Staff working for Lambeth Council are to be given paid time off to help out with community projects and volunteer at local Lambeth charities under a new scheme launched this week.
Nearly 3,000 council employees are being encouraged to spend up to three days a year away from their offices, rolling up their sleeves to help out with local projects, charities and community groups.
Under the new Lambeth Volunteering Scheme, staff could help out at local youth clubs or sports teams, join a community group for a clean up or tree planting campaign, help out at a pensioners’ lunch club, mentor a young person, or help with literacy programmes in a local primary school.
Any local group or voluntary organisation will be entitled to bid for help through the new council volunteering scheme. Every member of staff will be entitled to up to three days a year to volunteer in the community.
They will be expected to make sure this does not affect their main jobs so there is no negative effect on frontline services. Staff who take part will get a better idea of the issues facing Lambeth residents in their daily lives – which will help improve the services they run. Volunteering days will be approved in advance by managers, but if every one of almost 3,000 staff takes part that will mean 9,000 days of volunteering will be available to local groups, creating a huge new resource for community-led action.
The volunteering scheme is part of Lambeth’s cooperative council initiative which aims to hand more power over council services to local people.
Cllr Steve Reed, Leader of Lambeth Council, said: “Community groups do fantastic work right across Lambeth, but they often tell me they could do even more if they had more volunteers.
“At the same time, people sometimes tell me the council can feel remote from the local community. I think it’s a great idea to get the council’s employees out of the town hall and into the community so they can hear directly from residents what problems they are facing and then give their time to help fix them. This will be good for our community and good for our employees, and it’s a real example of the cooperative council in action.”