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Strategic Vision for Volunteering

Volume 533: debated on Monday 17 October 2011

The Government have today announced the launch of a strategic vision for volunteering for health and care. “Social action for health and well-being: building co-operative communities” has been placed in the Library. Copies are available for hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office.

The Government recognise that volunteers already make a tremendous contribution towards the health and care services and support within their communities, improving the quality and choice of services available in our country. We want to ensure that this wealth of activity is recognised, celebrated and strengthened and that we nurture and release the capability and capacity that exists within our communities.

This strategic vision for volunteering sets out the Government’s long-term vision for social action, and in particular volunteering, in support of health and well-being. It replaces “Volunteering: involving people and communities in delivering and developing health and social care services”, published in March 2010 and refreshes it to reflect health, public health and social care reforms and the coalition Government’s big society agenda.

The vision highlights the valuable contribution volunteering and wider social action makes to every sphere of health, public health and social care, including prevention, the creation of people-centred and relationship-based services and improved patient and service user experience. It demonstrates how greater involvement of members of the public can help to develop support mechanisms and services that genuinely meet people’s needs, are more personal, strength-based and community-owned.

The strategic vision aims to:

embed a deeper understanding, genuine appreciation and awareness of volunteering and its benefits across all of health, public health and social care;

recognise the enormous voluntary effort that contributes to health and well-being and to health, public health and care services in this country and ensure that this is recognised, celebrated and strengthened in the process of system and service reform;

ensure that services are built around the strengths and assets that people (including those with health and care needs, carers and communities) can bring to them, through volunteering as well as co-production and shared decision making; and

encourage the various parts of the health, public health and social care systems to recognise the value of volunteering in relation to their respective priorities and consider, from a more informed stance, where a more strategic approach and coherent investment in volunteering would lead to improved quality, equity and outcomes.

As part of the overarching approach of Government outlined in the “Giving” White Paper, Cm 8084 the Department will take a facilitative and enabling role in pursuing this vision, working with partners inside and outside Government to: raise awareness of the potential and added value of volunteering in health and care; improve the evidence base for investment in volunteering in this field; and improve access to best practice and opportunities for shared learning.