TODAY marks the beginning of National Volunteers Week 2017 – a seven-day celebration of the big difference voluntary workers are making in their local communities.

British people are justifiably famous for their munificence.

Whether it is spending a weekend rattling a collecting tin, visiting a lonely pensioner or spending the day litter-picking, we have a proud tradition of helping others, giving our time and sharing our skills for the greater good.

You only only have to look at the spontaneous outpouring of generosity in the wake of the Manchester bomb attack to see how public-spirited people in this country truly are.

Volunteers Week is a great way to salute society’s unsung heroes and to reflect on how we can get even more volunteers in the future.

Employers can help by allowing staff time off for voluntary work.

The UK also lacks a national framework for helping volunteers develop new skills they can bring to the job.

As well as giving something back to the most selfless people in our society, teaching volunteers new skills will help them make an even bigger contribution going forward.

The next Government also needs to do more to help unemployed people who want to carry out voluntary work and to recognise the value that has.

With public money tight ,austerity era Britain needs its volunteers more than ever. We should salute their contribution and let them know we care.