Wednesday, September 1, 1999 Published at 08:51 GMT 09:51 UK
Millennium volunteers wanted
A party will be held at the millennium dome to celebrate volunteers
The government is investing £1.9m in a scheme to encourage Britain to become a nation of volunteers for the millennium.
The aim is to get everyone to devote two hours a week to voluntary work, the government said on Wednesday.
The money has been given to the ONE20 charity which aims to promote work in community initiatives during millennium year.
The £1.9 million grant is one of a £6.5m government package to get Britain volunteering.
The Media Trust is to get £200,000 to set up a free digital TV channel dedicated to community issues.
This could include adverts from charities seeking volunteers.
Another beneficiary is a project to involve 15,000 volunteers in the running of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester 2002.
However, the majority of the money - some £4.5m - will be spent on research into why people become volunteers and what holds them back.
The research projects are being run by the Home Office and local authorities in Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, Camden, north London, Halton and Warrington, Cheshire, Luton, Beds and North Tyneside.
The government says it is also supporting a celebration of Britain's volunteers next March.
It will kick off with the Active Community Convention and Celebration and culminate in a party at the Millennium Dome.
Announcing the money, Home Office minister Paul Boateng said it would help inspire people who wanted to make a positive difference to other people and their communities.
Cabinet minister Lord Falconer said: "We all live in communities and we all benefit from belonging to them.
"Local football clubs, residents' associations and mother and toddler groups are common examples of how people get together to help each other.
"We want to encourage this, to make explicit to people the joys that can be gained from helping others and to recognise the achievements of people who are already volunteering," he said.
Meanwhile, the chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations says the government could better support charities and community groups by doing more to encourage people to donate money.
Writing in The Guardian, Stuart Etherington calls for a series of measures to be taken by the government.
These include the introduction of tax relief on all traceable donations, government efforts to get the wealthy to give more through promotion of tax relief schemes and moves to make it easier for workers to donate money regularly through their payroll.