Youth volunteering body to get £150m

Tania Mason

The new charity set up to implement the recommendations of the Russell Commission will have a budget of up to £150m, the Chancellor announced in his Budget.

The national youth community service scheme, a key proposal of the commission, is to be launched in May and administered by a charity being set up by the Government in partnership with 26 UK companies. According to Gordon Brown, the charity, which has not yet been named, will have a budget of up to £150m, with about £10m provided by private-sector partners.

It will be chaired by Rod Aldridge, who resigned last week as chair of the Capita Group (see page 3), and its chief executive will be Terry Ryall, most recently divisional director at the Prince's Trust. The board will be tasked with commissioning a series of taster, part-time and full-time volunteering opportunities for one million new volunteers over the next five years.

An advisory board of young people aged 16 to 25, dubbed V20, has been recruited to help the new charity achieve this goal.

One corporate sponsor involved in the new charity is Edge, the practical learning foundation set up with the proceeds of Edexcel's 2004 sale to Pearson. Edge is to stump up £1.5m over three years to fund an online social network called Horse's Mouth, where young people will be able to share their experiences of volunteering with others. Andy Powell, chief executive of Edge, said Horse's Mouth would use the internet to "provide a safe and rewarding environment for access to other young people who've 'been there, done that'".

Horse's Mouth is the brainchild of advertising specialist MT Rainey, co-founder of the top-10 UK ad agency Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/ Y&R.

The scheme will be launched this summer.

Further opportunities will be provided through an additional £10m pledged by the Chancellor to the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme, which redresses the environmental costs of landfill by improving the environment in the vicinity of landfill sites. The Government will boost the value of this scheme to £60m in 2006/07, but has issued a challenge to private and voluntary sector partners to use the extra cash to provide volunteering positions for young people on environmental projects.

The Government will also seek to boost corporate community involvement through a responsible business conference later this year.

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