For 17 years I have been running the city’s volunteer centre - part of ACVO Third Sector Interface which connects individuals, good causes and the support they need. I am responsible for maintaining a database of Aberdeen opportunities for over 80,000 volunteers.
There are currently 530 opportunities from one-off events to regular volunteering and lots for teams. I am contacted by four or five companies every month. Aberdeen Standard Investments, Shell Outpost and the Oil & Gas Technology Centre circulate our weekly opportunities to their staff. Sometimes businesses help with a particular event while others give set time off work.
The range of volunteers I see extends from a 13 year old helping Future Choices and a 101 year old volunteering with Childline. We at ACVO are hugely grateful for everything they give and like to shout about it
I co-ordinate the Scottish Government Saltire Award scheme locally. This takes me round schools, embedding voluntary action into the lives of young people and recognising the freely given hours of 12 to 25 year olds.
We clearly see that the next generation are interested in companies’ values – and are good at identifying what is real. Aberdeen faces skills shortages and needs to keep young people here. Caring businesses showing dedication to their staff and communities are clear to see. Corporate volunteering opportunities help businesses to really extract deep understanding of their city and of their teams. By putting their corporate social responsibility policies into action, with ACVO’s help, they can address significant issues facing their futures.
Businesses like Thorpe Molloy, who like Aberdeen Standard Investments are affiliates of ACVO, really push themselves to do more –scaling rain-drenched mountains in order that Mental Health Aberdeen could provide more youth counselling.
Kellas Midstream were recognised by ACVO’s ‘Your People, Our Communities’ campaign for working in the Inchgarth garden; and Aberdeen Football Club provided holiday food and fun to children reliant on free school meals. Another aspect of volunteering is serving as a trustee for a charity or providing pro bono help. There is something for everyone.
Volunteers’ work plays a vital part in the NHS too with 500 people working alongside clinicians. We all know how overstretched the health and social care services are and volunteers bring something additional to brighten the day. Great work is done, for example, by Therapet volunteers and Grampian Hospital Radio.
My own volunteering is a good illustration of the range available – I have a radio show on SHMU FM every Wednesday at 14.00 called ‘Why Don’t You?, I give half a day per month to Cornerstone accompanying a service user to things like shows at His Majesty’s Theatre; and one of my favourite activities has been helping the work for homeless people of Aberdeen Cyrenians – chopping neeps and squeezing oranges.
But I am squeezing more than fruit – I’m squeezing every drop of goodness I can for people in need from the time I can give. It’s not difficult. It is vital.
Can you squeeze out a bit more good for your business and your community by contacting ACVO TSI and seeing how we can help you help others? www.acvo.org.uk