Volunteers Week - Highlighting how you can make the difference

The effort of volunteers can be seen in the work to develop the towns Foyer Project garden. Left is the garden before the clean up and right you can see the new garden in the background,  as volunteer Ian Paul receives the Kisimul Award  from development worker Bellann OBrien for his commitment to the project.
The effort of volunteers can be seen in the work to develop the towns Foyer Project garden. Left is the garden before the clean up and right you can see the new garden in the background, as volunteer Ian Paul receives the Kisimul Award from development worker Bellann OBrien for his commitment to the project.

Volunteer Centre Western Isles is teaming up with thousands of charities and voluntary organisations across Scotland in a celebration of the vital contribution made by volunteers.

From 1-7 June 2017, Volunteers’ Week Scotland will see a huge range of events take place in communities all over the country, from small awards ceremonies to large celebratory gatherings.

Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes from the pupils of Eoligarry school who helped with a local beach clean.

Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes from the pupils of Eoligarry school who helped with a local beach clean.

The Volunteer Centre Western Isles is encouraging all local organisations and clubs to take the opportunity to celebrate the fantastic role played by all the volunteers who dedicate their time, skills, energy and enthusiasm in our communities.

Suzanne Macaulay, Joint Manager at the Volunteer Centre said: “Volunteering has a massive positive impact on the lives of people across the Western Isles; we have one of the highest rates of volunteering across the UK and are proud of this.

“We encourage local organisations to celebrate Volunteers’ Week by taking the opportunity to thank their volunteers for the fantastic role they play to support work carried out in the community in so many ways.

“The Volunteer Centre can provide a toolkit to help people get involved in Volunteers Week and we would love to hear from organisations that plan to take part.

Nicolson Institute Volunteering trophy winner for 2016 was Aoife Macrae.

Nicolson Institute Volunteering trophy winner for 2016 was Aoife Macrae.

“We will be sharing volunteer stories throughout Volunteers Week to highlight the amazing volunteering taking place across the Western Isles.”

Volunteers are vital to the strength and vitality of Scottish society, with their work valued at £2.6 billion every year.

Last year there was a record breaking 900 events across the country in celebration of Volunteers Week

In the ‘you make the difference’ message this year there is also a call to action to others to think about what they can do. How can you make the difference?

Donald, Neil and Donald at the recent Befriending Lewis event.

Donald, Neil and Donald at the recent Befriending Lewis event.

For many organisations Volunteers’ Week is also be a chance to recruit new volunteers and showcase the range of volunteering opportunities on offer and so we also hope that it helps to inspire people to find out more about opportunities locally, take part and try volunteering for the first time.

Recent research found that Scotland’s young people are particularly engaged, with participation now at 52% - nearly double the adult figure of 27%.

With so many people volunteering, there are a huge range of achievements to celebrate.

Whether working to improve the local environment, spending time with people who need help, or providing other kinds of essential services and support, the efforts made by volunteers make an invaluable difference to the lives of people and communities everywhere.

As well as celebrating the work of existing volunteers, Volunteers’ Week Scotland offers a new opportunity for voluntary organisations to promote the benefits that volunteering can bring.

The week can also help highlight how people can access opportunities and overcome any barriers they might be facing.

The Scottish Volunteering Forum is encouraging as many people as possible to take part.

Forum Chairman Paul Okroj said, “Volunteers’ Week Scotland offers a rare opportunity to mark the huge difference made by volunteers all over the country, and to catch the attention of potential new recruits. Don’t miss out on what’s set to be an inspirational week.”

Chief Executive of Volunteer Scotland, George Thomson said: “People volunteering in Scotland are uplifting. They are creating community solidarity and friendship. Volunteers Week is a good time to celebrate their honesty and humanity.

“In a world which is becoming very uncertain there is one certainty that will not change, that people in Scotland giving time within their communities is uplifting by building friendship and solidarity. Volunteers Week is a good time to celebrate this.”

Befriending Lewis Volunteers

Mocktails and music were enjoyed at St Columba’s Church Hall recently in a group befriending session organised by Befriending Lewis. Guests of all ages were treated to lunch, played bingo and other games, as well as sampling different, healthy smoothies. Music was provided by Luisa Barron and friends and the Coop, Tesco and Stag Bakeries were much appreciated contributors to the refreshments. The wonderful volunteers mucked in with everything - driving minibuses, helping prepare food and drinks, chatting to the guests and supporting them playing games. Befriending Lewis is an organisation supporting people suffering from loneliness and social isolation, which offers face to face, telephone and healthier lives (gym buddies) befriending as well as the group sessions. Contact 01851 702632 or info@befriendinglewis.org.uk if you would like to get involved in volunteer roles.