Blog: Together We Can - International Volunteers Day

2 December 2020
A large group of street pastors all posing for the camera. Some are holding dark blue caps in the air.

What facts do we know about volunteering in Scotland?

We know that 48% of adults in Scotland have volunteered. That's over 2.17 million people in 2018 contributing 361 million hours. This has provided £5.5 billion to the local economy.

We know that the Volunteering Support Fund which Impact Funding Partners manage on behalf of the Scottish Government has supported 127 organisations across Scotland to work with 12,845 volunteers from different backgrounds (add visual).

Of these 12,854 volunteers, 282,588 hours have been contributed to:

  • community garden projects
  • youth skills development
  • support for isolated families
  • rural development
  • the fight against food poverty and homelessness
  • the provision of opportunities for asylum seeker and refugee communities

These figures will only increase as the fund does not end until March 2021.

We’re only weeks away from leaving 2020 behind us. What have been your key challenges or successes over the last year? What are the key events you remember?

Could it be reports of the countless volunteers helping members of their community with prescription pick-ups, food shopping, garden clean ups or dog walking?

Or perhaps, the many people who found themselves on furlough eager to help a local food bank ensure families who were in need got healthy and fresh food. Maybe it was the volunteers supporting a hot food delivery service or hearing that someone’s shielding elderly relative was receiving weekly wellness calls from a volunteer.

Whatever it is you remember from 2020, let it be examples of the lasting impact of volunteers up and down the country have had on our communities.

On Saturday 5th December, the UN’s 35th annual International Volunteer’s Day takes place and this year’s theme is #TogetherWeCan.

International Volunteers Day provides a global opportunity to showcase the work third sector organisations are doing to build resilient and inclusive communities, promote youth volunteering, engage volunteers from disadvantaged backgrounds and celebrate the life changing it can have in our communities.

The celebration, management, support and involvement of volunteers is a collective effort. Here at Impact Funding Partners we recognise the strong value working in partnership can have on funded organisations. Recently, we held a session for funded organisations on Slack to share how they are celebrating volunteers this year. Personalised Christmas cards, festive themed goody bags (supported by other local organisations), Christmas craft sessions and Christmas wreath workshops were some of the creative ideas shared!

The role of Third Sector Interface is invaluable for communities throughout Scotland and the involvement at Cross-Party Groups enables the work being done by volunteers to be showcased to a wider audience.

More can be done though, and it can be done by working together.

There is a wealth of knowledge and connections within our local communities and the successes and challenges within these communities provide ongoing learning and developmental opportunities which can further shape and grow volunteering in Scotland.

There are many inspiring examples of partnership working taking place all over Scotland. ‘Walk in the Park’, a project being delivered by Loch Lomond & The Trossachs Countryside Trust through the Volunteering Support Fund is providing weekly walks for over 250 people at six locations around the National Park.

Susan Warren, Transformation Director for the organisation said,

“Until recently the main route for volunteer recruitment was from our existing pool of walkers. The partnership with Job Centre Plus in Dumbarton has been a very important step for us in diversifying our approach to recruitment, and providing opportunities for new audiences to become part of the programme.”

2020 has certainly been life changing and the impact of the pandemic will be felt for many years to come and for many different reasons. My role within the Volunteering Support Fund team has enabled me to have a close insight into the way third sector organisations have adapted to the challenges and I can see the benefit formal and informal volunteering continues to have in communities across Scotland.  

Volunteers across Scotland have united, come together and have demonstrated that they are, as we knew all along, #NeverMoreNeeded. It is for that reason, volunteering in Scotland will continue to be recognised through ongoing support, development and resource.

Please follow the UN Volunteers social media channels: @UNVolunteers and use the hashtags #TogetherWeCan and #IVD2020 to be part of the global conversation. Our social media channels will also be actively highlighting the contribution volunteers have made to Scotland over the last year – so keep a look out and tag us in your posts too on Twitter and Facebook!

The blue heart emoji will be associated with the IVD2020 and contribute to building the campaign image that conveys a positive feeling, solidarity, and compassion toward volunteers. You might also consider using the #IWill hashtag which will show your support to ensuring there are opportunities for participation in volunteering and social action for all young people in Scotland.

After hearing from some of the #TogetherWeCan examples in this blog, what would you adapt or do differently to maintain and develop volunteering as we enter 2021?