Are you a volunteer?
Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes and volunteering roles also come in all shapes and sizes, indeed you may not even immediately think of yourself or others as volunteers.
Volunteers’ Week is the petfect time to reflect on what exactly we think of volunteering. During Volunteer’ Week organisations including Volunteer Scotland, SCVO and the Third Sector Interfaces have been thanking, showcasing and celebrating volunteers all over the country. Third Sector organisations have shown their appreciation for their volunteers by taking part in awards ceremonies, presenting certificates and highlighting the fantastic work done by their amazing volunteers.
Volunteering takes many forms and some are very obvious like working a shift in a charity shop, donating your time as a befriender to a refugee arriving in this country or sharing your skills as a trustee on a board. All clearly identifiable volunteering roles. Other types of volunteering may not be so obvious and we may not immediately define it as volunteering. There’s the parent who helps sell raffle tickets at the playgroup fundraiser or helps out on the school trip or the young man who cuts his older neighbours grass or collects their newspaper for them. Is this volunteering, is this being neighbourly or is it ‘just what you do’?
All these small acts and larger acts add up to a lot of volunteering in our society. The Third Sector is largely held up by volunteers and the public sector is supported to a greater or lesser degree by the volunteering that exists across these services.
There are staggering figures available detailing the amount of hours given in volunteering, the equivalent in monetary terms and the benefits this brings to our society. I’m not going to go into figures and percentages here. Suffice it to say that it is eye-watering!
Without this level of volunteering activity many services simply would not exist and the value goes way beyond the task, expertise or time donated.
This huge amount of volunteering may appear in various guises, it may not even be called volunteering. You may be a ‘charity champion’, an ‘ambassador’, a ‘helper’, an ‘active citizen’, ‘engaged with a charity’, ‘knowledge or skills sharer’, an ‘unpaid professional’ or ‘just being neighbourly’. You may volunteer as an individual, as a family, as a group or with workplace colleagues.
All of the above is essential and irreplaceable and needs to be acknowledged for what it is. For all the recognisable volunteering being applauded and celebrated by the many organisations during Volunteer’s Week, let’s also acknowledge and thank all those who are contributing to this huge and valueable resource.
Now, let me ask my question again.
Are you a volunteer?