Volunteering Matters will work with the government on a scheme to deal with increased pressure on public transport when the coronavirus lockdown lifts next month.
The government’s Journey Makers scheme, coordinated by the charity Volunteering Matters and funded by the Department for Transport, will involve recruiting and training more than a thousand volunteers all over the UK.
Those volunteers will give guidance to commuters, help vulnerable travellers, and prevent overcrowding when people start returning to public transport, according to a statement released on Saturday.
The level of funding for the scheme has not yet been finalised, but a Volunteering Matters spokesperson said it was expected to be between £300,000 and £600,000, with an option to extend the work after six weeks. They added that, as the charity will be identifying local groups which can find and recruit the volunteers, the vast majority of the funding will effectively be passed to local organisations.
Volunteering Matters also confirmed that funding for the scheme would come from existing Department for Transport cash, and was not part of the £750m package for charities announced by the Treasury in April.
Paul Reddish, chief Executive of Volunteering Matters, said: “The launch of this scheme is a result of the work of the Emergencies Partnership, and has been an excellent example of collaboration between government and the voluntary sector to find innovative ways to help respond to the Covid-19 crisis.
“Volunteering Matters has over 50 years’ experience of managing and delivering volunteer programmes that help local communities across the UK. Volunteers are already playing a huge role in the national response to the crisis, and we are delighted that the Department for Transport not only recognise the valuable role volunteers can play in supporting the crisis, but also in the importance and expertise of local voluntary sector infrastructure in doing this safely, and to a standard that supports people to stay safe as restrictions ease.
“Over the next few days, we’ll be identifying the organisations best suited to carry out this important co-ordination role in each area, and support them to make a success of this important scheme.”
‘We will deploy over a thousand volunteers’
Grant Shapps, secretary of state for transport, said: “We’re managing the transport network to make it as safe as possible. This week we deployed 3,400 individuals from the British Transport Police, Network Rail and Transport for London. These marshals worked with the public to help prevent services from becoming overcrowded.
“From June 1 at the earliest – as we move to phase two of the unlock – we will deploy over a thousand more with the assistance of charity Volunteering Matters.”
Speaking at the government’s daily coronavirus press conference on Saturday, the minister compared the scheme to the Games Maker scheme rolled-out during the 2012 London Olympics, which he called “a great success”.
He added: “If we show the same public-spirited concern for one another, it will go a long way towards helping transport and passengers cope”.