Final week of Festival

23rd September 2019

Stirling’s third annual Festival of Volunteering will draw to a close this Friday after a month packed with events to inspire citizens to volunteer.

During the festival nearly 30 local organisations, from Plus Forth Valley to Strathcarron Hospice, were given the chance to promote their volunteering opportunities in the Thistles Shopping Centre.

The annual festival, organised by Volunteer Scotland in partnership with Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise and Stirling Council, also saw an awards ceremony to recognise Stirling’s thriving volunteering community and several opportunities to take part in the UK’s largest participatory art project The Cube at venues across the city.

Families living in urban areas were also given the chance to visit Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park to take part in a volunteering day where they learnt bush craft, surveyed plants and took part in an archaeological investigation.

Natalie Masterson, Chief Executive of SVE said:

“As this year’s Festival draws to a close its been fantastic to see how many local organisations have come together and engaged in promoting, supporting and celebrating all things volunteering for another year. We hope this theme will continue, not just throughout September, but the whole year round, keeping the motivation and enthusiasm we have seen for volunteering these past few weeks at the forefront of our City and local communities.”

This Friday (27 September) will see the final local event in the festival calendar, Stirling Soup, which will take place in Made in Stirling, 44 King Street, 7-9pm.

The concept of Soup is simple. Diners donate £5 (or more if they can) for a lively evening of food and live music, listen to pitches from small community projects and vote for their favourite. At the end, the winner takes away all the donations to make their idea a reality.

To date the successful crowdfunding event has raised over £3000 for local causes.

Soup7 will see 4 local community projects compete for funding:

  • Katie’s Cradle – a horse rehabilitation project involving veterans and young people.
  • Invest in plants – a project looking to teach people how to recognise plants.
  • Action in Mind – for a Young Person’s Befriending Service.
  • The Kitchen at 44 King Street – a project to create a new community kitchen and cook school.

Liam Miller from Team Soup said:

“We’re excited to launch our seventh event at our new home smack bang in the middle of the city. We’re down to our last few tickets and would encourage anyone wishing to attend to secure their seat at We’re also keen to hear from anyone interested in volunteering with Soup.”

A festival of volunteering will also take place in South Ayrshire on Friday, following Stirling’s lead.

Margaret Starkie, Strategic Engagement Manager for Volunteer Scotland, said:

“It’s been great to see festival fever spread, with growing interest from across Scotland. We’re delighted to have South Ayrshire joining Stirling this year in celebrating the local people, groups and organisations that make a difference in their communities through volunteering. Anyone can get involved and festivals can be any size, from a single community event to a month-long celebration!”

Making your volunteering more inclusive – why bother?

23rd September 2019

To mark National Inclusion Week we asked Brian Scott of Glasgow Disability Alliance to share his views on inclusive volunteering,

Why would you want to make your volunteering more inclusive? What are the benefits to volunteer managers and to volunteer involving organisations if they commit to being more inclusive in their recruitment and support of under-represented groups? It’s worth thinking about these questions before taking action as there needs to be buy-in from everyone in the organisation.

There are well documented examples and there is compelling evidence that having a diverse group of volunteers directly benefits an organisation. So, how can your organisation benefit?

  • Recruitment – opening up your volunteering opportunities to a wider and more diverse mix of talent can help you with recruitment and address skills shortages.
  • Retention – volunteers in an inclusive organisation feel valued and confident and want to stay.
  • Service Users – having diversity in your team of volunteers may give you insights into service users/customers perspectives and help you better engage with people.
  • Culture – diverse teams are more dynamic and creative with new ways of seeing things and new approaches to problem solving.

It is for these reasons that the Scottish Government is working with partners and stakeholders, including volunteer involving organisations, to implement a national framework for volunteering – Volunteering for All. This framework articulates the commitment –

“There are diverse, quality and inclusive opportunities for everyone to get involved and stay involved.”

OK, so you have been convinced – how do you actually make your volunteering more inclusive? The good news is that there is already learning and best practice that you can turn to. The National Inclusion in Volunteering Group coordinated by Volunteer Scotland has produced a series of Top Tips for Inclusion.

These practical suggestions – from organisations that demonstrate best practice in inclusive volunteering – give some great examples of how to engage with and recruit particular under-represented groups such as disabled people or those experiencing poverty.

If your organisation is committed to making your volunteering more inclusive there is no better place to start!

Developing Community: Developing Creativity: Developing Skills

9th September 2019: 

The Stirling Photography Festival is a wonderful example of a grass roots project created and delivered by a team of passionate volunteers committed to working together to make something great happen in their community.

Established in 2018 to celebrate Year of Young People, the Stirling Youth Photo Festival was sponsored by the European Championship Our Place Fund. As a celebration of community, we set out to recruit and empower a young team to create and deliver a festival that was open and accessible to all. Starting with a call out through social media the original Creative Team was born. The team was made up of school pupils, university students and young professionals.

The team worked together to shape the festival, recruit contributors and partners, to promote and to deliver a fabulous programme of 14 first class events at venues across the city. The events were delivered almost entirely by volunteer organisers, contributors and hosts. Pitching our idea at Stirling Soup we raised our profile and won support from across the community. Partnerships were developed with Stirling Council and organisations such as the Creative Stirling, the Tolbooth Theatre, the Macrobert Arts Centre and local business.

The festival included a public “Our Place” exhibition hosted by galleries and businesses across the city, forming a trail designed to introduce people to some new places.

Of last year, festival founder Janie Meikle Bland says

“Putting that first shout out for volunteers was thrilling! You never know who will walk through the door – what skills, interests and ideas they will have. That’s what makes working with volunteers so rewarding. Everyone brings their individual skills and passions and throws it into the mix. It is wonderful, together they designed and delivered a first class festival!”

So enthused were the volunteer Creative Team that they wanted to do it all again this year – the theme is Hope and Passion was coined. The team also developed their manifesto for the festival. Our aim is to be accessible and inclusive, offering a variety of opportunities to learn and build new relationships. Our aim is to whilst deliver a sustainable model that establishes a festival which invests in our community, recoginses and values contributors and volunteers. Our mantra is  “Developing Community: Developing Creativity: Developing Skills”. With new volunteers stepping forward, we ran a Crowdfunder and worked with local artists and businesses to fundraise, plan and deliver our programme.

Founder member Nadia Schneider, now a third year student at the University of Stirling, has a love of film and festivals. Last year, finding herself with a long Summer ahead of her in Stirling, she saw the call out, was intrigued and came along to our first meeting at Codebase.  Nadia has been at the heart of the festival, bringing experience from film festivals as well as bag loads of enthusiasm. Nadia says of her volunteering experience

“Volunteering is the purest form of work, because it is based on respect. Respect for the people around you, respect for the people involved, and respect towards the cause.” 

This year Nadia leads on Marketing and PR for the festival, taking real responsibility, developing skills and relationships. Since her involvement she has been invited to speak about her experience at Macrobert Creative Breakfasts, the Stirling Cultural Symposium where she was a keynote speaker and at the upcoming Pecha Kucha community fundraising event.

So this August saw our second Stirling Photography Festival get off to a wonderful start with a range of venues and contributors delivering 25 events at locations across Stirling. This year we also worked closely with Artlink Central and the Macrobert to deliver joint events and exhibitions, and with nationally recognized organisations including Stills of Edinburgh, Street Level of Glasgow and the Travelling Gallery.

 The story behind the festival is built on the belief of a small group of committed and passionate volunteers that the arts and creativity has a huge part to play in building community. Along the way we have recruited more enthusiastic volunteers.

Anne Sproul, a retired scientist from Plean and keen photographer who took part as a participant last year, volunteered to help us this year. As the secretary of the Stirling and District Camera Club, she has lots of skills and experience to share with our young team. Anne says

“I really enjoyed the varied range of events at last year’s festival and thought it was a great effort from such a small team. I offered to help this year because I wanted to share my love of photography and to support this year’s programme even in small way.”

As well as being a lead volunteer at events, Anne shaped the programme this year, bringing new ideas for events and she is guiding the selection process for this year’s Hope and Passion exhibition.

Also joining the team this year is Tony-Jake Green from Denny, a second year student at Forth Valley College. T-J heard about the festival through his student network and was keen to get involved.

“Volunteering for the festival was very important to me as I had the pleasure of meeting and working with some amazing photographers and artists and learnt more about the festival, as well as how it contributes to the photography community in Stirling. I was also able to generally learn more about organising events and what is required in the role of a festival team volunteer. Now that I have volunteered for the festival, I feel even more confident in getting further involved as I get help out in promoting an art form that I feel passion about, through a festival that does it justice”

Janie said of the new team for 2019

“The young Creative Team from last year are working alongside our new volunteers. It is wonderful having such a range of expertise and skills, everyone is learning from each other and together we are able to create something fabulous for the wider benefit of our community”

Plans are now underway for the Hope and Passion exhibition. A free to enter, public exhibition which invites people of all skill levels and abilities to participate in the festival. Their works will be exhibited at venues across Stirling from the end of September.

More information about the Stirling Photography Festival is available on our website and drop us a note of you would like to get involved.


Awards prove inspiring start to Stirling Festival of Volunteering

4th September 2019: 

Stirling’s Festival of Volunteering got off to a flying start last night (Tuesday 3 September) with Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise’s Inspire Volunteering Awards.

The awards showcased the incredible local volunteer teams who dedicate their time to help others in their community, as Chief Executive of SVE Natalie Masterson explained:

“Nearly 40% of people in Stirling volunteer and our community life is vibrant as a result of the passion and enthusiasm that our volunteers bring to their roles. We made some changes to the awards this year, changing the focus from individuals to teams. We heard from our volunteers that they wanted to be recognised for the amazing work they do as a group, as volunteering is always a team effort. Our judging panel always have a difficult job shortlisting, but this year was their hardest choice yet with so many fantastic teams to choose from. All our winners and finalists should be rightfully proud of the contribution they have made to Stirling life.”

Over 120 people gathered at Hotel Colessio to celebrate the City’s incredible volunteer community in a ceremony hosted by SVE in partnership with Stirling Council and sponsored by Solicitors for Older People and The Barracks Conference Centre amongst others.

The winning organisations were:

Volunteering for Sport & Physical Activity: Mayfield Centre Recovery Café.  

The volunteer team at the café use their own experience of recovery to support. Sessions focus on getting active and enjoying good food.

Volunteer James Sludden said: “It feels amazing that the Recovery Café has won this award. A lot of people in the community have put a lot of hard work into it. We are getting people who led chaotic lifestyles into recovery. As a result, they are changing their lives. A lot of people have gone onto full-time employment.”

Volunteering for Community Impact sponsored by The Thistle Centre Stirling: RSVP Forth Valley.

The Retired and Seniors Volunteering Programme runs a variety of groups to help older people stay active and make a difference in their community, from a handyperson service to schools volunteering.

Volunteer Rosemary Fletcher said: “It is very good for RSVP to be recognised. I help recruit and place volunteers in the hospitals across NHS Forth Valley. We have over 90 volunteers in the hospitals alone. They assist with things like helping people find their way around. We also have a number of other groups from knitting to walking.”

Volunteering for Health & Wellbeing sponsored by NHS Forth Valley: Food Train Stirling

Food Train delivers groceries to over 200 customers, ensuring those most in need have access to fresh food. They also help with a wide range of practical and social tasks and run a Meal Makers Food Sharing Project, where families are encouraged to make an extra plate of food for an older neighbour. They’ve now matched 33 pairs of cooks and diners in Stirling.

Volunteer Kirsty Kennedy said: “Food Train gives so much back to the community. I have been with the organisation for 5 years. You’ve heard the saying Jack of all trades, well I’m Jill of all trades. I go out on a Monday to collect the lists; I do the shopping and I’m a driver. I also help in the office when needed. The team will be delighted to hear that we have won.”

Volunteering for Strong Organisations sponsored by Go Forth Stirling: Camphill Blair Drummond Board of Trustees

Over 300 people live, work and volunteer in Camphill’s unique setting which provides a home to adults with severe learning disabilities. The volunteer Board of Directors were recognised for their good governance and leadership.

Board Member Robert Brown said: “I’ve been on the board for more than 10 years now and I think we have the strongest board now than we’ve ever had. But it is not just about the board, it is about the whole community that we’ve got there. It’s the residents, the staff and volunteers. It’s an incredible place, everybody is upbeat, friendly and cheerful. Camphill really does provide state of the art care.”

Volunteering for the Environment & Heritage sponsored by Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park: Bannockburn Learning Assistants

The volunteer team use their personal interest in history to inspire members of the public, engaging whole families from infants to grandparents in history through their weapons handling and dress up sessions.

Volunteer Severine Peyrichou said: “It is very rewarding to receive this award for all the work we do. The team work very hard to bring history alive for people, interacting with visitors and creating a vibrant atmosphere at the Battle of Bannockburn Experience.”

Volunteering for Children & Families: Stirling Champions Board

The Board is led by a group of care experienced young people who volunteer their time to drive forward change for other children and young people in care, from delivering workshops and offering peer support and mentoring.

Volunteer Taylor McDonald said: “We’re blown away. We’ve only been running for a year, so to be recognised in this way is amazing. We’ve just completed a big summer programme for care experienced young people. We’ve also been working with the Police and Fire Service, trying to build better relationships.”

Volunteering for Inclusion & Equality sponsored by Volunteer Scotland: Ideas for Ears Community Hearing Hub

Hub volunteers use their own experience of hearing loss to improve the way in which hearing is understood and supported in public places. They campaign for change through initiatives such as the Hearing Access Protocol, a guide to ensure public meetings are accessible to people with hearing loss.

Sally Shaw said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that the Ideas for Ears Community Hearing Hub has been recognised in this way. It is a fantastic group of volunteers. Our focus is primarily on people with hearing loss, but it is also for people with other hearing conditions as well. Very often it is something that doesn’t get very much attention directed towards it. So, the work we are doing hear is shining a spotlight on something that is incredibly important to people’s sense of wellbeing and connection to other people.”

The evenings most prestigious award, The Inspire Volunteering Award 2019, was presented to Braeport Memory Café

The weekly café offers invaluable support to people with dementia and their carers, providing activities and an opportunity to relax and socialise. School children from the local primary school regularly pop along to help participants use iPads and often stay for a sing along.

Volunteer Breda Seaman said: “I am completely overwhelmed, but I would like to say that small acts of kindness make a huge difference to the most vulnerable members of society.  Just getting a group of willing volunteers together to have fun at a memory café enriches all our lives.”

Saltire 500 Hours awards were also presented to: Crista Arthur, Zaynab Hafeez, Aleena Francis Connel Laing and Jacob Doig. 

September Festival of Volunteering to expand

9th August 2019

Scotland’s Festival of Volunteering is set to return for a third year. Bigger than ever, the previously week-long festival developed by Volunteer Scotland will now run for the whole of September and over two locations: Stirling and South Ayrshire.

Margaret Starkie, Strategic Engagement Manager for Volunteer Scotland said:

“This year the festival will take place in two local authority areas for the first time! We’re delighted to announce that South Ayrshire will be joining Stirling in celebrating the local people, groups and organisations that strive to make a difference in their communities through volunteering. We’ve engaged with over 4,000 people and nearly 200 organisations since we launched our first festival in September 2017 and hope that, year on year, more communities across Scotland will adopt our festival approach to increasing volunteer participation. Anyone can get involved and festivals can be any size, from a single community event to a month-long celebration!”

Stirling’s festivities will kick off in style on 3 September with an award ceremony at Hotel Colessio to recognise and reward the efforts of local volunteers. For the first time the prestigious invite-only event, run by Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise in partnership with Stirling Council, will focus on teams rather than individual volunteers to recognise the differences that volunteering makes when people work together.

During the second week of the Festival (9-15 September), 14 local organisations from across Forth Valley will be given the chance to take over the Festival’s Pop Up stand in Stirling’s Thistles shopping centre to promote their volunteering opportunities, showcase their work and celebrate the work of volunteers.

“We have had an amazing take up from local organisations who are very excited to get the opportunity to showcase their organisation in the shopping centre during the festival. We have had great support from the Thistles in making this happen, and it’s a brilliant chance for the public to get a flavour of the diversity of volunteering that is available to them in their local area.”

Other key events during the month include crowd funding community dinner Stirling Soup,  Doors Open Days run by volunteers at Bannockburn House, an exhibition organised by Stirling Photography Festival volunteers and the chance to participate in Scotland’s largest participatory art project, The Cube. Click here for the full Stirling line-up.

A local shopping centre will also be the venue for the first ever South Ayrshire Festival of Volunteering on Friday 27 September.

Hosted by Voluntary Action South Ayrshire (VASA), the open day event at Ayr Central will give locals the chance to have a chat with local charities and community groups who are looking for volunteers.

More than 25 organisations and groups will be there on the day with advice and guidance about becoming a volunteer, including opportunities for training, learning new skills, meeting new friends and supporting the local community. There will also be live music, entertainment and a raffle to add to the festival atmosphere.

Hazel Vanzetta from VASA said:

“Inspired by the success of Stirling’s Festival of Volunteering, we were keen to put on our own event this year. The response from local organisations has been brilliant, with over 25 already signed up to take part. We hope the festival will give volunteer participation in South Ayrshire a massive boost as it has done in Stirling.”

For further details of South Ayrshire’s festival click here.

Stirling won’t give up on volunteering goals

5th December 2018

Stirling has narrowly missed out on the chance to be the next European Volunteering Capital 2020, losing out to the Italian city of Padua.

But the city has vowed to continue with its plans for a year-long festival of volunteering in 2020 and has renewed its commitment to increasing volunteering participation to 50%.

Stirling’s bid was led by Stirling Council, Volunteer Scotland and Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise.

Chief Executive of Volunteer Scotland, George Thomson said:

“We’d like to congratulate Padua on their successful bid and look forward to connecting with them in 2020. Whilst the award has not come to Stirling, our plans will still go ahead. We have a thriving, feelgood volunteer community here in Stirling – over 39% of people already volunteer – and we’re going to build on that to bring the benefits of volunteering to all. We have so much to look forward to over the next few years, from a year-long festival in 2020 to the world’s first volunteering expo in 2021.”

Stirling Council Leader, Cllr Scott Farmer said: ““First of all congratulations to Padua. While I am disappointed that Stirling has narrowly missed out on this honour, it certainly won’t close the book on this inspiring story about our citizens’ volunteering spirit.

“Regardless of the result, 2020 is going to be a celebration of volunteering in Stirling and our mission remains the same: to encourage even more people to get involved and act as a beacon to the continent about the joy of helping others.”

Convener of Stirling Council’s Community Planning and Regeneration Committee, Cllr Chris Kane said: “Padua made a strong bid and I would like to wish them well. The decision hasn’t gone our way but getting to this stage is recognition for our thousands of volunteers who make such a positive difference every day across our communities.

“The title would have been the icing on the cake, but our work now begins in earnest to unlock the full potential of volunteering in Stirling, Scotland and Europe, and I know we will rise to the challenge.”

Chief Executive of Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise, Natalie Masterson echoed this sentiment. She said: “Our commitment to volunteering growth and improving access still stands. We’re as determined as ever to reduce social isolation and close the equality gap between our poorest and most wealthy communities through volunteering.”

The city’s plans for 2020 include a year-long festival of volunteering, which is expected to involve over 70,000 people, and a European Engagement programme, offering learning and development opportunities as well as youth volunteer placements.

Stirling will also hold the world’s first volunteering Expo in 2021. For further details see here.

Welcoming the news, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government Aileen Campbell said:

“It is disappointing to hear that Stirling has lost out to Padua as European Volunteering Capital 2020. I know regardless of the result, the city will continue with its year-long volunteering festival and other events across the year. Volunteers make a vital contribution to our communities, sharing their time with people and organisations that need support. Their commitment and dedication knows no bounds. There are so many benefits of volunteering, not just to the recipients but for the volunteers themselves. Volunteering is key to our ambition of creating a fairer and more prosperous country for all and I would encourage more people to consider volunteering in their local communities.”

Stats show surge in Stirling Volunteers

28th November 2018

Stirling has witnessed a surge in volunteer numbers. According to the latest Scottish Household survey 39% of people in Stirling volunteer – more than 10% above Scotland’s national average (28%).

The figure equates to approximately 30,500 volunteers involved in formal volunteering through an organisation or group – an increase of 7% from the previous year.

Stirling held Scotland’s first ever Festival of Volunteering in 2017 and is in the running to be crowned European Volunteering Capital 2020.

The rise in volunteer numbers has been welcomed by Stirling’s 2020 bid team, led by Stirling Council, Volunteer Scotland and Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise.

George Thomson, Chief Executive of Volunteer Scotland said:

“European Volunteering Capital is more than just a title for us, we want to use it as a catalyst for change. We have a shared goal to bring the feelgood benefits of volunteering to all and have set an ambitious target of increasing volunteering to 50%. These new figures show that it’s more than possible to achieve and 2020 will be our breakthrough year.”

The EVC contest recognises regions which offer outstanding support for volunteers.

Natalie Masterson, Chief Executive of Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise said: “We know that volunteering needs a helping hand to flourish. Inclusion in volunteering is one of our key priorities and in 2019 we’ll be going out into communities to find out what we can change to make volunteering more accessible to all.”

Stirling’s bid video, outlining the city’s plans for 2020, has been unveiled by the European Volunteer Centre. View here.

Councillor Chris Kane, Convener of Stirling Council’s Community Planning and Regeneration Committee, said: “These figures highlight once again that the people of Stirling are passionate about volunteering, enriching our communities by helping others. I’m sure we’ll rise to the challenge, helping us smash our 50% target and make Stirling an inspiration to volunteering across the continent.”

If Stirling’s bid is successful, Scotland will be home to a European Volunteering Capital for the first time. The winner will be announced on Wednesday 5 December in the Danish city of Aarhus, the current title holder.

Scotland’s First Minister has backed Stirling’s bid

25th October 2018

Speaking of the city’s vision to increase volunteering participation in Stirling to 50%  and decrease the poverty related volunteering gap through a year-long festival of volunteering in 2020, Nicola Sturgeon said:

“Volunteering is one of the greatest expressions of Scotland’s values and of our shared European values.  It’s at the heart of everything we do as a government – key to our ambition of creating a fairer and more prosperous country with equality of opportunity for all, a country where everyone has the chance to make a difference. 

That is why I am proud and delighted to be adding my endorsement, and the full support of the Scottish Government, to Stirling’s bid for European City of Volunteering 2020. We have much to be proud of in our current volunteering practice and much to share with friends across Europe.  But we are ambitious for the future – for a growth in participation for all, for greater reach and impact and for building a strong body of best practice and policy internationally. Scotland is a bold and positive country offering the warmest of welcomes, rich in history and heritage and with a progressive, pioneering and inclusive approach to our future. 

I look forward to welcoming you all to Stirling in 2020 for our yearlong Festival of Volunteering.  A chance to celebrate all that volunteering offers and to build new connections and partnerships as we look to a more inclusive and participative future.”

Stirling’s bid team, Volunteer Scotland, Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise and Stirling Council, will make their case in Brussels this evening (Thursday), with the winner expected to be announced on 5 December.

Stirling stars back the city’s European Volunteering Capital bid

22nd October 2018

Stars of the screen and sport have backed Stirling’s bid to bring the title of European Volunteering Capital to Scotland for the first time. Stirling is in the running alongside the Italian city of Padua.

Stirling University alumnus and European Captain for the 2019 Solheim Cup, Catriona Matthew said: “I fully support Stirling’s bid to be named European Volunteering Capital in 2020. Having studied in Stirling myself, I know what a strong community it has, and hopefully we’ll see plenty of volunteers coming forward to support the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles in September 2019. Any participation events, no matter what their size, are reliant on volunteers – they are often the unsung heroes.”

Fellow alumnus, the playwright and author Alan Bissett has also voiced his support: “I was a student at Stirling University, both undergrad and postgrad, so lived in or near the city for eight years, and the place holds a special place in my heart. I’d love to see Europe taking notice of its unique charm and historical importance, as well as the generosity of its people.  Volunteering is something which is good for the soul and for society, whether it’s helping out in a local charity shop or being patron of an organisation that does important work. There are all sorts of opportunities in Stirling to get involved with, and this award would be a great focus for that.”

Catriona and Alan are joined in backing the bid by Stirling born actress, Simone Lahbib who returned to city in August this year as chieftain of the Highland Games. Simone said: “I grew up in Stirling, so I’m really keen for the city to get the recognition it deserves. As patron of local charity the Eilidh Brown Memorial Fund, which was set up in memory of my niece, I’ve witnessed first-hand how committed the Stirling community are to helping local good causes. Our family have been overwhelmed by how generous people have been with their time and skills to support Eilidh’s dream of building a respite home for children affected by cancer and their families.”

Scotland’s politicians as well as over 140 local businesses have also thrown their weight behind the campaign.

Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, Aileen Campbell said: “It is well known that volunteering brings enormous benefits to people and communities and also to the volunteers themselves. I want us to create a society where volunteering is the norm – where opportunity or expectation is not limited by upbringing or social circumstances. That’s why I’m delighted to formally endorse Stirling’s bid for European Volunteering Capital 2020.  Being declared a candidate city is a wonderful testament to all those volunteers who enrich the lives of our communities.  It is also an opportunity for us to show the judges that we have the potential to do much more – to inspire volunteers across the continent and encourage even more people to get involved.”

The Rt Hon Lord Jack McConnell, First Minister of Scotland 2001-2007 and Leader of Stirling Council, 1990-1992, said: “Stirling’s bid to become European Capital of Volunteering 2020 has my full support. From the town out to the University and across the rural communities, residents of Stirling volunteer at all ages and in all communities. Becoming European Capital of Volunteering would recognise all of those considerable efforts across many diverse communities and age groups, but it would also set an ambitious target to increase volunteering and therefore strengthen our communities further.”

The bid has also attracted the support of Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford: “This is an exciting opportunity for Stirling. Having met with Volunteer Scotland and others to discuss this bid, I know how much work is going on behind the scenes to win this for our city. Volunteers make a phenomenal contribution to modern life, and Stirling has a fair share of volunteers who work tirelessly to offer a range of services and support a number of causes. Wishing the team all the best for their presentation in Brussels, I will be cheering you on!”

Meanwhile, Stirling MP Stephen Kerr lodged an early day motion at the House of Commons: “Across Stirling there is an outstanding record of people contributing their time and effort in so many ways. I am calling on all Scottish MPs to support the bid by signing the Early Day Motion I have lodged in the House of Commons and it would be well deserved if Stirling was named volunteering capital of Europe.”

Representatives of Stirling’s bid team –  Volunteer Scotland, Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise and Stirling Council – will travel to Brussels on Thursday 25 October to make their case to the judging panel.

The winner will be announced on 5 December 2018, International Volunteer Day.

Bruce backs bid for volunteering capital

2nd October 2018:  

Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford has backed Stirling’s bid to become the European Volunteering Capital 2020.

 The competition is run by the European Volunteer Centre and recognises regions that offer outstanding support to volunteers. Previous winners have been Barcelona, Lisbon and London.

If Stirling’s bid is successful, it will be the first Scottish location to hold the title.

Mr Crawford met up with Natalie Masterson, Chief Executive of Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise, and with George Thomson, Chief Executive of Volunteer Scotland, to discuss Stirling’s bid.

Commenting, Bruce Crawford said:

“This is an exciting opportunity for Stirling. Volunteers in this area provide a highly valuable service to local communities and this dedication should be recognised.

“Having met with George and Natalie to discuss this bid in detail, I am impressed with the vision that Volunteer Scotland and Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise have for promoting our local area’s community spirit and volunteering opportunities.

“The organisations who have partnered up to take forward the bid are doing a fantastic job, and I stand ready to help in any way I can to promote the work of our local volunteering sector.”

George Thomson said “We want to make Stirling alive with volunteering. We’ll achieve this with a vibrant year-long Festival of Volunteering in 2020 that involves all our communities. We want to capture Stirling’s strong community spirit and the feel-good factor that volunteering brings. Starting now, we’re inviting everyone to #congainto2020 with us and back Stirling’s bid to be the European Volunteering Capital for 2020. Show your support on social media with the hashtag (#congainto2020) and share a photo or video of your own conga.”

Natalie Masterson said “We’ve been overwhelmed by the response so far. It’s great to see such strong support from local businesses, charities and voluntary organisations as well as the Scottish Government. We want people to get behind the bid for the real benefits it will bring to Stirling. The competition is more than about winning a prestigious title. As well as seeing a growth in volunteering, previous winners have attracted increased funding and resources for the training and development of volunteers, have built international partnerships for the sharing of best practice and have seen improvements to the health and well-being of their citizens.”