Scheme adopted from New York to help communities in Portsmouth

Margaret Thatcher is greeted by newsmen as she leaves her Chelsea home

THIS WEEK IN 1975: Portsmouth ‘loyal’ to Margaret Thatcher

Have your say

IT’S a community scheme that was a huge success in New York – and now it’s coming to Portsmouth.

The city council is one of seven across England to get a cash injection to become a City of Service.

The project is the brainchild of former Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg.

It looks at the roles volunteers play in the city and aims to solves issues such as help for the elderly and reviving neighbourhoods.

Portsmouth will receive a £150,000 grant and will appoint a chief service officer.

The council will also get practical support from the Cabinet Office and Nesta, a charity that supports projects with investments and grants.

The organisations will help the council bring in a new, wide-ranging programme of volunteering.

Councillor Hugh Mason, deputy leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘The Cities of Service project is great news for the city, which takes its place alongside New York, London and Madrid in the prestigious initiative.

‘We’ll use the funding to support communities with volunteering initiatives which address the city’s challenges. These include coaching and mentoring to improve educational standards and support the numeracy challenge. This funding will help us to shape an exciting future and legacy for generations of Portsmouth citizens.’

As well as grant funding, the council will receive advice from US cities that took part in the programme.

Janet Maxwell, the council’s director of public health, said: ‘Hopefully, it will benefit everybody. It’s a city-wide initiative to try and get more residents involved in being more integrated within the communities where they live.

‘We will be working with businesses and the community sector.

‘There will be lots of ideas discussed and we really hope this is something residents will take a very active part in.

‘It could help people feel safer and more connected with their neighbours.’

Over the next few months, Portsmouth will develop its final City of Service plan for the launch in the summer.