Volunteer scheme is given £280,000

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A NEW initiative to encourage people to volunteer in their community is to launch in a matter of weeks, thanks to a £280,000 Government grant.

The Neighbourhood Enablers initiative has received the money from the Government’s Social Action Fund, and it will be run by Hastings Trust in partnership with Hastings Furniture Service, Rother Voluntary Action, and Rye Partnership.

Mel Bonney-Kane, executive director of Hastings Trust, said: “It was a bit of a surprise, it was quite a quick turnaround.

“We are absolutely delighted, as funding is quite hard to come by in times like these, but the opportunity to work together is going to be beneficial for all the organisations.”

“It is not just about the individuals volunteering, but there are funds for them to deliver social action projects.”

Launching in March, and running until March 2013, the focus will be on identifying areas of need within the community.

Seven full-time positions have been created, which have all been filled by local people.

Staff will work to identify and train volunteer ‘neighbourhood enablers’ who will be given the support to take action on local issues.

The intention is to encourage grassroots volunteering, and encourage those who would not usually volunteer, to get involved.

Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd said: “This is excellent news, I am sure that they will use the funds well to build local community social action projects.”

In the House of Commons last week Ms Rudd invited the cabinet secretary Francis Maude MP to visit the project.

Mr Maude confirmed that either he or Nick Hurd MP, the minister for civil society, would visit.

Ms Bonney-Kane said: “We think it is really important that ministers are aware of the good work that is happening in the voluntary sector in Hastings and Rother.”

Launch events are to be held during March to provide information for those who may be interested in getting involved.