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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Volunteers' Week: 40 years of celebrating a vital force in our communities


“Volunteering is priceless but I think it is important to recognise that its estimated value to the Scottish economy is £2.3 billion.”

Volunteering must be recognised for the vital role it plays in holding our communities together.

That was the message as Volunteers’ Week started – and marked its 40th year.

The event, which highlights and celebrated the role of voluntary action in our communities was established by the UK government in 1984, with Volunteering England leading the initiative to honour the millions of volunteers who contribute to causes across the country.

Volunteer Scotland joined in on the campaign as participants and partners in 1986 and its focus has remained the same ever since - to recognise volunteers’ efforts, inspire future volunteers, and showcase the positive impact they have on communities.

At a launch event for the 40th Volunteers’ Week in Stirling, Shirley-Anne Somerville, the Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for communities, said: “The amount of time and commitment and enthusiasm that volunteers have given is something we need to take a step back and recognise.

“Thousands of people from all over the country make vital contributions to every single part of our society. They do it without fanfare, they do it without financial reward. But they do it because it’s the right and the valuable thing to do. And because of the impact it has on their communities.”

She said the range of what volunteers do was brought home to her as she participated in judging Fife Voluntary Action’s annual awards, the winners of which have yet to be announced.

Speaking about the wider sector, she added: “The sheer scale of volunteering organisations is something which I don’t think is recognised as much as it deserves to be. There are 46,500 voluntary organisations active, with turnover of £8.5billion. That’s an enormous impact and shows how important the sector is.”

And specifically on volunteers and volunteering, the cabinet secretary said: “Volunteering is priceless but I think it is important to recognise that the estimated value of formal volunteering to the Scottish economy is £2.3bn.”

She spoke of the need to get rid of some of the barriers to volunteering, and pledged: “I’m determined to get the message about its importance right across government.”

Volunteers themselves also told their stories. Eileen Stewart from Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland and Neil Murray from Stroke Association spoke of the transformative role volunteering has played in their lives.

Scottish celebrities, including Still Game's Sanjeev Kohli, also sent messages of support and celebration.

Volunteers’ Week Thank You - Sanjeev Kholi on Vimeo

Events celebrating Volunteers’ Week will be going on across the country till Sunday, 9 June.

Many will take part in awards ceremonies, coffee mornings and days out during the week. Festivities will then culminate with The Big Help Out, aimed at encouraging even more people to become part of the volunteering community.

Volunteer Scotland chief executive Alan Stevenson said: “Happy 40th anniversary, Volunteers’ Week! This is an amazing milestone for a campaign that recognises the diversity of our volunteers and celebrates the difference that volunteering makes in Scotland and across the UK.

“This year, Volunteers’ Week is celebrating in style with a revamped brand and new ways to get involved. It has a fresh look but a consistent message—join us and let's celebrate volunteers and volunteering this Volunteers' Week.”



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