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At a recent London 21 annual networking event, when everyone was gathered together, in a brief interruption to proceedings, the Director made a couple of announcements. One was to thank and appreciate London 21 volunteers. This may seem something small and unremarkable, but to me is a highly significant example of good practice.


There was an article in this week's Society Guardian (as only a brief article it may be not available via their website, www.societyguardian.co.uk) about a new report suggesting that despite a huge marketing effort this year - and 2005 has been the Year of the Volunteer - there may be fewer volunteers this year than last. The report also suggests the voluntary sector has failed to spot new trends in volunteering, and operates in a "highly sophisticated voluntary labour market which it has yet to understand". The 21st Century Volunteer report is available from www.nfpsynergy.net.


If our leading environment and sustainability institutions are representative of the whole voluntary sector, and I'm not aware of compelling evidence to suggest otherwise, then this could have serious implications for a programme such as Community Action 2020 and the wider 'Together we can secure the future' programme.


If some of our leading sustainbility organisations and institutions are operating with an instituitional blind spot about active citizenship and its full potential isn't it all the more important to make sure the programme is fully open to be influenced by those who are less hampered? Isn't it all the more important, and especially if resources are scarce, to ensure that at least some real resources can go to those not hampered by out-of-touch institutional structures and attitudes?


Phil Green, December 2005


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