chief executive of the National Youth Agency Tom Wylie and politicians James Brokenshire (Con, Hornchurch & Rainham), Andy Reed (Lab, Loughborough) and Jo Swinson (LibDem, East Dunbartonshire).

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