Why are we doing this?
Millions of volunteers already give their time to volunteer and make a difference to their local communities. Many do so as part of public services – like school governors and special constables - and we've seen it more recently with initiatives like the Games Makers and Team London.
We think it’s possible for public services to create new and better opportunities for people to give their time to make a difference to issues that they care about, like helping young people succeed, supporting older people to live great lives or improving the physical environment.
What are we doing?
We have been inspired by Cities of Service, a coalition of Mayors across the US (initiated by Mayor Bloomberg, the 108th Mayor of New York City) who have put citizen service at the heart of their efforts to address big challenges. They are mobilising millions of volunteers in cities across the US to help with practical tasks to improve their city.
We want to replicate this successful approach in the UK and have joined forces with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Cabinet Office to back seven UK cities to join the Cities of Service movement. Over the next two years, each will receive grant funding, as well as mentoring and advice from US colleagues leading successful Cities of Service programmes. They will identify local challenges, mobilise volunteers and measure the impact they are having.
Bristol, Kirklees, Plymouth and Portsmouth will each receive grants of £180,000 to fund the creation of a Chief Service Office post and to support new initiatives that mobilise citizens to make a difference to specific challenges.
Each city published a Service Plan in September 2014.
In the future we hope other cities will join the movement.
Cities of Service started in New York in 2009. Today, the Cities of Service coalition includes more than 170 mayors, representing nearly 50 million Americans. It is successfully mobilising thousands of volunteers to improve their city one task at a time. Volunteers give their time in the service of others and their local city, often co-ordinated by a Chief Service Officer and always with a focus on measuring the impact they are having. Cities in the coalition share successful strategies and programmes, which are published in a series of blueprints that ensure the most effective ones are copied by others.
Who is involved?
This programme is being developed as part of the Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund, and is co-funded by Cabinet Office and Nesta with support from the Cities of Service coalition in the US and Bloomberg Philanthropies.