100,000 thank yous! Celebrating our young volunteers
Guest blog from Elaine Gibb, Development Manager at Voluntary Action Scotland
The past week has been full of inspiring stories about volunteers and the difference they make to communities across Scotland. As we reach the end of Volunteers’ Week 2017, Voluntary Action Scotland and the Third Sector Interface (TSI) Network are delighted to celebrate a significant milestone in Scotland’s volunteering landscape.
The Saltire Awards, the Scottish Government’s national youth volunteer awards, has now awarded over 100,000 certificates since its launch five years ago. The Awards celebrate the important contribution and achievements of young volunteers aged 12-25. It therefore seems appropriate to share a couple of our volunteer stories and to show the benefits volunteering can bring to the individuals involved too.
Aaron, 21, from Glasgow, has transformed from a painfully shy teenager unable to communicate effectively with people to a confident student who is a true ambassador for youth volunteering in Scotland. Starting out as a charity shop volunteer during secondary school, Aaron’s volunteering journey now also includes acting as a Youth Legacy Ambassador for the Commonwealth Games 2014; supporting youth projects in Easterhouse; a mentor on a range of youth programmes and projects and a STEM Ambassador – actively encouraging school pupils to pursue higher education and a career in science, technology, engineering and maths. Through Volunteer Glasgow he is now a Volunteer Champion, and helping the European Championships recruit volunteers to help support the event.
Sinead aged 20, was referred to Voluntary Action East Renfrewshire. She suffers from severe anxiety and found the idea of having to work with people, particularly those she didn’t know, extremely worrying.
What she loved most though and was happiest doing was working with dogs. She was matched with a local organisation which rehabilitates stray dogs and has volunteered there for the last four months. Her confidence has grown considerably and she now speaks to groups about the benefits of volunteering. She is currently undertaking an online animal behaviour course accredited by the Edinburgh Dick Veterinary School and applying for kennel staff jobs.
In our experience young people don’t volunteer for the recognition or for reward – first and foremost they are interested in giving something back. However we think it’s is important to say thanks and this is what Saltire Awards is all about.
We also want to recognise the valuable input of the Third Sector Interface network. By continuing their development work at a local level and encouraging sign up to the Saltire Awards, we hope to inspire even more young people to come on board and safeguard the culture of volunteering for generations to come.
Read more about Aaron’s and Sinead’s stories.