The contribution of tens-of-thousands of volunteers were marked today by Conservative MEP for London Marina Yannakoudakis and campaigner and broadcaster Esther Rantzen at the launch of the UK tour of the European Year of Volunteering and on the eve of CSV Make a Difference Day, the UK’s biggest single day of volunteering.

Marina and Esther were joined by Lucy de Groot, Chief Executive of UK volunteering charity CSV as well as Make a Difference Day volunteers of all ages from across London. The event promotes both the UK tour of the European Year of Volunteering and Make a Difference Day which takes place on Saturday 29th October.

Marina and Esther sampled a variety of volunteering activities to benefit lonely and isolated people as part of CSV Make a Difference Day, ranging from intergenerational knitting groups or creating story sacks for disabled children through to making homes for birds and even creating smiles on gingerbread men to give to others as a simple act of kindness.

Marina said: "It’s important for everyone to their bit and to contribute to a bigger, stronger society. The European Year of Volunteering and the CSV Make a Difference Day are great ways of raising awareness of how to volunteer and give back to your community. The Olympics are also inspiring the capital’s young people to come forward and get in on the act. I hope that all these events will motivate more Londoners to offer their services to make their local neighbourhood a better place."
Esther said "Loneliness can be an unintended consequence of growing older and it can also strike the younger generation too, especially as research states that more and more young people under 40 are living alone. Loneliness does not respect age or gender: it’s walking around an empty flat, evenings spent watching televisions and en empty bed. And it carries a stigma which makes it very hard for people to admit that they are finding a lonely life difficult to bear. there are so many different causes; divorce bereavement, disability, bullying, family torn apart geographically or emotionally, a community which has lost its pub or corner shop or its church. And therefore has no heart. We need to think of solutions which can bring people together. CSV Make the Difference Day shows the powerful way that community action can help build stronger communities and reduce isolation among both volunteers and the people that they help."

CSV Make a Difference Day, is the UK’s biggest single day of volunteering on Saturday 29 October 2011 with events taking place a week either side. This year the focus is isolation and loneliness. The campaign is looking to demonstrate how giving time through volunteering with friends, family and neighbours and being an active member of the community can make people feel less lonely, anxious and isolated.

To find out more about volunteering on CSV Make a Difference Day, go online at www.csv.org.uk/difference