Let’s hear it for Scotland’s invaluable volunteers

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Volunteers week celebrates the efforts of the third sector's unpaid workers

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31st May 2016 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

The vital value volunteers provide to the third sector in Scotland is being celebrated this week.

Charities are showing how much they need the unpaid support and expertise they get from volunteers as part of a campaign which runs from June 1 – 12.

Volunteers’ Week Scotland is part of a UK-wide campaign to promote the role of volunteering.

As well as paying special recognition to volunteers, the campaign aims to remind people about the value of volunteering.

Studies suggest that around 28% of adults in Scotland formally volunteer with an organisation, and a further 42% contribute by informal volunteering. 

Together this work contributes £2.6 billion to the Scottish economy. 

The efforts made by volunteers make an enormous difference. Such a significant contribution deserves special attention

This year’s Volunteers Week Scotland includes five themes: impact, health and wellbeing, employability, fundraising and be the change.

The Scottish Volunteering Forum, a group which includes Volunteer Scotland, Voluntary Action Scotland, Children 1st, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and Befrienders Networks, is organising Volunteers Week Scotland.

Forum chairman Paul Okroj said: “Whether taking part in activities to improve the local environment, spending time with people who need help, or providing other essential services and support, the efforts made by volunteers make an enormous difference. Such a significant contribution deserves special attention.

“Volunteers’ Week Scotland is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the huge difference made by volunteers up and down the country. We want to make a big impact, and that’s why I encourage everyone to get planning and get involved.”

Chief executive of Volunteer Scotland, George Thomson, said: “Volunteers’ Week Scotland is a chance to say thank you to volunteers for their contribution and to celebrate the power of volunteering to bring communities together.

“It is also an opportunity to encourage more of us, where we can, to play a bigger role in our communities. The focus of our work this year is to encourage more people, from more diverse backgrounds, to volunteer more often.”

A range of charities have already announced their plans for Scottish Volunteer Week.

Victim Support Scotland used the week to call for more volunteers to come forward to help it.

It said that every year there are nearly 750,000 victims of crime who need support to help them through their experience and, to be able to do that, the organisation needs people to give their time.

Victim Support Scotland want to recruit 70 new people to join the team of 600 skilled, trained volunteers.   

Volunteers with Victim Support Scotland develop their skills and knowledge while making a real difference to people in their community.

Find out more at victimsupportsco.org.uk or call 0345 603 9213.

Meanwhile, counselling charity, Cancer Support Scotland, used the week – and the fact that June has been designated as Cancer Survivor’s Month - to issue an appeal for more fundraisers to help it support the increasing number of cancer patients wishing to use its free services.

Colin Graham, the charity’s chief executive, said there had been a 40% rise in the number of people seeking its support.

He said: “We have already increased our capacity and are now able to offer around 5000 appointments a year. With the rise in the number of people surviving cancer and living longer despite the illness, there is pressure on us to provide even more assistance than we can at present.”

“That is something we are desperate to do as we never want to disappoint anyone but to meet demand we need to raise more money.”

Colin has warned for several years that charities like Cancer Support Scotland do not receive adequate Government backing with the result that even more volunteers were needed to raise essential funds.

The Scouts is one of Scotland’s biggest and most prominent volunteering groups, with 8222 adult volunteers already on its books, delivering Scouting across Scotland.

It said 90% of volunteers in Scouting believe that the skills and experiences they have gained through Scouting have been of relevance to their working or personal lives and two thirds of volunteers believe there is a direct correlation between their volunteer experience within Scouting and gaining employment or career development.

This Volunteers Week, Scouts Scotland is highlighting the different roles that volunteers take on in Scouting and also how being a volunteer for Scouts has benefited people in their personal lives and careers.

Alasdair Keane, 22, is a cub scout leader from Edinburgh. He said: “Volunteering in Scouting has helped me so much in my university career, I’m just about to graduate and a big part of university life has been presentations and group so the skills I’ve learned in Scouts has prepared me for that. Also I get the chance to run training courses and present to senior volunteers, I’m not sure that many 22 year olds will have had the same opportunity.”