Created by New York’s Mayor Bloomberg, Cities of Service programmes are now working with citizens and agencies all across America to determine what needs to be done to improve life in the city and then build or support local projects to achieve those goals. They often aim to fund these projects through local businesses. Little Rock’s ‘Love Your School’ initiative resulted in 3000 families and students learning about exercise, growing gardens and healthy cooking and over 300 raised beds being created to grow food for schools.
Bloomberg Philanthropies were considering ways to ship the concept abroad when our Mayor at the time, George Ferguson, visited the States.
The UK Cities of Service are: Barnsley, Bristol, Kirklees, London, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Swindon and Telford &Wrekin. Monmouthshire was recently added to that list (even though its not a city!) because they share our approach to mobilising citizens and 'Impact Volunteering'.
The Bristol Cities of Service team is Chief Service Officer Dominic Murphy, Project Officer Ricardo Sharry and Administrator Naadia Hassen. Bristol Reading Partners (BRP) is a major project for the team, part of which involves bringing together different organisations, such as Ablaze, RSVP West (Retired and Senior Volunteers Programme) and our two universities, to create a more strategic, citywide, data-based approach to volunteering in schools.
The team has focused on the south of the city with over 75 volunteers in 17 primary schools and over 110 children helped so far. Volunteers have two days of training on the Boosting Reading at Primary Programme, they then work one-to-one with children to help them develop confidence, understanding and a joy of reading over a 10 week programme. Research by Save the Children shows that children confident in reading before age 11 do considerably better in school and later life than those struggling by this age. Our volunteers feel that they are really making a difference and hope that the volunteering they do now will increase the prospects and opportunities in life for the children they work with.
Following a commtiment given by Mayor Ferguson in November 2015, we have added Coding to the list of volunteering opportunities in primary schools. If you work in the Tech sector or have experience of computer programming (coding) you could become a Code Club Volunteer.
The main aim of Cities of Service is to create a city of active citizens: people who commit to making their own community and city better by taking personal action.
A key work stream of Cities of Service in Bristol is bringing initiatives together. Dominic and his team find ways to connect and support organisations and initiatives in the city, thus increasing their impact. Bristol Aging Better is one such initiative which is bringing together organisations and services across the city to reduce isolation and improve life for older people in Bristol. We are also working with the Green Capital Partnership to create a green strand to the programme.
We are always looking for more volunteers, check out our free city-wide volunteering website for opportunities http://volunteerteam.bristol.gov.uk, or get in touch to find out some corporate friendly volunteering opportunities across the city.
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