‘Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain love for one another.’ Erma Bombeck
This week is Volunteers’ Week – an annual celebration of the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. This year, Volunteers’ Week focuses on saying ‘Thank You’ to all the volunteers who regularly contribute to society, and on recognising the way that organisations celebrate the work of volunteers across the UK.
Volunteering takes time, commitment, dedication and passion. So why do millions of people volunteer in Scotland each year? Perhaps some of the short stories below can answer that question for us.
“I applied to volunteer at Dyslexia Scotland because I felt I had skills to offer an organisation dedicated to something that has great significance to me. I have the opportunity to gain new skills, while applying the skills I already have and contributing towards Dyslexia Scotland’s mission. I have only been volunteering with Dyslexia Scotland for a short time, but I am really enjoying it and feel it is also benefiting my long-term goals. After graduating from university, I have found it difficult to get a graduate job in my field; I have a full time day job (only in part related to my career aspiration) and feel that volunteering will give me a chance to expand my horizons while making a real contribution.”“I volunteer with my local dyslexia group, Dyslexia Scotland Forth Valley helping out at their open meetings which they hold throughout the year. Volunteering is important to me as I enjoy meeting new people and catching up with the many friends that I have made through my volunteering role.”“Having finished a contract for a job where I felt undervalued, I wasn’t ready to apply for another job, but I needed something worthwhile to give my day some structure and my self-worth a boost. In the past I volunteered with Citizens Advice Direct as a Helpline Adviser so I was encouraging a former colleague to think about volunteering to help her job prospects – and I realised it was something I should consider myself. One visit to the Volunteer Scotland website and I found an opportunity to help Legal Services Agency organise seminars and training courses. It was right up my street! I spent 6 months helping the Seminar Manager make sure events ran smoothly. I devised a new feedback form and collated all the course evaluations for the past year to make reporting easier – but I never learned how to work the dishwasher. When I saw my current post advertised, I knew that my two spells as a volunteer meant I had relevant, recent experience to talk about at the interview – and it worked – or I wouldn’t be writing this now.”“I have found volunteering such a great thing to do. I have volunteered many times with my local Archery Club at ‘Come and Try’ events where the public gets the chance to try archery – possibly a sport that they have never tried or thought of before. I have stood out in the rain for hours, dealt with children as young as 3 or 4 years old where the bow is bigger than them!, as well as having to contend with fully armoured re-enactment knights all keen to find out how to shoot arrows out of a bow! To see the delight on a wee kiddie’s face when (or if) they hit the target is such a buzz!! Or to see a grown man fail miserably to hit a target a 10 year old can manage easily is quite a laugh but adds to the fun of it all. Local clubs do rely heavily on volunteers to do these events to raise awareness, raise money etc., so I never fail to volunteer whenever I can.”“I worked with people with learning disabilities for nearly 15 years and I missed the interaction with some amazing people. I now occasionally volunteer as a supporter of self advocacy groups of people who need support to have their voice heard in their local communities. I have also recently agreed to become a Trustee of a small advocacy organisation for people with learning disabilities – so after years of sitting in on board meetings I will now be taking part in them! I’m looking forward to the new skills this will give me as well as the chance to meet some really inspiring people.”
We would like to extend a huge thank you to all of the volunteers at Dyslexia Scotland who keep our wheels turning. Without your hard work, dedication and compassion, Dyslexia Scotland really would struggle to run as a charity. So thank you, thank you for your hard work, your dedication, your passion and your smiles!