Volunteering plan 'in 18 months'

The Russell Commission has said that the national framework on youth volunteering will not be implemented for at least 18 months.

"We must be realistic about how long it will take to implement something as comprehensive and diverse as this," said Jamie Thomas, head of the Russell Commission review team. "It will take at least 18 months to expand Millennium Volunteers, set up a whole new range of taster and part-time opportunities and hire a network of 400 youth volunteer development managers across the UK."

Despite this time lag, voluntary sector organisations are queuing up to implement the recommendations (see box), which Chancellor Gordon Brown welcomed in last week's Budget.

The Media Trust and Timebank have expressed an interest in running the marketing campaign to promote awareness of volunteering, and YouthNet UK wants to manage the online part of a national multimedia portal of volunteering oppor-tunities.

YouthNet UK is meeting Youth Action Network, ChangeMakers and Worldwide Volunteering at the end of April to discuss the merits of putting in a shared bid to run the portal. YouthNet chief executive Fiona Dawe said the charity's own volunteering matchmaker site has "a youthful feel, but a more generic outlook".

Volunteering England confirmed it would pitch for the Investing in Volunteers scheme, which is set to be based on its own volunteer management quality assurance award, launched last October.

It was confirmed in the Budget that the Government will invest up to £100m over the next three years to fund an as yet unnamed youth-led implementation body.

KEY POINTS

- A discretionary fund to help young people experiencing hardship to take full-time volunteering opportunities

- An accreditation system that allows volunteering credits to count towards vocational qualifications such as NVQs

- A full-time national volunteering programme with a £60 weekly travel and subsistence allowance.

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