Volunteer Week celebrates the contribution volunteers make to Scottish society
The vital contribution volunteers make to the economy and the social fabric of Scotland has been recognised in a week of celebration.
Volunteer Week, which started on Monday, is designed to acknowledge the breadth of the work volunteers do in almost every sphere.
George Thomson, chief executive of Volunteer Scotland, which is co-ordinating the event, said: "Volunteering is an important element of a healthy civic society. It provides a key benchmark against which we can measure progress towards participatory democracy and it helps us to understand the extent to which a community is participating in making a difference in social, economic and cultural wellbeing.
“I congratulate those volunteers across Scotland who gave their time, energy and enthusiasm to volunteer for various activities and roles over the past 12 months.”
We must stop seeing volunteers as a commodity and adopt a person-centred approach instead. It’s time for us to view volunteering differently
He said it was important to refocus what volunteering is and what it means: “The focus of our activity during Volunteer Week and beyond will be on the need to move away from the traditional recruit and retain paradigm to one that listens and responds to the wishes and needs of the person who wishes to volunteer.
“Projects we are undertaking endorse this view and provide an invaluable insight into the views and needs of each individual who wishes to volunteer.
“We are not meeting the requirements of those who would like to give of their time. We must stop seeing volunteers as a commodity and adopt a person-centred approach instead. It’s now time for us to view the world of volunteering differently.”
Volunteer Scotland’s events arranged for Volunteer Week included an event in the Scottish Parliament with the cross-party group on the voluntary sector and volunteers and MSPs to recognise the contribution made by volunteers.
Thomson added: “It is crucial that the voice of volunteers is heard not only during Volunteer Week but during the rest of the year. The challenge will be not only listening but responding to what the volunteers are telling us.
“Volunteer Scotland embraces this challenge!”
The state of volunteering in Scotland
A survey by Volunteer Scotland showed that 42% of adults in Scotland, almost 1.9 million people, said they volunteered “informally” by helping out someone outside their home, who isn’t a relative.
Informal volunteering means things like babysitting or childcare, transporting or escorting someone to an appointment, looking after someone's house or pet.
Figures show that 30% of those aged 65 and over volunteered informally and were less likely to volunteer than those aged 35-55 or 55-64.
This suggests that those over 65 are more likely to benefit from, rather than participate in, informal volunteering.
The survey also found that those in higher socioeconomic groups were more likely to volunteer informally than those in lower socioeconomic groups.
When it came to formal volunteering, work undertaken with organisations or groups, the vast majority (81%) said they volunteered in the voluntary sctor, with 15% in the public sector and only around 7% in the private sector.
Public sector volunteering might include volunteering for a local school, hospital or library while private sector volunteering includes volunteering at a private nursery or museum.
Overwhelmingly the findings suggest people volunteer locally: 86% said they carried out their activities within their local authority area. This suggest that most volunteering activity is local or community based.
A small proportion (7%) of those currently volunteering reported wanting to increase the number of organisations or groups they volunteered for, while around 19% of those not currently volunteering wanted to start or restart volunteering with an organisation or group.
Around 40% of people who weren’t currently volunteering had done so in the past, but had stopped. 22% were volunteering at the time of the survey and 42% had volunteered in the last 12 months.