Radical vision urges Norwich bosses to give workers paid time off to volunteer

City Hall Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

City Hall Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

Empty areas of City Hall could be opened up to local groups as part of a radical vision to boost community groups.

And businesses in Norwich may be urged to give their staff time to volunteer.

The bold vision, which also includes slicing through the red tape that hinders organisations, has been drawn up by a cross-party group of city councillors looking for ways to empower Norwich residents.

They spent eight months listening to 85 local groups, and received responses from more than 440 people.

Lucy Galvin, who chaired the working party, found Norwich was already a very caring city, and said: 'The point of it is to make Norwich a better place for everyone. It's the city council doing what it can to enable people to help each other.'

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She added: 'It's a radical development in how the council does things. It's a bit of a revolution in how we look at community. It won't be delivered like a revolution, but it's an on-going process.

'It's very positive, because it's very responsive to what people want.'

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Their research found the most important reason people gave for not volunteering was that no-one had asked them, and that people often did not know how to get involved.

The report sets out a series of recommendations for the council, including giving more information on where volunteering opportunities are and what would suit people's skills, and starting a buddy system to help them try it out.

It also calls for the council to encourage employers to allow flexible working times to allow for volunteering, provide opportunities for whole teams to volunteer, and give mentoring support for local voluntary organisations.

It also said there should be help for small groups to work together on funding bids, and organising insurance and licences.

The report said the council should introduce a process of 'co-producing', where City Hall involves local people in the decision making process from the beginning, because 'those who use a service are best placed to help design it'.

Ms Galvin said the new way of working, if adopted, would need a change of attitude, but not new resources, and would save the council money through working more effectively.

The report, Building Social Inclusion and Capital in Norwich, will be debated by the scrutiny committee on Thursday, March 19.

What do you think? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, Norwich Evening News, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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