Tom Brake urges students to get involved

February 17, 2011 11:34 AM

Local MP Tom Brake voiced his support for local volunteer schemes this week by throwing his weight behind a motion in Parliament aiming to encourage volunteering among students in further and higher education.

"Volunteer schemes are a great way of not only giving something back but also of strengthening community spirit", he said. "I would encourage anyone with the opportunity to get involved".

2011 has been deemed a landmark year for volunteering. With the London Olympics and Paralympics only a year and a half away, it also marks the tenth anniversary of both the Student Volunteer Week, which this year runs from the 21st to the 27th of February, and the United Nations' International Year of Volunteers.

The Chair for Volunteer England Sukhvinder Kaur-Stubbs said that "volunteering provides the opportunity for students from all backgrounds and cultures to engage with their community in diverse ways, helping challenge and overcome barriers between different groups."

The Volunteer Centre in Sutton places over 800 volunteers in programmes across the borough, as well as providing support for over 450 registered and not-for-profit organisations. Volunteers can be involved in schemes ranging from spending time with older people to gardening for vulnerable Sutton residents.

Chief Officer of the Volunteer Centre Adam Knuckey said: "Students make for incredible volunteers, and bring an abundance of skill, talent, enthusiasm and innovation to the table. I hope many more students will be encouraged to come and get engaged in the future and to help us continue the great work that is impacting Sutton in positive ways."

Last year, the value of volunteer work nationwide to the British economy was estimated at £18 billion, with over 70% of adults volunteering in some capacity or another.

Tom said: "We want to encourage more and more students to get involved in volunteer schemes. Part of our vision is strengthening the relationship between young people and older citizens in our community."

The Coalition has pledged to increase funding for volunteering schemes under its plans for the Big Society, for which Sutton is a pilot project area. Five thousand community organisers will also be assigned to help coordinate volunteer workers more effectively. For more information about volunteering in Sutton, contact the Volunteer Centre on 0208 661 5900.

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