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Celebrating 25 years of volunteering - 06-06-2007
20,000 volunteers in 300 projects across England are getting 6.7 million worth of grants from the Department of Health's Opportunities for Volunteering (OFV) Scheme this year, Health Minister, Ivan Lewis has announced.

Speaking at the event to celebrate OFV's twenty-fifth anniversary, Ivan Lewis praised the work that has been achieved over the last twenty-five years and talked of the impact that the scheme had on him as a child:

"I have first hand experience of the crucial role OFV plays in this area. At fourteen, I became a volunteer working with disabled children and OFV gave me the help and support I needed to do this. This experience had a profound affect on me and, prior to being elected as an MP, I worked in the local voluntary sector throughout my working life.

"I am proud today to sponsor this scheme and congratulate OFV on its role in developing a thriving culture of volunteering. As a Health Minister, I see the huge difference that volunteers make in health and social care. The Local Gateway Club in the West Midlands where volunteers help people with mental health problems lead, full lives, both socially and educationally. Age Concern in Buckinghamshire where volunteers run an advocacy service for older people in the community. These are projects funded by OFV and show what can be achieved when government departments and the voluntary sector work together.

Ivan Lewis was speaking at the start of Volunteers' Week, organised by Volunteering England to celebrate volunteers and their work, which will see him spending time volunteering with older people. The Minister continued:

"I am also asking people to think about whether they can spare a couple of hours a week to volunteer in their local communities. Not only does it give you the opportunity to make a real difference it can also be hugely rewarding personally."

OFV's annual report is also published today and highlights what local people are achieving through volunteering schemes across the country.

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