EUROPEAN VOLUNTEERING CAPITAL 2016
I am writing to share some fantastic news with you. Last night, on the eve of the United Nations' International Volunteer Day, London was crowned European Volunteer Capital 2016. We saw off stiff competition from 10 cities - including our near neighbours Belfast and Edinburgh. This demonstrates, nearly four years on, that we have truly created a legacy after volunteering took centre stage at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012.
I must say I am delighted all our efforts have been recognised. We worked with Greater London Volunteering to win the bid, so I will start by thanking James and the teams in the volunteer centres. Thank you to the wonderful Team London volunteers – all 120,000 of them – the amazing 1,600 charities we work with, and the 1,400 schools who are busy taking social action. I would also like to thank everyone who posted photos encouraging people to ‘vote London’, and of course our funders and wonderful delivery partners. Without all of you, we could not have achieved this prestigious award.
So why did London win? I believe there are several reasons. We were recognised for our work to inspire the next generation of volunteers, and link volunteering to employability. There is our work with charities, offering grants and training from partner businesses to address skills gaps. We have also got over 100 London businesses now signed up to the Corporate Commitment. Last but not least, there is innovation. That is something our great city’s always been rather good at. I am talking about our new speed volunteering website and app. Now it is even easier for busy Londoners to volunteer.
Yet this award does not mean we will rest on our laurels, far from it. Next year, we are looking forward to continuing to work closely with charities, the wider third sector infrastructure and business. We want Team London to have an even greater impact on London’s communities. We will be giving charities more support by expanding our Skill-UP training programme and other exciting new schemes. We also want to share our learning, across the UK and Europe. We will be extending our route to work programme to new groups and expanding our support to businesses who want to get their employees using their skills to make the capital a better place. We want as many people as possible to benefit from this volunteering movement.
Congratulations to all of you for the part you have played in London being recognised as the European Volunteering Capital. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year and I look forward to working with you all to achieve even more in 2016.
Mayor of London