Every youngster to carry out 50 hours community service by age 19
(Telegraph/UK) – Every young person will be expected to undertake at least 50 hours of community service before they turn 19 under plans to be announced by the Prime Minister today.Schools will be offered new assistance starting in September to enable their pupils to undertake the voluntary service in their local communities.
If the new target is not reached, Gordon Brown will consider making voluntary service a compulsory part of the secondary school curriculum.
Mr Brown believes that encouraging children to undertake voluntary service is an essential part of building a greater sense of national pride. Mr Brown has repeatedly focussed on the issue throughout the past decade.
The Prime Minister said: “I believe that every young person can make a difference and by involving young people to become forces for good in our communities we will together build a better and more responsible Britain.
“Millions of young people are already giving their time and their energy to make a difference in our communities, whether by helping in an old people’s home or tutoring younger pupils, campaigning on local issues or fundraising for global causes, organising community activities or helping deliver environmental projects.
“I want everyone to have this opportunity and I want everyone to get involved. I want serving your community to become a normal part of growing up in every community because everyone has something unique to give, and a great deal to gain from doing so.”
Today, the Prime Minister will unveil proposals for 20,000 school leavers to be offered the opportunity to undertake full-time community service while gaining qualifications.
Volunteering organisations will also be encouraged – with money if necessary – to work with schools to place teenagers in community projects.
The Education department will also set up a new online directory for schools to help find local volunteering opportunities.
“The Prime Minister is determined to see a step change in the participation of young people in community service,” a Number 10 aide said. “He wants this to become a normal part of growing up, and is committed to exploring the best ways to achieve this, including considering making it a compulsory part of the 14-16 curriculum.”
Mr Brown, in a podcast released by Downing Street last night, said: “Martin Luther King died 40 years ago but one of the things he said remains with me forever – everyone can be great because everyone can serve. And I want every young person to have the opportunity to help build stronger communities in our country.”
By Robert Winnett, Deputy Political Editor
Last Updated: 8:44PM BST 23 Apr 2009