The freedom to volunteer – JVN’s Spring Newsletter 2012

Susan Winton (Chair of JVN Trustees) and Leonie Lewis (Director)

This time last year in the Pesach edition of the JVN newsletter, much comment was centred on the Big Society. Indeed, the feature article by Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society, promoted and discussed its basic principles and implications.  However, any initial enthusiasm for David Cameron’s flagship idea, created back in 2010, has waned, particularly as the level of volunteering and the health of the voluntary and public sector has slipped.

Arguably however, it is still a flagship vision of the current Government – a vision of a better UK society which will lead to a more fulfilled life for many people. One of the tenets of a Big Society has been empowerment – offering people the opportunity to assume responsibility for their own actions. We agree that volunteering is certainly empowering. It gives us the opportunity to do something for somebody else, not because we are compelled to, but because we choose to.

The motivation to volunteer and support others is intrinsic to Judaism. Pesach reminds us that as Jews we were once not empowered, not free to choose to do good deeds – we were slaves in Egypt. Because of our history as a slave nation, it is incumbent on us to remember others today – both in the UK and the rest of the world – who do not have the opportunity to use their time for themselves or for others. They are compelled, indeed forced, to serve, just to stay alive and to look after their families.

Freedom to choose is a fundamental precept of Pesach and choosing to volunteer is both precious and empowering. So this Pesach, while we remember and tell the story of our freedom; let’s do the responsible thing, focus on others and volunteer.

And to get you on your way, we’re delighted to present our Spring Newsletter 2012  below filled with all sorts of volunteering news and opportunities including for London 2012 and a incisive article from our corporate sponsors Bircham Dyson Bell looking at what Big Society actually means a year on in terms of facts on the ground…

We wish you all happy reading and Chag Sameach

Leonie and Susan

(Click on ‘view in full screen’ for easier viewing)



Categories: JVN News, Leonie's View, Volunteering


Hi, I'm Mike, JVN's Youth Co-ordinator and blogger. I'll be blogging about all sorts of issues affecting the volunteering community, with a particular focus on how recent developments might affect the UK Jewish community's volunteers. I'm always interested to read the comments you make. If you have something you want to see in the JVN blog, e-mail me at and I'll be happy to talk. And if you're inspired by any of my blogs to volunteer, log on to and register to find your perfect volunteering opportunity.


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