Community Day holiday would give huge boost to the UK's 20 million volunteers

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date: 26 October 2007

embargo: 00.01 Monday 29 October

The TUC and voluntary sector organisations are today (Monday) marking the longest period between bank holidays by calling for a new Community Day holiday in October to celebrate the work of UK's 20 million volunteers.

The Community Day campaign - backed by the TUC, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), Volunteering England, Community Service Volunteers (CSV) and the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA) - is calling for a new bank holiday to give people a break from work and encourage them to participate in community activities. Community Day will celebrate the contribution that volunteers make to society and help community groups to publicise the work they do.

There are countless ways in which people could participate in Community Day. Activities could include:

Organising a street party

Tree planting or dry stone walling

Volunteering in a hospital

Refereeing or fundraising for an inter-office sports day

Walking a dog from the local animal shelter

In addition to celebrating the work of voluntary groups, Community Day aims to encourage more people to take up volunteering on a regular basis. The voluntary sector is estimated to be worth £40 billion a year to the economy, so a 5% increase in the number of volunteers would cover the cost of an extra bank holiday. Other benefits of Community Day include giving people the chance to learn new skills and improve their health, as well as bringing communities together.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'The UK has fewer bank holidays than nearly every other country in Europe, so there is a huge demand for an extra day off work. Many people would also love to volunteer, but can't find the time because of work and other commitments. A Community Day would give everyone the chance to participate in their local community.

'Politicians are always waxing lyrical about the contribution that voluntary groups make to society. So why not properly recognise their work and give the voluntary sector a fantastic recruitment drive by backing the campaign for a Community Day bank holiday.'

Commenting on the Community Day bank holiday, Executive Director of CSV,

Dame Elisabeth Hoodless said: 'Getting involved in your community can cut

crime, improve our schools, protect the environment and improve health. We

need it now.'

Justin Davis Smith, Acting Chief Executive of Volunteering England, said: 'People volunteer for different reasons. For some, it's wanting to give something back to society in general, or to a service from which they've personally benefited. For many, it's a way of making friends and getting to know new people. And for others still, it's about getting out of the house and improving their physical and mental health. Whatever the reason for getting involved, Community Day provides the perfect opportunity for people to extend themselves and try something new, strengthening their communities at the same time.'

Kevin Curley, Chief Executive of NAVCA, said: ' A Community Day will celebrate the achievements of the thousands of voluntary and community organisations working to make a real difference to their local communities. Day in day out millions of people are tackling poverty and exclusion, improving the environment, providing activities for children and young people and bringing different people together. Community and voluntary organisations change lives, improve neighbourhoods and bring communities together. Lets have a day that celebrates what they do and encourages more people to get involved.

Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of the NCVO said: "A Community Day would be the perfect opportunity for people and communities to celebrate the inspirational work that voluntary and community organisations do throughout the year. By making people more aware of the voluntary work going on in their areas, it would also encourage more and more to engage in community activity to build their skills and, most importantly, help transform other people's lives."

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- Great Britain currently has 8 bank holidays, compared to an EU average of 10.9 days. Only Romania has fewer bank holidays than Great Britain.

- The 2005 Home Office Citizenship survey recorded that 20.4 million people in England had taken part in voluntary activity during the previous month. The survey also estimated that activity generated by the voluntary sector is worth £40 billion to the economy. A 5% increase in the number of volunteers would increase this figure to £42 billion, covering the £2 billion cost of a bank holiday.

- A TUC poll in 2004 found that more than 90% of people supported a new bank holiday, with 40% preferring a bank holiday in the autumn half term.

- A poll on Volunteering England's website asked: What would be the greatest advantage of a community-focused Bank Holiday? 64% responded, 'Increased public awareness of the value of volunteering'; 34%, 'a chance to volunteer'; and 2%, 'a chance for existing volunteers to give more time.'

- To found out more information and sign up to the Community Day campaign, visit www.communityday.org.uk .

- Most volunteer roles will involve induction or training, and others may require a check to be carried out by the Criminal Records Bureau. Contact the volunteer manager at the relevant organisation for more information.

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

- Register for the TUC's press extranet : a service exclusive to journalists wanting to access pre-embargo releases and reports from the TUC. Visit www.tuc.org.uk/pressextranet

Contacts:

TUC: Rob Holdsworth, T: 020 7467 1372; M: 07921 236 972; E: rholdsworth@tuc.org.uk
TUC Press Office, T: 020 7467 1248

Volunteering England: Cat Dean, T: 020 7520 8932; E: cat.dean@volunteeringengland.org

NCVO: Siobhan Wakely, NCVO Press Officer T: 020 7520 2569; M:07894 022 006; E: Siobhan.wakely@ncvo-vol.org.uk

CSV: Paul Donohoe, T: 020 7812 0037; M: 07779 624 385 ; E: pdonohoe@csv.org.uk

NAVCA: Neil Cleeveley, T:0114 289 3954; E: neil.cleeveley@navca.org.uk

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