Cat Campbell, Age Scotland’s Information and Advice Volunteer Development Worker reflects on Volunteers Week and how we carry its’ message forward.
This week I saw the following tweet from Volunteer Scotland:
And I thought what a great – and important – message to round off Volunteers Week. As you may know, Volunteers Week, this year running from 1st – 12th June; is a UK-wide celebration of what the thousands of volunteers across the country do for charities and other organisations, and the benefits that being a volunteer can bring.
Volunteers Week was extended by 5 days this year in order to include the Patron’s Lunch, and we had a wonderful 12 days celebrating and thanking our volunteers. But it doesn’t stop there. At Age Scotland we recognise that, like many organisations across the UK, we simply could not do what we do without the incredible support and enthusiasm so kindly gifted every week by our amazing volunteers.
Some of our volunteers make calls every week to isolated older people who then have the opportunity for a friendly chat, a laugh or someone to listen. Others help keep our shops functioning or support our fundraising events; raising money so we can support local older people’s groups. Others facilitate training sessions for people approaching retirement so that the attendees can make the most of later life. Age Scotland could not accomplish all of this (and more!) without them.
And it’s not all about us! It has been proven that volunteering is good for you. A recent study by the University of Exeter and National Council for Voluntary Organisations found that volunteers live longer and have more satisfying lives. It can also give you a sense of purpose and makes a great addition to a CV. It can enable you to use your existing skills or learn new ones.
Age Scotland is proud to be part of the Scottish Volunteering Forum, which aims to bring people and organisations that are passionate about volunteering together – increasing awareness, sharing understanding and raising uptake.
In 2015 the forum published a really interesting document: ‘Why volunteering matters, the case for change’. It encourages people to ‘be the change’. We need to move volunteering in people’s consciousness from something that is nice to do, to something that is essential for the wellbeing of individuals and society, if the number reaping the benefits is going to increase.
Volunteers’ Week is a great opportunity to thank volunteers but that shouldn’t stop just because the week is over.