The Dean of Manchester, The Very Reverend Rogers Govender, led a delegation of 12 people from across Greater Manchester to Washington DC on a five day visit. The visit in early February was at the invitation of the Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the United States and focussed on the Cathedral Volunteer Programme.
Volunteering is nothing new to the City of Manchester with its long tradition of philanthropy, as the home of the co-operative movement and, in more recent times, its success in hosting the Commonwealth Games creating more than 10,000 opportunities. A trailblazer city, it’s no surprise that this tradition grows and evolves, with the innovative programme spearheaded by the Cathedral – linking volunteering, skills and jobs in partnership with Jobcentre Plus.
Developed in close partnership with InclusionNW and InclusionUS, part of the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion, the programme is gaining national recognition for its work – which has extended to the US. The Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion has a long history of supporting the development of best practice in inclusion in the labour market and has initiated UK: US knowledge exchanges for a number of years. It was this connection that led the British Embassy to extend an invitation to the Cathedral to bring a delegation to Washington DC to meet with city leaders, volunteer programmes and volunteers to share best practice and move the initiative to a new level.
The Dean of Manchester says” I was delighted to lead this delegation to Washington and to speak about our programme and the impact it is having, with so many long-term unemployed and vulnerable people gaining a foot-hold in the labour market. I am particularly pleased that Jobcentre Plus and Manchester City Council joined us, together with the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Imperial War Museum, Manchester Galleries and the City West Housing Trust”.
Tracy Fishwick, InclusionNW, says “This programme is a very important innovation in the way volunteering can lead to jobs and skills. There are many volunteer programmes in the city and we were fortunate to work to create something different at the Cathedral, by bringing our experience of employer involvement and employability support for volunteers, who are all on out of work benefits. This struck a cord with colleagues in Washington DC. Governments in both countries are developing and refining policies to encourage greater civic engagement, community activism and volunteering efforts. This is particularly true at the City level, where volunteering efforts are gaining momentum in a challenging economy – and where linking to jobs is what people really need”.