Celebrating 100 years of Save the Children and the Island volunteers making a difference

Some of the Stornoway volunteers.
Some of the Stornoway volunteers.

Founded in 1919 by sisters Eglantyne Jebb and Dorothy Buxton, Save the Children now works in more than 100 countries and currently responding to emergencies with appeals for Yemen, East Africa and Syria.

With a more recent history, the Stornoway branch of Save the Children opened its shop doors back in 1984 and has been generating a large amount for the charity every year through shop sales and monetary donations directly to the branch.

Back in 2009, it warranted a visit from HRH The Princess Royal, now Patron of Save the Children, to recognise the work done for the charity in our small community.

Pat Maclean, manager, spoke of the success of the local branch, which is staffed entirely by volunteers, said: “Our volunteers are the heart of the shop. We have some who have been with us for many, many years so we’ve got something right.

“There is a good atmosphere as people get on with the daily jobs required to keep the shop running.

“Of course, volunteers benefit too by making friends, learning new skills and most importantly, helping others less fortunate.”

Since 2012, the civil war in has displaced 11 million in Syria with Save the Children continuing to respond with essential items and reuniting children with their families.

All the charity’s programmes focus on five main areas: health, education, protection, child poverty and child rights with over 27 million children reached through the charity’s health and nutrition programmes last year.

The Stornoway branch is very well supported by the local community through a variety of fundraising events each year, with collections at supermarkets, donations from local schools, businesses and organisations, as well more recent ideas like the Christmas Jumper Day and Peppa Pig Muddy Puddle walk.

They also recently held their annual soup and pudding with proceeds of over £600 being donated towards areas affected by cyclones Idai and Kenneth in East and South Africa.

Kitty MacCuish, Branch Chair, noted the importance for those donating to be able to make the link between their donation and how it helps people on the ground.

She explained: “The cyclones hit Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe in mid-March, destroying areas of crops just when they were to be harvested.

“As well as providing united aid, Save the Children assisted with the provision of seeds, so that farmers could replant for a second growing season which were necessary to prevent food shortages and to make families self-sufficient again.

“The creation of sustainable long term models for development in these affected areas bring about vital changes following disaster.

“It takes several years to rebuild villages and their infrastructure e.g. health centres and roads, in areas affected by disaster.

“Vital projects to reduce the impact of flooding and cyclones, such as reforestation and flood resistant crops, take a long time to be established.”

Having made huge progress over the past century, Save the Children’s need to continue the fight for children sadly does not lessen, with children more at risk in conflict that any time in the last 20 years, with one in six worldwide affected by war.

If you would like to help, the Stornoway branch on Kenneth Street are looking for enthusiastic volunteers in a range of roles, whether it is serving in the shop, processing Gift Aid donations, ironing, pricing or speaking out about the charity’s work in the community – there are always jobs to be done.

The shop has more than 30 volunteers from a range of backgrounds and age groups and those who are interested can request an application form or telephone the branch on 01851 705713 to find out more.

“We are really well supported with local donations,’”says Pat, “which of course the shop couldn’t exist without. It takes a dedicated team to run the shop on a weekly basis and we’re always looking for committed volunteers who can spare few hours.

“Anyone aged over 18 is welcome to pop into the shop for an application form and we’ll take it from there.”

For those who wish to donate goods, the shop readily accepts donations of clothing, shoes, bags, household goods, music/dvds and bric-a-brac, which can be handed in during the shop’s opening hours on Mondays – Saturdays 10am until 4.30pm.