Masterplan to boost volunteering in Scotland is unveiled

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A national plan which aims to boost volunteer numbers and remove barriers to volunteering has been unveiled at a community shop in Glasgow

26th April 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A masterplan to boost volunteering numbers in Scotland has been unveiled.

The Volunteering Outcomes Framework aims to reduce barriers to volunteering for people from all sections of the community, regardless of their background. 

It will support third, private and public sector organisations to promote the value of volunteering.

The initiative also aims to celebrate the contributions that have already been made and will encourage everyone who wants to volunteer to take part.

The framework aims to build more links with communities, seeking opportunities to share resources and expertise at a grassroots level.

Communities secretary Aileen Campbell launched the framework at a visit to Maslow’s Community Shop in Govan, a volunteer-run shop that provides free clothing, toiletries household goods, food and English classes (beginner and intermediate) to asylum seekers, refugees and others in hardship.

Campbell highlighted that volunteering adds £2.26 billion to the Scottish economy.

She said: “Volunteering brings enormous enjoyment and advantages to beneficiaries, volunteers and the wider community. We know that volunteering has many positive benefits including increasing social and civil participation, empowering communities, and reducing loneliness and isolation. It can also improve mental and physical health, support the development of job and life skills, and foster an increased sense of belonging.

“We’ve seen an increase in volunteering in recent years, with the number of 11-16 year old volunteers increasing from 32% in 2009 to 52% in 2017. This is very much welcomed, and I hope that this framework enables even more people to volunteer. Ultimately we want to encourage and create a society where volunteering is the norm for everyone.”

The framework was developed by the Scottish Government jointly with partners from the volunteer and community sector, local government and NHS, with academics and social researchers, and with volunteers.

Its objectives are to clearly set a compelling narrative for volunteering, define the key outcomes desired for volunteering in Scotland over the next decade, to identify the key data and evidence that will inform, indicate and drive performance at a national and local level and to enable informed debate and decision about the optimal combination of programmes, investments and interventions.

George Thomson, chief executive of Volunteer Scotland, said: “Today I learned that a dead bird in a cage is the most unusual donation made to Maslow’s! So it seems all the more relevant that today’s framework launch is bringing to life volunteering in all its forms.

“Maslow’s is much more than a charity shop, it is a lifeline for Glasgow’s refugee community offering everything from free clothes to English language classes. The team of helpers at the community shop, many of whom are refugees themselves, are an inspiration to us all and show us how volunteering can help bring people and communities together.”

Carol Gilchrist, director of Maslow’s Community Shop, said that volunteers had played a key role in helping the charity to provide support to more than 300 refugees in the last nine months.

“When I first started there were three directors and we were only really planning to stay like that,” she told TFN.

“But that all changed when a young man from Sudan came in and asked if he could help out.

“That is how it all started and we now have 20 volunteers.          

“We support them to learn English and they can hone their skills in the shop. Volunteering has been massive for us.”

Ibrahim Rahmani began volunteering with Maslow’s around three years ago, having previously ran his own shop in Kurdistan, and is now a shift leader. He said: “Services like this are needed by so many people. Every month we get 155 to 160 new people coming in, and they come from up to 30 different cultures.

“I am so happy here. There is so much support whether you are an asylum seeker, a refugee or homeless. My family are also so happy in Scotland.”

Bahman Salhi is another volunteer who has benefitted greatly from his time at the shop.

He said: “When I first came here I wanted to improve my language skills – I knew nothing! But volunteering here has been like a school for me, or a college.

“I have made new friends and you can find yourself here. You get to meet new people, and I feel I can help them because I have been in the same situation to them.”

The full framework can be accessed online.