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Dr Mike Nussbaum, former chair of Volunteering England and third sector champion for nearly five decades, has been appointed as chair of the Expert Volunteer Initiative’s national working group by leading welfare to work charity, Careers Development Group (CDG).
The initiative, put forward by the charity, is a Big Society plan to recruit 50,000 skilled, experienced and knowledgeable volunteers across the UK to help people back into work.
With 839,000 people unemployed for over 12 months and 737,000 unemployed 18 to 24 years olds, many of whom are struggling to get onto the employment ladder for the first time, the initiative is aimed at providing additional support than is currently available across the welfare to work sector.
Following Dr Mike Nussbaum’s appointment, further nominations are sought4 for the working group, which will create a national framework that dovetails with the start of the government’s Work Programme set to begin in summer 2011. Following the full establishment of the working group, a ‘green paper’ will be published alongside the showcasing of existing volunteer initiatives in this field.
On his appointment, Dr Mike Nussbaum, said: “I am delighted to be chairing this working group as this initiative will help to build a framework that will change lives. As a person with a visual impairment, I have first-hand knowledge of the difficulties that people face in gaining employment and fulfilling their potential so I know how important an initiative like this is.
“In any community helping one another is the glue that helps those communities develop so tapping into the skills and experience of local people to support their neighbours into work is a challenge I am really looking forward to. "
Roy O’Shaughnessy, chief executive of Careers Development Group, said: “With someone of Dr Nussbaum’s stature and experience taking up the reins, this Big Society initiative is starting to take shape and gain momentum.
“The latest unemployment figures show why this initiative is needed because we cannot afford to have a divided society with so many struggling to get into work when others can lend a hand. We are all responsible for supporting those who are long-term unemployed or cannot get onto the employment ladder in the first place.”
The initiative is not ‘owned’ by CDG, the organisation is providing secretariat support to the working group and giving structure to the overall initiative to keep it moving forward. Recruitment of the six to eight members of the working group will be by open invitation and selection will be led by the chair. The chief executive of CDG will also be a standing member of the working group.
The initiative is ‘owned’ by everyone with an interest in improving society and helping the long term unemployed: the government, the commercial sector and of course the community third sector.
The Expert Volunteer Initiative is a national effort designed to complement the work currently carried out by welfare to work providers, and also to complement or add to similar projects and initiatives already operating across the UK.
Examples of expert volunteers include:
· retired English teachers supporting those needing basic literacy support;
· HR managers helping to build the self-confidence of those who have been unemployed for more than a year, and
· former builders who having sold their businesses and want to help young people learn a trade.