Alex Neil MSP uses Volunteers Week to highlight the contribution volunteers make to Scottish society all year round
Up and down the country, 365 days a year, volunteers are playing a crucial role addressing the inequalities and poverty in their communities.
Whether it’s by shopping for neighbours, giving up time to help at Brownies, sitting on a charity board or picking up litter in the communities, these unsung heroes deserve to be recognised for the tremendous work they are doing.
That’s why I’m delighted to show my support for Volunteers’ Week and hope others too will take advantage of this opportunity to thank volunteers for their invaluable contributions.
In Scotland we are lucky to have around one million volunteers of all ages, working to strengthen their communities and helping those less fortunate than themselves.
What motivates any individual to get involved will vary but it is impressive to see their determination to make a difference.
I thank all the volunteers across Scotland for the work they are doing to transform and improve lives and communitiesAlex Neil MSP
The skills and experience that that they gain in doing so has an impact on all those living in our communities.
Volunteers make Scotland stronger and smarter and they help our communities become more resilient to cope with the challenging economic conditions that we will face over the next few years.
Growing up in a mining village in Patna, Ayrshire I saw first-hand the real difference that volunteers can make to a community.
When jobs were being axed and spirits were low, people in the area were coming together to support and look after each other.
While many things have changed since then, the role of volunteers and their contribution to their communities has stayed the same.
As social justice secretary it’s been a real privilege to meet volunteers and hear how they are contributing to their communities.
I recently visited the Pilmeny Development Project in Edinburgh which is working to prevent older people from feeling isolated in their community.
The project gives people the opportunity to share their skills with others. They could do some gardening, sewing or even simple repairs, and in return they can bank up time in return from others.
This is a fantastic way of making people feel valued and taking advantage of the skills people have to offer.
Closer to home this week I’ve also met volunteers at Cornerstone in Airdrie and seen the significant contribution the third sector makes and the impact it has on the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society, at the North Lanarkshire Voluntary Sector Conference.
I want to thank all the volunteers and the third sector organisations across Scotland for the work they are doing to transform and improve the lives, and the communities, of those around them. Scotland is proud of all of them.
Alex Neil MSP is Scotland's minister for social justice, communities and pensioners' rights