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The Mayor of London Boris Johnson's flagship Team London volunteering programme is set to attract an unprecedented number of 60,000 volunteers by the end of a single mayoral term – almost half the size of the British Army

The Mayor made the announcement as he delivered almost £600,000 of Team London small grants funding to over 60 small community groups across London, which rely on volunteers to keep their projects going. A recent survey revealed that 51 per cent of voluntary organisations in London have had to close some services during the past year, despite 81 per cent facing greater demands for their services.

The Mayor’s Team London Small Grants Fund will help thousands of vulnerable Londoners across the capital who, rely on voluntary organisations to improve their daily lives and enhance their future prospects. Projects set to receive grants from the Mayor include the award-winning charitable youth organisation Exposure, based at the Muswell Hill Centre in Haringey. Exposure will receive £9,750 in order to train vulnerable youngsters as volunteers to run an issues-based multi-media project called 'Teen London'.

Others include, the FoodCycle project, in need of volunteers to cook tasty, nutritious meals at their Sky Café located in the Bromley-by-Bow Centre in Tower Hamlets. FoodCycle are due to receive £10,000 to support their work to build communities by combining volunteers, surplus food and spare kitchen spaces to create tasty and nutritious meals for people at risk from food poverty.

The Life After Trauma project in east London is set to be awarded £3,850 to help women rebuilding their lives after sexual abuse. Volunteers are needed to deliver food parcels to domestic and sexual abuse survivors, plus local homeless people, and elderly disadvantaged residents across three London boroughs.

Through the Mayor’s Team London programme volunteers can get involved with organisations working in three priority areas - cutting crime, increasing youth opportunities and improving quality of life. In addition to making a real difference to local communities, volunteering can provide valuable skills, rewarding life experiences, a place to meet new friends and be part of a neighbourhood, plus often providing better job prospects for all age groups.

Based on the highly successful American 'Cities of Service' model, backed by 100 city Mayors and 50 million Americans since its launch in New York in 2009, Team London targets volunteers to address the greatest needs of London’s residents. Since 2008 the Mayor has amassed 50,000 volunteers across a variety of initiatives, and has now committed through Team London to adding an extra 10,000 volunteers before the end of his first term. The Small Grants Fund will galvanise an extra 5000 volunteers by spring 2012. The Mayor is backed by Team London’s key founding supporter the Reuben Foundation, which has already donated £2 million to the £4.5m programme, allowing initiatives such as the Small Grants Fund to go ahead.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'I'm thrilled that Londoners have stepped up to the challenge and joined the growing army of Team London volunteers working to improve our communities. Building on the incredible goodwill and philanthropy I've already seen, I am confident that we will reach a fantastic figure of 60,000 Team London volunteers by next spring. The £600,000 we are awarding today, to help many worthy projects recruit between them 5000 new volunteers, will make a real difference to all those people they already help and the many more they will now be able to reach out to. And, I am so impressed by the thousands of small projects that utilise volunteers that today I am also opening up applications for a second round of grants. So, if you know of a grass-roots community project that needs a helping hand, please ask them to get in touch with Team London as they may be eligible for funding.'

The Mayor today visited the Oasis project in Stockwell, which engages local kids in safe, positive educational activities, keeping them off the streets and away from the lure of crime and gangs. The Oasis Children’s Venture will use its Team London funding, of £9,570, to train young people at risk as volunteers to work on site.

Joanne Brown, Director Oasis Children's Venture, said: 'The challenge for small organisations is to survive in this financial climate as the competition for funds is fierce. At times in the last couple of years it has looked like Oasis wouldn't make it but fortunately things are looking up now, but it could all change again in an instant. The point that is often missed is that small organisations offer really good value for money and can deliver services at the heart communities - they should , therefore, be invested in, when times are hard, not threatened with closure.’

National estimates suggest that voluntary and community groups in London will lose £300m-800m in funding in 2011-12. The Team London Small Grants Fund seeks to go some way to address this by awarding grants of up to £10,000 for projects that have a turnover of less than £250,000. The money awarded is to support new or additional activities and must involve the recruitment of volunteers.

Kelvin Cheung, CEO FoodCycle said: 'FoodCycle is really excited to be receiving Team London funding so that we can get more volunteers cooking in the capital. This comes at a crucial time for us. A lot of funding streams around youth volunteering have been cut over the past year and Team London is a great boost. Tower Hamlets in particular has been very badly hit and this funding is going to make a real difference to people in the local community.'

Andreas Koumi from Exposure commented: 'It's wonderful that Team London has awarded this grant to Exposure; not only to support vulnerable young people in Haringey but also to help them address serious youth issues but in a light-hearted way. It's a great way to raise Exposure charity's profile within the wider community. With Exposure's funding slashed, it's vital for Exposure to be able to demonstrate the value of its work to a mainstream audience. 'Teen London' will be an important vehicle to enable us to achieve this goal.'

Organisations can now apply for the Team London Micro Grants of up to £1000 which will support 66 even smaller, local grass-roots groups, to kick start new volunteering activities in local areas.

 

Source: London Mayor

Written by Scott Buckler
Monday, 10 October 2011 13:01

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