HC Deb 29 March 1999 vol 328 cc713-4
3. Mr. Andrew Dismore (Hendon)

In what ways the millennium fund has promoted volunteering. [77370]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Chris Smith)

The Millennium Commission is making a major and enduring contribution to promoting volunteering in the United Kingdom. Its millennium awards scheme is enabling 40,000 individuals to put their bright ideas for community projects into action, and many of the capital projects that it is supporting will provide significant encouragement and opportunities for volunteering.

Mr. Dismore

Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating the 4,000 people who have already received awards, particularly the two from my constituency—one for an environmental project and the other for a family learning project? How does he envisage the fund contributing towards dealing with social exclusion.

Mr. Smith

I join my hon. Friend in congratulating all the millennium award winners on their work in developing their skills and giving something back to their community in the process. The aim is that 40,000 individuals will be assisted in that over the next five years. There are also many initiatives in the capital projects funded by the commission. The commission has granted £22 million to the changing places scheme, which is an umbrella scheme incorporating 21 community projects in England and Wales that will reclaim wasteland and enhance local environments. It relies heavily on local volunteers and 70,000 are expected to contribute to the project, which will make a major contribution towards tackling social exclusion.

Mr. Tony Baldry (Banbury)

The Secretary of State will be aware that the Department for Education and Employment is also producing what appears to be an excellent scheme on millennium volunteers. Will it be possible to produce a directory of the many worthwhile millennium initiatives for use by Members of Parliament, local councillors, citizens advice bureaux and others? It is also important to know the local contact points for such schemes. The millennium volunteers project is a great idea, but it will not be great in practice if people do not know with whom to get in touch.

Mr. Smith

The hon. Gentleman's point about the millennium volunteers programme will be fully addressed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment. We are working closely with him and the Millennium Commission to ensure that all the initiatives are properly co-ordinated and that detailed information is available. The millennium voyager bus is going around the country—it has recently visited Birmingham—full of information about what is happening in each area, how to contact the organisations involved and what is planned for the millennium year.