Youngsters benefit from volunteering

26th September 2018:  

Stirling’s Festival of Volunteering came to a close with an event aimed at ensuring volunteering is more inclusive for young people.

Young volunteers have highlighted what they feel is important to ensure greater participation in volunteering.

Stirling’s Festival of Volunteering drew to a close yesterday (Tuesday 25 September) with an event aimed at creating a more inclusive future for youth volunteering in Scotland.

Communities secretary Aileen Campbell visited the Tolbooth in the city to hear from a panel of young people on what their experiences of volunteering had been, and what can be done to help encourage more people to give up their time

The panel said that volunteering had helped them gain increased confidence and life skills, but that transport was often a barrier to taking on placements and that more has to be done to improve society’s view of the values of volunteering.

Campbell described volunteering as the golden thread that runs through all areas of politics, and highlighted that it is worth £2 billion to the economy every year.

She told TFN that it is vital that young people have the opportunity to volunteer, and that they feel valued when they do decide to give up their time.

“It’s really inspiring to hear from young people who have had a positive experience of volunteering,” she said.

“I was interested to hear how they felt that their lives wouldn’t have taken the same paths without volunteering.

“Through the education system, and the Curriculum for Excellence, we aim to ensure that young people have the opportunity to take part in volunteering, which can help them to feel confident, empowered and have their voices heard.”

The politician was quizzed on what experiences she had of volunteering, and how important it is to society. Campbell also had the chance to ask the panel what they get out of volunteering and what whether more can be done to support volunteers.

“It was very interesting to hear from the young people on what changes they think could be made and what we should be focusing on,” she said.

“There should be placements available for every young person who wants to take part. There is always more for us to do and it’s clear that young people feel that they should feel valued when they decide to volunteer.”

The week-long festival attracted more than 1000 people to a series of events, from conferences to celebrations including a 15th anniversary afternoon tea for SVE’s Supported Volunteering Programme.

Natalie Masterson, chief executive of Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise, said: “It was lovely to see so many past and present volunteers, organisations and supporters turn out to acknowledge the impact that this project has had on so many people’s lives. Having the opportunity to listen to personal accounts from the volunteers themselves was particularly inspiring.”

This year’s festival took place as Stirling bids to be named European Volunteering Capital 2020, amid plans to get half of the local population volunteering.

By Gareth Jones, Third Force News, 26th Sept 2018: