Voluntary organisations and the TUC are calling for a new national bank holiday in October to celebrate and promote community activity and involvement. The call is being made on the anniversary of the House of Commons approving the Bill granting Britain’s first ever bank holidays on 25 May 25 1871.
The TUC, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), Community Service Volunteers, Volunteering England and the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action have made the call in a letter to Gordon Brown and other politicians, and in a joint statement launched today.
They say that a new bank holiday should be used to help build the Government’s “vision of a society where voluntary activity flourishes and where all individuals and communities are enabled to play a full part in civil society”, and would complement existing well-established initiatives.
The organisations argue that the extra community activity and skills development would offset the costs of an extra day off as the Home Office’s citizenship survey estimates that the current level of volunteering is worth more than £40 billion a year in England alone, and CSV research shows that two-thirds of first time volunteers go on to volunteer again.
It would also help fill the UK’s public holiday deficit. There are three fewer days off work in the UK than the average for the EU.
The groups suggest that the best time for such a holiday would be at the end of October, coinciding with the normal half term break and in the middle of the longest current gap between bank holidays.
Dame Elisabeth Hoodless, Executive Director of CSV, the UK’s largest volunteering and training charity, said: “Research shows that 11 million people would volunteer if asked. A community day is an excellent way to involve them to reduce crime, boost health, protect the environment and help young people to read and write. What better way to bring people together to make a difference
and strengthen our communities?”