What’s in a name?

For the young people who do Millennium Volunteers, today’s transfer of MV from the DfES to the new independent charity ‘v’ is probably a non-event. I imagine many of them won’t notice at all – and “business as usual” is certainly the message that v is encouraging us all to send to them.

The most noticeable difference will probably be the change to the certificates that young people get after completing 200 hours of voluntary work. Before today, the certificates were signed by a government minister – because they were the responsibility of the DfES. Now that link has gone, the certificates from today will be signed by the Chief Exec of the new charity v – Terry Ryall.

This is something which was discussed a bit at the v conference on Thursday. Some liked the chance to make MV apolitical. Others thought v should try to find a “credible signatory” for the new MV certificates – with a variety of names like Gordon Brown and David Milliband suggested.

One delegate suggested Prince William – a chance for MV to remain apolitical, but with a well-known and respected “credible” name. This is a nice idea in theory, but I would imagine it is somewhat unlikely. Although it is not unheard of for royalty to lend their names to youth volunteering work, this is normally done with projects that they initiated themselves – like the Princes Trust and the Duke of Edinburgh Award. I’d be surprised if Prince William wanted to lend his name to an existing project – particularly one with so uncertain a future! Still, it was a nice idea, and certainly wouldn’t do MV any harm.

My personal view is that v does need to do something. It probably won’t matter much to the school children that we work with, but to the teenagers looking to apply for positions in employment or Higher Education, there is something about a certificate from a government minister that helps. If nothing else, it is something to talk about in an interview – “I did such-and-such to help my community and received a certificate from this govt. minister in recognition of my efforts”. I mean no disrespect to Terry Ryall (I think she’s great – she did a talk at one of our Awards Evenings a couple of years back which was really good), but she is essentially an unknown. And I think this devalues the MV certificate to those young people wanting to use the certificate in this way.

Perhaps this will be less of an issue when v has built up it’s “brand” more, and maybe it is too early to judge. In the meantime, we’ll have to wait and see if any of the young people that we work with have any views on the change.

One Response to “What’s in a name?”

  1. […] mentioned ‘v‘ before – the independent charity that took over the running of Millennium Volunteers project from DfES […]