31/01/2005

Chancellor calls on young people to volunteer

Chancellor Gordon Brown has called on young people to become community volunteers.

Speaking at a national volunteering conference to mark 2005 as the official 'Year of the Volunteer', Mr Brown said that he wanted to create an army of teenagers similar to the 1960's Peace Corps in America.

The Chancellor said that his plans would have the same objective of the Peace Corps – to "harnass the idealism of young people, to make them partners in human progress".

Three million young people already volunteer each year, with 41% involved in formal voluntary work schemes. Mr Brown said that he wanted to encourage over a million more young people to become volunteers over the next five years.

In his speech, the Chancellor indicated plans to extend a pilot scheme, where gap-year teenagers received aid for doing work in their local communities. A report due later in the year will detail how businesss and charities can help support the scheme.

Mr Brown also revealed that 81% of adult Britons donated to the recent Asian tsunami appeal – he said that the amount per head was twice that of the USA and three times the amount given in some other European nations. The Chancellor praised the effort, saying: "I sense a new spirit in Britain, that the people of Britain want this massive demonstration of generosity to be given enduring purpose. In Britain today there is no compassion fatigue… there is a goodwill mountain waiting to be tapped."

(KMcA/SP)

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