Written Answers. - UN International Year of Volunteers.

John Gormley

Question:

736 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if he has received correspondence dated 31 May 2000 from the Carmichael Centre, Dublin 7, in relation to the United Nations International Year of Volunteers; if he will respond to the issues raised in that letter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19424/00]

John McGuinness

Question:

758 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the plan, if any, in place to mark 2001 as the United Nations International Year of Volunteers; if he has received a submission from the Carmichael Centre offering office space and assistance with the employment of any staff for the year here; if so, if a reply has been issued; the budget which has been set aside for this year project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19914/00]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 736 and 758 together.

The General Assembly of the United Nations has proclaimed 2001 as the International year of Volunteers known as IYV 2001. The year is designed to enhance recognition, facilitation, networking and promotion of volunteer service.

The intended outcome of the year are that more needs be identified with which volunteers can help, that more people everywhere offer their services as volunteers; and volunteer programmes receive increased resources and facilities, to help them assign those new volunteers to tackling the needs.

In such a year all can gain. Individuals can find a renewed sense of purpose. Volunteer groups can be reinvigorated. Governments and the non-profit and private sectors can enter into fresh partnerships to make for greater participation, alleviate problems and promote good governance.
The UN year of the volunteer will provide a focus for activity to support the volunteering movement. The Programme for Prosperity and Fairness provides that a national committee on volunteering will be established to devise strategies and actions for supporting and developing volunteering.
I am currently in the process of establishing this committee which will co-ordinate activities during the year. The offer of office space and assistance with the employment of staff made by the Carmichael Centre will be considered as part of this process. The first task for the committee will be to agree a broad strategy for the year and draw up an initial plan of action. Membership of the national committee on volunteering will be drawn from the statutory and voluntary sector and will include a significant number of volunteers.
The recently launched White Paper, Supporting Voluntary Activity, emphasises the need to promote the active involvement of people in community and voluntary groups as an essential component of a democratic society and outlines a number of measures to support volunteering. In this regard, the white paper announced a budget of £1 million for the national committee to develop initiatives to further support and develop volunteering.
Question No. 737 taken with Question No. 156.