Inclusive volunteering to be celebrated

Volunteering fest

Stirling's Festival of Volunteering is set to return as the city bids to be named the European capital of volunteering

6th September 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A calendar of events that celebrates the work of volunteers is set to return later this month.

Stirling’s Festival of Volunteering will take place from 19 – 25 September, with a focus on inclusive volunteering and building strong communities.

This year’s event will be extra special as the city is aiming to be named European Volunteering Capital 2020, and organisers will be presented with their candidacy certificate at the festival’s closing ceremony. The winner of the competition, which recognises regions which offer outstanding support for volunteers, will be announced in December.

A host of events are planned for the week-long festival and Volunteer Scotland chief executive George Thomson said that he hoped it would help to spark ideas for getting more people involved in volunteering.

He said: “The festival is not just about recognising existing volunteers, it’s about reaching people who experience exclusion from volunteering and bringing communities together.

“We know that the current system of matching volunteers to roles doesn’t work for everyone. If we want to see increased participation, we need to rethink volunteering and look at what motivates people to volunteer.

“We’ve found that people are looking for opportunities that allow them to make a meaningful contribution and connect with others. For many people that’s about finding ways to help out in their own communities that match their interests.”

There’ll be plenty of inspiration on offer at the festival’s family day at King’s Park on Saturday 22 September (12-4pm), with over 30 local organisations and charities set to take part.

Family day organiser, Margaret Starkie said: “We’ll have lots of free activities to entertain the kids from a bouncy castle, water walkers and bubble football to a silent disco, sports taster sessions and arts and crafts.

“We’ll also have our Community Bubble tent where you can make giant bubbles, find out what builds strong communities with our giant Jenga game, write your own community prescription with advice from our ‘doctors’ and become a researcher for the day with our citizen scientists.”

The festival will also see Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise (SVE) celebrate the 15th anniversary of its Supported Volunteering Programme with a special afternoon tea for past and present volunteers on Thursday 20 September.

Natalie Masterson, SVE chief executive, said: “In the past 15 years the programme has been privileged to help over 500 volunteers with extra support needs to find and maintain a voluntary placement within Stirling’s community.

“In turn, they have given their time, energy and enthusiasm to community causes across the Stirling Council area.

“During the festival we want to celebrate all volunteers, but there is something special about individuals who have faced adversity and yet still give their time to help make our communities a better place to live.”

The festival will draw to a close on Tuesday 25 September with a Youth Volunteering Conference at the Tolbooth, co-designed and co-delivered by young people. The event will bring together practitioners, young volunteers, policy makers and researchers to discuss the challenges and solutions to engaging young people as volunteers.