COUNTY residents are being encouraged to embrace the ‘Big Society’ idea and help provide services for the community.

Gloucestershire County Council has just launched an online resource for people who want to find out more about what they call the Big Community Offer.

The site offers information about how people can step forward to provide a community facility, become a volunteer or apply for community grants.

It also gives details for people who want to take over council buildings.

Leader of the council Mark Hawthorne said he wanted encourage local people to find out more about volunteering.

"The Big Community Offer is a fundamentally new approach for this council and I am excited to see it taking shape because I firmly believe this will help communities to help themselves," he said.

"The information we’re making available online on both our own website and the new Volunteering Gloucestershire website will give people the chance to find out more about what’s involved."

The Big Community Offer is all part of the authority’s money saving programme. More than 30 buildings or assets worth millions of pounds will be handed over to communities to run for themselves.

To make the transition more manageable local people offering to run the services, such as libraries or youth clubs, will be offered the buildings for a peppercorn rent or offered up to 50 per cent asset share.

The council will be offering one-off small grants from a pot of £50,000, which will be available to groups to help kick-start their local projects.

In addition to this, there will be £50,000 available per district to help voluntary groups provide services for young people.

The council has teamed up with NHS Gloucestershire to help fund Volunteering Gloucestershire.

Hazel Lonsdale, who leads the Volunteering Gloucestershire Partnership, said: "More people than ever before are volunteering in Gloucestershire and this is testament to the community spirit in the county. We have years of experience in advising groups involving volunteers and would urge grassroots organisations to contact us, should they need advice on setting up new community initiatives in their area."

For more information visit the website,