Supporting our volunteers and VOY 2024

Last week – during national volunteers’ week – we had an opportunity to recognise the achievements of volunteers who had been nominated for an award by their peers and local community.  Whilst the ceremony at Ardfern for the Volunteer of the Year Awards 2024 highlighted the work of particular individuals and teams in our communities, it struck me from the comments made by so many volunteers that they were in fact celebrating the overall work of their fellow volunteers and the communities they supported.  In that sense then all of our volunteers are winners!

Across Scotland 69 per cent of voluntary and community organisations were entirely volunteer led (OSCR, May 2024) and I suspect in Argyll and Bute that figure might well be higher.

The context for volunteering and the communities they support is of course challenging. The cost of living crisis combined with continuing financial pressures in the public sector means that there are increasing hardships in our communities and of course volunteers have felt the pressures themselves of our current economic climate. Demand for volunteer provided community services will only increase – no matter who wins the next election – and it is important that we find ways to support our volunteers.

That is why, following consultation, at the beginning of July we will introduce a new volunteer and employee assistance programme – which is free to TSI members. Spectrum Life, an Irish company who already work with Highlands Council, UHI, Strathclyde University, and the Scottish Government, will deliver the service. This initiative will support 1,700 people across our membership, both volunteers and employees. Some of those working in our sector will encounter the trauma of others or they may need support with their own life events.  

Spectrum Life will provide, if needed, up to six counselling sessions per issue per person, a digital wellbeing app, live fitness classes, discounts, and advice on financial, debt, and legal matters. We are proud to be the first TSI in Scotland to offer this level of support.

I hope that those of you working with volunteers and third sector staff will take up the service as your teams deserve it!

Watch this space for details of how to sign up and find out more.