Two new ‘Our Plymouth’ volunteer schemes approved by Council


Plymouth is one of only seven 'Cities of Service' in the UK.

Plymouth is one of only seven ‘Cities of Service’ in the UK.

Two new volunteer schemes have been approved in Plymouth under the successful ‘Our Plymouth’ banner.

On Tuesday 10 November, Plymouth City Council’s Cabinet gave the go-ahead for the ‘Right to Read’ and ‘Pledge Plymouth’ schemes to be formally adopted as part of the local volunteer scheme. ‘Right to Read’ will involve people volunteering time in local primary schools to help children learn to read, while ‘Pledge Plymouth’ involves volunteers giving up 15 minutes of their time to improve life in the city and then using social media to tell us what they’ve done.

‘Our Plymouth’ is the name given to the local Cities of Service volunteer programme. Plymouth was one of seven cities in the UK selected and funded by the Cabinet Office and UK innovation foundation Nesta to participate in the initiative, based on a successful scheme launched in the United States by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Since ‘Our Plymouth’ was launched in October 2015, 12,500 portions of healthy food have been distributed through Grow, Share, Cook, Plymouth residents have saved £134,000 on their energy bills, and 117 volunteers have been recruited to the project. In addition, almost 2,000 residents have had conversations with our Energy Champion volunteers.

Councillor Chris Penberthy, Cabinet Member for Co-operatives and Housing for Plymouth City Council, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to expand the Our Plymouth volunteer scheme.

“Our vision for Plymouth is one of a fairer city where everyone does their bit, in this case through volunteering. Both ‘Grow, Share, Cook’ and ‘Energy Champions’ have been highly successful and we are confident that these two new schemes will be equally popular with local people.

“We’ve already started doing Right to Read in some schools as a pilot scheme and we also look forward to formally expanding Pledge Plymouth.”

Right to Read is one of the new schemes being adopted by Our Plymouth.

Right to Read is one of the new schemes being adopted by Our Plymouth.

Councillor Sue McDonald Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Public Health said: “Right to Read was one of the Council’s 50 pledges and is a fantastic scheme. It gives people the opportunity to not only help children read but also get the satisfaction of helping schools in their local communities. Reading for enjoyment can only be achieved when children learn to read accurately and regular practice is the key together with good teaching. We know that some children find it difficult to learn to read and they need extra practice or one to one support to succeed, so by putting in the increased focus on literacy now we are able to ensure these children do not get left behind.”

The two original Our Plymouth schemes – Our Plymouth are Grow, Share Cook – have focused on the Fairness Commission’s priorities, ‘heating and eating’.

Darin Halifax and Councillor Chris Penberthy attend a special Energy Champions event at Schneider Electrics to celebrate 1 year of Our Plymouth.

Darin Halifax and Councillor Chris Penberthy attend a special Energy Champions event at Schneider Electrics to celebrate 1 year of Our Plymouth.

Grow, Share, Cook sees the mobilisation of volunteers to grow more fresh fruit and vegetables, the development of community gardens and the distribution of the food to those in need, as well as healthy cookery sessions, while the Energy Champions project promotes energy efficiency across the city. These projects are delivered in partnership with Tamar Grow Local, Food is Fun, Plymouth Community Homes and Plymouth Energy Community.

Darin Halifax, Chief Cities of Service Officer for Plymouth, said: “We’re so pleased with how well the Our Plymouth project has gone so far and the generosity of local people in giving up their time, and look forward to expanding the scheme.

“So please do get in touch with me if you are interested in volunteering for any of our schemes, we’d love to hear from you.”

To find out more about Our Plymouth, contact Darin Halifax on 01752 305446 or email darin.halifax@plymouth.gov.uk

The Our Plymouth website can be accessed at www.ourplymouth.co.uk

You can also follow Our Plymouth on twitter at @ourplymouth