Let's take Volunteers’ Week back for volunteers
29 May 2015
Volunteers' Week is now a firm date in the diary but as a volunteer, what does it mean for you?
At Volunteer Scotland, Volunteers' Week provides an opportunity to remind our politicians and change-makers that volunteering is not only a great thing but it's the lifeblood of our communities.
Volunteers' Week is also a time for us to encourage organisations to re-focus their attention on you, to better understand the difference 'you' make and to remind them (?!) to say thank you (and not just in June!).
I personally wish that we didn't need Volunteers' Week for this and that we could position it more explicitly as a celebration (in a sense give it back to you, the volunteers).
During the Games being a volunteer was pretty cool
When I think about a celebration, I think about a party, a chance to make new friends and renew bonds. I think about fun. A celebration of volunteering is no different in my mind. The Commonwealth Games has probably come closest to providing this.
During the Games there were no cajoled 'thank you's and no need to convince politicians or others of 'your' importance. They saw it. They felt it. The biggest party was happening in Scotland and volunteers were at the heart of it. During the Games, being a volunteer may not have been 'The Fonz cool' but it was still pretty cool.
But of course we can't have a Commonwealth Games every week or even every few years. What we can do however, is take this week in the calendar as our own and celebrate in a way that makes most sense. Perhaps use it to have a barbecue, share a drink, throw a party, catch up with our friends (volunteers and non-volunteers alike). We could get to know our fellow volunteers a bit better or renew ties. On our next shift we can make volunteering that bit more fun. Starting in June but then continuing all year round. Now that's a celebration of volunteering.
I'd like Volunteers' Week to become just that, your week. No reminders, no guidelines, no public expressions of thanks for one week only, no photoshoots. I'd rather join you for a pint, a burnt sausage and a friendly chat than remind an organisation to say thank you to those that are already doing so much.
I'm not sure we're there yet and Volunteers' Week is still important for organisations like ours. However, going forward perhaps we could aim to take Volunteers' Week back for volunteers, make the focus a celebration in the truest sense.
In doing this and hopefully at some point in the not too distant future, we might just find that we no longer need a Volunteers' Week.
Have a great one.
Your comments are as always, most welcome.
Volunteers' Week runs from the 1st to the 7th of June, inclusive. If you want to discuss any celebrations you're planning use the #volunteersweek hashtag. If you want to share your experience with others append #ivolunteer to any of your social media posts.