Thousands volunteer to help those in need across Scotland

More than 76,000 people in Scotland have registered as volunteers to help communities and public services during the pandemic.

By Neil McGrory, Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 1st May 2020, 10:45 am
Volunteers are already delivering food and medication to vulnerable people. Photo by Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images
Volunteers are already delivering food and medication to vulnerable people. Photo by Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images

Induction programmes are preparing volunteers for their duties and many are already delivering food, getting essential supplies and medication to vulnerable people and phoning people who need assistance or companionship.

In NHS Scotland, 700 people have been offered employment while more than 3,600 former staff are preparing to return to work.

The Scottish Government is temporarily suspending its Scotland Cares campaign, which launched last month, as it prepares to launch the next phase of its strategy.

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So far, more than 35,000 people have signed up with Volunteer Scotland to help charities and community groups, almost 19,000 will help the British Red Cross support public services and more than 23,000 health and social care workers and students have either joined the service or returned to work.

Communities secretary Aileen Campbell said: “The Scotland Cares Campaign has been massively successful with more than 76,000 new sign-ups offering their support in the month since it opened.

“In addition to the thousands of amazing volunteers who were already giving their time and energy to help their communities, I want to thank each and every person who has signed up. I am sure I speak for everyone across Scotland when I say we are appreciative and grateful for this public spiritedness which will ensure people across the country get the help and support they need.

“The response from the public has been so tremendous that we are now pausing our recruitment. Not all volunteers who have signed up will be needed immediately, but I’d like to stress that volunteers will be critical in our efforts to support and rebuild our communities and many of those who have not yet been called on to help will play a vital role over the weeks and months to come.”

Red Cross volunteer Emma Morrow is preparing food parcels to be delivered to vulnerable people in Glasgow. She said: “It’s great to see everybody pulling together. It’s really fulfilling to know that by doing a few hours work I am going to help somebody that can’t get out the front door.”

Rosemary Lowne is a telephone befriender in West Dunbartonshire, making weekly calls to elderly people in the area.  She said: “I absolutely love my role as a befriender.

“My callers say that our weekly chats really lift their spirits and reassures them that there are people looking out for them. I strongly believe that now more than ever ‘it’s good to talk’ and to let people know that they are not alone. The feedback I’ve received has been wonderful.”

British Red Cross emergency response operations manager Robert Colburn said: “With our added capacity we are looking forward to finding new opportunities for our regular and community reserve volunteers to help the most vulnerable in the days, weeks and months ahead.

“Every single person who signed up with us is joining a force of thousands ready to help in their local community now and in the future, whenever crisis strikes.”

CEO of Volunteer Scotland George Thomson added: “A pause in recruitment is the correct action just now as we move to connect the wonderful offers of support from so many citizens from all our communities to meet local needs.

“Beyond the lockdown we will have a massive recovery challenge ahead, and we aim to engage this incredible first wave of volunteers before seeking others in future.”