Cameron and Obama - two minds greater than one...?

10 June 2011 | By Cause4 staff

Last month, during President Obama’s first official state visit to Britain, it was stated that the USA and United Kingdom will draw upon joint knowledge and expertise in a bid to strengthen global volunteering and community engagement.

As one of six joint collaborative initiatives announced, Cameron and Obama have said that the world’s leading volunteer organisations, US Peace Corps and Voluntary Services Overseas, will join together to ‘promote volunteering and active citizenship through people to people exchanges.’ It is envisaged that they will work alongside communities and organisations to develop effective strategies in order to increase volunteering and ultimately address world issues of poverty.

There is great scope for success here, with both organisations being well established in their field. The UK’s VSO is a leading international development charity, who last year alone assisted 26 million people in reducing poverty, with 1600 international volunteers working in 42 countries across the world today. US Peace Corps was established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, and currently has 8,655 volunteers working with local communities within 77 countries. To date, over 200,000 Americans have served with US Peace Corps.

With over 50 years experience between them, and with a shared vision and ambition, we expect to see great achievements from this partnership. Indeed, given that both US Peace Corps and VSO are such successful organisations, there is a great deal of promise in their ability to realise an effective strategy. It is extremely encouraging that Obama and Cameron have recognised the importance of pubic engagement through volunteering and, in combining resources and expertise, are able to implement an ambitious, yet fundamentally crucial, programme.

Whilst volunteering and active community engagement are increasing, numbers are still low. There is always scope for all of us to do more, so we hope a new wave of encouragement and wider promotion will be enough to raise the population’s involvement. It is also envisaged that through the partnership a wider scope for learning and policy will be developed, strengthening the way in which we implement volunteering projects in the future.

So, good luck to a new transatlantic partnership, we hope it will pave the way for others, and will be a great example of allowing people to volunteer, get out there and get stuck in.


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