Efforts of Scottish volunteers celebrated

Seabird centre volunteers with their award

Organisations took the time to recognise their helpers during Volunteers' Week

8th June 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Organisations across Scotland have been paying tribute to their volunteering heroes this week.

Volunteers’ Week kicked off last Friday (1 June), with this year’s calendar of events taking on a theme of volunteering for all.

The Scottish Volunteering Forum, which organises Volunteers’ Week, has said it is keen to encourage more people in Scotland to volunteer their time and skills and highlighted a range of opportunities and case studies throughout the week.

And organisations across the country have celebrated the many talents of their hardworking volunteers.

Morna O’May, head of service at Contact the Elderly in Scotland, praised the work of those who host the charity’s Contact Teas parties, and gave a special mention to younger volunteers.

“It’s wonderful to see the generation gap shrink as the youngsters interact with our guests who are thoroughly enjoying this new element to our parties,” she said.

“Loneliness has become an epidemic in Scotland and is sometimes closer to home than many of us want to admit. We believe no-one should be totally cut off from social contact and are so grateful that so many people all over Scotland are willing to step in to help ease a situation that can really blight the lives of older people.”

Balfron High School pupil Jacob Bell, 14, completed his volunteering hours for his Duke of Edinburgh award with the charity and said it is something he would recommend.

“I have managed to push myself out of my comfort zone whilst making conversation with some amazing people,” he said.

A team of volunteers at the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick had an extra special start to the week when they learned that they had been granted the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Fundraising for the original centre was made possible with a buy a brick campaign run by local volunteers from a Portakabin in North Berwick High Street before the centre opened in 2000. Since then, volunteers have continued to fundraise and help with the charity’s running.

Chair of the Seabird Centre volunteers, Sandy Forrest said: “This is just an amazing award, and totally unexpected.

“The volunteers really enjoy helping at the Scottish Seabird Centre as we have such a varied experience, from assisting with school groups; to meeting visitors from the local area and from other countries of the world; and getting involved with the conservation and environmental activities so valuable to our community. We particularly appreciate working with a young, committed staff who make it possible for us to support them in their endeavours.”

St Vincent’s Hospice in Renfrewshire was another group which gained the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

The charity’s volunteer services manager Elaine Grealey said: “We are absolutely over the moon to have received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, and cannot thank everyone enough for everything they have done to make this possible.

“We have more than 200 volunteers at St Vincent’s, and this award is a testament to the incredible and vital work that they do every single day.”

The Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity has highlighted the work of retired teachers and lifelong friends Jill Rennie (60) and Cathie Lees (59), with the organisation keen to recruit more helpers.

Shona Cardle, chief executive of Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “The work that Cathie and Jill volunteer to do is absolutely vital in ensuring the children being treated at the hospital do not miss out on learning while they’re in hospital. We are incredibly fortunate to count people like Cathie and Jill among our team of committed volunteers – and we’re very proud to be part of the ladies’ lifelong friendship.

“National Volunteers’ Week is coming to a close, and we hope it encourages even more fundraising volunteers to our team to join us at events across the country. Whether it’s shaking buckets, cheering on participants or supporting local fundraising initiatives, every minute given really does count.”

The National Trust for Scotland marked the end of the week by launching a new project geared toward providing a tangible outcome for those who give up their free time to help the charity protect Scotland’s heritage.

Pathways to Success: Accrediting the Volunteer Experience is a three-year programme that will establish the trust as an accredited SQA assessment centre and allow it to offer an award in volunteering skills, providing participants with formal recognition of their contribution.

Scouts Scotland also embraced the theme of volunteering for all by promoting the amount of diverse opportunities available with the organisation.

Barry Donald-Hewitt, deputy chief commissioner of Scouts Scotland said: "Volunteering is vital to scouting; we simply would not exist without our volunteers. We believe that everyone who wants to be a member should have the opportunity to join, and to do that we need to recruit more volunteers.”