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National Youth Volunteering Programme

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2008

3. What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the national youth volunteering programme, v involved. (203757)

England’s biggest ever youth action scheme, v involved, started in April. The scheme funds 158 projects to recruit volunteers up and down the country, and 107 teams to support young volunteers and to help organisations to involve young volunteers. Over the coming three years, v involved will create 500,000 more volunteering opportunities. That will help it to progress towards its overall objective of 1 million new volunteers by 2011.

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Will he join me in congratulating the Ingol and Tanterton Action Group, and in commending it for its work? The group is made up of many young people from Preston who are working in the community to develop many fantastic activities such as summer festivals, internet cafés, coaching in sports activities and DJ workshops. They are also working with older people to generate the intergenerational capacity that we need so much in our communities.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and I certainly want to congratulate him on his work as a champion of young people and young volunteering in his constituency. The Ingol and Tanterton Action Group does terrific work, and I want to emphasise that its intergenerational nature fosters better relationships between younger and older people in the community. That can do a great deal to break down barriers, dispel myths and build community cohesion between people of different ages.

When the charity v was launched by the Prime Minister two years ago, it was set a target of raising £50 million from the private sector. How much cash has been raised so far?

The charity v was charged with delivering in a variety of ways the resources that we provide, as I described earlier, and with creating match-funding opportunities as well. Some £75 million of the £117 million that v will be delivering has come via the v involved programme. The match-funding target is some £45 million. To date, v has secured more than £32 million in pledges for youth volunteering from the private sector—well on course!

Is the Minister aware that we have a very active volunteer centre in Mansfield? Part of it is the new Artemis project that deals with young ex-offenders. I hope that he will give that project a fair wind today, and give us some news about its future.

I have some good news for my hon. Friend: the Artemis project in Mansfield is receiving money from v to do some very interesting work on peer mentoring between older young people and young people who find themselves in trouble with the criminal justice system. I think that there is particular value in the one-to-one relationship that that can provide for young people, either when they are in custody or when they leave custody and go back into the community and need support. May I remind everybody that the first week of June is national volunteers week? I hope that every Member of the House will take the opportunity to go to their volunteer centre—my hon. Friend mentioned the one in Mansfield—and offer their services for a couple of hours during volunteers week.

Will the Minister volunteer to learn the English language? What does all this ghastly jargon mean—v involved? It has not even got a capital letter. Will he please get rid of this awful jargon?

I am struck by the thought that some intergenerational volunteering might not be amiss for the hon. Gentleman. “V” is short for volunteering. He will be glad to know that young people are getting cash to support their projects through v cashpoint, are getting involved in local projects through v involved, and are having a great time contributing to building their communities through v teams. Perhaps he might like to go down to his v volunteer centre and offer to educate himself about the contribution that young people are making through those very innovative schemes.