Communities across the UK are set to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in May 2012. The London Olympics and Paralympics in July and August will depend on their 70,000 volunteers. A new bank holiday in late October would be the perfect opportunity to recognise and celebrate the nation's volunteering efforts, says a coalition of organisations backing the Community Day.
The coalition includes the TUC, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), Community Service Volunteers (CSV), Volunteering England and the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA).
Activities that could take place on the extra bank holiday would include organising a street party, running a local sports day, clearing up a nature reserve or local park, or helping at a local animal shelter.
The coalition would like to see a new bank holiday in late October to break the four- month gap between the August and Christmas bank holidays - the longest gap between public holidays in the calendar.
Great Britain currently has eight bank holidays a year, compared with an EU average of 10.9 days. Only Romania has fewer bank holidays.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Communities across the UK have been hit hard by the recession. When times are tough, people look to their friends, family and local communities for support. Millions of people support their local communities every week in some way or other and this work should be properly recognised and encouraged.
"With the Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics to look forward to, 2012 is set to be a vintage year for volunteering. A new Community Day bank holiday would be the perfect way to celebrate the nation's achievements and encourage more people to volunteer."
And Dame Elisabeth Hoodless, executive director of CSV, added: "Volunteers raise reading levels, help patients to eat, tackle child abuse by supporting families and reduce levels of crime.
"We know that two thirds of the thousands of people who volunteer every October for Make a Difference Day have never volunteered before and that two thirds of those who try it out go on to volunteer again. It's clear there is untapped energy out there.
"Eleven million people tell researchers they would volunteer if somebody asked them.
A Community Day bank holiday would help to attract even more people to give time to benefit others."