New paper: Volunteering: Unlocking the real wealth of communities

Creating opportunities for people using support services to contribute to those around them has a deep impact on their wellbeing and members of their wider community, according to a new report released by Think Local Act Personal (TLAP).

The report - Volunteering: unlocking the real wealth of people and communities -states that people's voluntary and unpaid contributions are crucial to enabling them and others have maximum choice and control over their lives.

It has been written in collaboration with In Control, CSV, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and the Social Care Institute for Excellence.

It calls for continued development of social action in local communities and responds to last week's launch of the Government's Care and Support White Paper, which stresses the value of supportive communities and community connections to improve people's health and wellbeing.

The report recommends building on the excellent practice already going on across England. It includes examples drawn from a range of government, third sector and private providers that illustrate the importance of thinking beyond traditional health and social care services when creating opportunities for volunteering and building community connections.

Alex Fox, Chief Executive of Shared Lives Plus and TLAP's lead for Building Community Capacity, said:"Volunteering is often seen as a 'nice' add-on to the 'real work of professionals and experts. This game changing report recognises that people's gifts, skills and potential - not just their needs - go to the heart of making personalised care and support services real. Services should increasingly focus on helping people to find new ways to shape communities in which they feel they are valued and belong.

"We recognise the difficulties that reduced funding can bring, but there is strong evidence that focusing on communities and the contributions that people can make can result in better health and wellbeing outcomes, more efficient use of resources and financial savings."

Julie Stansfield, CEO of In Control, said: "This report provides a useful focus on how we can better mobilise social action within communities. It highlights how going beyond traditional models and utilising innovative concepts such as 'real wealth' and 'community fund holding'- which enable individuals and communities to make the best use of their assets - can transform individuals from a passive recipient to active partner."

A copy of the paper can be downloaded for free from Think Local, Act Personal's website.

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Last Updated : 16 July 2012. Page Author: Laura Bimpson.