02 October 2010

The creation of a unique centre of excellence to act as a catalyst for increased community involvement and to support volunteerism has been announced at Northamptonshire’s Big Society summit today (SAT 2 OCT).

Northamptonshire County Council and the University of Northampton will establish a leadership academy for Northamptonshire to support the training and development of local people who want to make a contribution to their communities and neighbourhoods.

Speaking at the summit, the county council’s cabinet member leading on the Big Society in Northamptonshire Cllr David Mackintosh said: “A lot of people have said to me that they would like to volunteer and offer their skills and time to make a valid contribution. But taking that first step is often difficult and we need to work together to make this easier.

“We also need to find a way to ensure that strong local leadership continues to come forward so that our big society continues in years to come. Our work to make local leadership happen, and build a more engaged civil society, is truly an investment in our future.”

The leadership academy will give individuals who want to get more involved in their local community a place where people can come together and meet with successful charities and voluntary groups, entrepreneurs and leading business figures who will share their expertise, experience and advice.

Three hundred representatives of the public sector, voluntary sector, community groups, churches, religious foundations and charities signed up for the Big Society summit. It was organised by the council and the Northamptonshire Community Foundation to generate a common understanding across the county of what the Big Society means and how it could work in Northamptonshire.

Over the coming weeks the council, the university will work with Northamptonshire Community Foundation and Northampton Volunteering Centre to draw up detailed proposals for the leadership academy including funding arrangements, location and operational details.