Celebrating Volunteer Week

Giving Back to Your Community
by Josh Sprott, Govan Network Member

These are difficult days at the moment, with most of us trying our best to relieve the stress of the responders to the Covid-19 epidemic, such as the NHS, whilst at the same time, having great compassion for the challenges that they are experiencing during this public health crisis. We need to also recognise another group of warriors during this pandemic-our country’s amazing volunteers. Its Volunteer Week, and it has never been more important to celebrate and thank the thousands of volunteers that have stepped forward to lend a hand during the pandemic, while being as careful as possible to not get the virus. The Red Cross, for example, has started up a volunteer support line for people going through lockdown, providing them with essential items such as food & medicine as well as emotional support in these trying times. Moreover, there is the Glasgow North East Community Support; an organisation entirely volunteer led, which helps communities such as Parkhead, Haghill and Shettleston, takes the much needed provisions to people who can’t get them otherwise.

The response from people willing to volunteer their time has been inspiring and demonstrates the resilience and kindness of the citizens of Glasgow. Let’s also not forget about the people volunteering all over the world taking part in vaccine trials, who are willing to go through the process if it means they can try to change so many lives for the better. These are just some of the vital volunteers that are helping out in this crisis. Volunteers contribute £22.6 billion to the UK economy (Voluntersweek.org) which is a staggering statistic. All the example above showcases fantastic individuals willing to give their spare time to support people in need, no matter the risk. Volunteers should therefore be recognised and celebrated now more than ever during this pandemic. It is also important to recognise all of the volunteers that have had to take a step back from their volunteering roles during the pandemic, but hopefully they will be able to go back to doing all their good work in the near future.

Now would I recommend volunteering to you? Absolutely! I have had experience at being a volunteer myself, of course this was before the outbreak, nevertheless it still felt great, so I would highly recommend it if people are thinking to do it. Volunteering is a noble profession that increases your confidence. I remember when I first got interviewed at the age of 18, I begged not to go on the till as I was sure that I would singlehandedly cause Oxfam in Byres road book shop to go bankrupt! However, once I got into the swing of things; thanks to those around me, it was an amazing confidence booster as I mainly worked on the till, learning important life lessons along the way. Ultimately, volunteering aids people who are vulnerable, no matter if they are those effected by situations such as right now or if they are people who have always struggled to catch that lucky break. It’s also human nature to want to help people. As well as a volunteer for Oxfam, I am also a member of the Govan Network of Neighbourhood Networks. The organisation supports individuals to learn new skills, become more independent and to achieve their life goals. There are many other members that also deserve a shout out for their volunteering efforts and their amazing generosity to their local communities. These members include:
• Stuart McIntosh-Giffnock/Thornliebank Network member-Volunteer Gardener at Greenbank Garden in Clarkston and the Hidden Gardens in The Tramway
• Steve Lynn-East Kilbride member-Volunteer Shop Assistant at The Kilbride Hospice Shop.
• Briege O’Donnell-East Kilbride Member-Volunteer Café Worker-The Kilbride Hospice
• Ben Brown-Penicuik Member-Volunteer Community Lunch Assistant-Penicuik Community centre and The Nest Café.

So, why not join me this week in celebrating and giving thanks to all of the wonderful volunteers in our communities!