HC Deb 29 November 2000 vol 357 cc671-2W
23. Mr. Connarty

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what progress she has made in arrangements for the non-sports initiatives for the Commonwealth games in 2002. [139203]

Mr. Ian McCartney

The Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games will be the biggest multi-sport event ever hosted in Britain. They will take place during the Queen's Golden Jubilee year, a fact which is likely to give the event special significance nationally and internationally. This Government place great importance on the need for the Games to be successful—positive perceptions across the world are fundamental to the success of future bids for other major events—and as demonstrated by the magnificent Sydney Olympics, international sporting events can bring considerable gains to a nation.

There are two key non-sporting initiatives associated with the Manchester 2002 Games—the Volunteer Programme and the nationwide 'Spirit of Friendship' Festival.

The experience of the Sydney Olympics has demonstrated that the Volunteer Programme is a key factor in delivering a successful Games.

Fifteen thousand volunteers are needed to fulfil important roles at sporting venues and the athletes' village; they will act as drivers and stewards, they will help to escort athletes and officials around the city and above all they will act as `Ambassadors' for Manchester, the North-West and Britain. They will come from all walks of life, men and women, young and old—a true cross section of a community which is proud to host the Games in England. A pre-Volunteer programme will focus on disadvantaged areas in the North-West and use the Games as a catalyst to encourage long-term unemployed, ethnic minority and young (16–24 years) people into work, through the Commonwealth Games experience. Manchester's Volunteer Programme will be launched officially in spring 2001.

The 'Spirit of Friendship' Festival is planned to be a vibrant arts, cultural, educational and sporting festival reaching out across the UK and beyond Manchester. It is designed to maximise public participation, generate a sense of pride, embrace the Government's priorities of social inclusion, youth and multi-culturalism and celebrate the extensive cultural contribution of people from Commonwealth originating communities living in this country.

Plans are progressing on the four strands of the Festival and in particular, the education strand—a series of cross curricular programmes promoting good citizenship—will be launched in March 2001 and rolled-out nationwide in schools by September 2001. The sports strand will engage thousands of school children in regional `Youth Games' and 'Taster' days and millions of people will be given the chance to see the Queen's Baton in a relay around the UK and across the Commonwealth. Colleagues in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the Arts Councils are committed to a programme that will celebrate diversity of talents in the arts and cultural arena.