Today the historic International Development Bill receives Royal Assent. The Bill has already been agreed in the House of Parliament and Lords, but today’s Royal Assent means that the Bill is now officially an Act of Parliament – a law.
The new law is known as the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Act. The UK Government is now committed to spending 0.7% of the country’s Gross National Income on International Development.
VSO volunteers were in Parliament today to celebrate the occasion alongside other representatives from the Turn Up Save Lives Coalition and MPs from across the major parties. There were speeches from Michael Moore MP, Anas Sarwar MP and Baroness Ann Jenkin. The volunteers had the opportunity to share their positive stories of aid with a number of parliamentarians.
Shadman Chowdhury, a former volunteer with VSO’s ICS scheme for young volunteers attended the event at Parliament. He said:
“We talked to MPs who had all voted for the 0.7 Bill. They were interested in hearing about VSO and the impact that volunteers across the world can have. This Bill is so significant as it means that the Government are committed to continuing the fight against inequality and poverty.”
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Until now, although good practices and methodologies have existed across the volunteering sector, there has been no globally agreed set of standards. Together with the International Forum for Volunteering in Development, VSO has launched the Global Standard for Volunteering.
Volunteering is too often badly misunderstood. Too often, it is seen as a “worthy” activity undertaken by people with time on their hands. However, it really is a fundamental part of any country’s development journey and when done properly, it can be a powerful tool.
In 2017 Mike Barnes, an ex-primary school headteacher, joined VSO’s Unlocking Talent project in Malawi, providing students with tablet computers loaded with local language courses in numeracy and literacy. Read how he helped improve learning outcomes for thousands of children.