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Gordon Brown: Ours is a country being lifted up every day – by volunteers

It's time to celebrate our volunteers There are some people who argue that Britain is broken, but I believe the opposite is true. Ours is a country being lifted up every day by the people who love it – and this week, Britain's 25th National Volunteer Week, is a celebration of the millions who give their energy to make a difference. Whether they are helping out the elderly or tutoring young pupils, campaigning on local issues or fundraising for global ones, each volunteer is a testament to the fact that Britain is filled with people sharing their talents so that others can realise theirs.

Last week I met young volunteers from the Scouts, Kids Company and the Hackney Youth Parliament along with members of the National Union of Students, who told me about the campaigns they've been running to get young people more actively engaged in their communities.

As I spoke to these young people, the thing that struck me most was that they were inspirational but not unusual. Already, nearly half the population volunteers at least once a month – and in these difficult times I am proud that people are showing that we achieve more together than alone.

People such as these are changing the world the only way it ever really changes – one life at a time. And I am determined to support them, which is why we have more than doubled spending on the third sector since 1997 to £11bn a year; why we have invested in expanding opportunities for volunteers across the country; why we launched the national youth volunteering body back in 2006, and why we are now starting to help all schools provide volunteering opportunities.

I am committed to ensuring that the third sector is a partner to government rather than being the last resort if government retreats. There are things that only the voluntary sector can do – but that doesn't mean government can just pass by on the other side.

We are going to need the idealism, the energy and the expertise of Britain's volunteers as we face the challenges ahead – and I hope that National Volunteer Week will inspire many more people to play their part.

The Prime Minister originally posted this on The Independent's Volunteering blog at independent.co.uk/volunteering. You can set up your own Independent Minds blog at independent.co.uk/blogs