Volunteering has got wings!

26 April 2019

What a pleasure to be a guest of Maslow's Community Shop in Govan yesterday (Thursday 25 April) for the launch of the Scottish Government's new Volunteering Outcomes Framework by Cabinet Secretary Aileen Campbell MSP.

Gt Blog

It was so refreshing to witness a launch in a community setting where all aspects of the wide volunteering family were in evidence. No podium, no set piece event. Simply an appreciation of the difficult realities that many people face, and inspiration from how community leaders and volunteers have responded to refugees’ needs and have created a wonderful community spirit.

I got talking with Carol Gilchrist who founded the community shop. Her daughter had helped her see the need to respond to people's basic requirements such as shoes and Maslow's was born. I loved the thinking. Maslow's hierarchy of needs starts with ensuring that we have the food, safety, shelter, but aims to help us all find our true potential.

The community shop is, in fact, a treasure store of goods, of stories, of caring people, of generosity, laughter and humour. It's an international community with volunteers helping out from all parts of the globe, unified in a common cause of mutual help and making a positive difference.

Donated items become talking points. Like a pair of binoculars: " what's a zoom? How do you pronounce binoculars?" Conversations that can help a refugee learn about things in a meaningful way, including Glasgow slang!

A dead bird in a cage was the most unusual donation to the shop! We had a better laugh than the dead parrot sketch fromMonty Python. I shared my own story of my mother from Aberdeen being heard saying " doona heidi cheekie.” Our total confusion was finally solved when we realised that she was feeding her own bird called Cheekie!

More seriously, the dead bird in a cage got me thinking about what's dying in volunteering and what's alive? Dead as a Dodo is the "unpaid work" way of thinking about volunteering. That was clear when we ran a commUnity bubble workshops in Glasgow Caledonian University recently. To afford to go to University you need paid work. Whilst helping out and being part of University life is essential, taking on unpaid work duties and commitments was not at all attractive for most students.

The volunteering family at Maslow's is built around community spirit and strong relationships. It’s a place full of life and vitality. It exists through a mix of different kinds of voluntary contributions, some formal and others informal, but it is founded on social action through camaraderie.

Well done to the Scottish Government for both helping the funding of the shop and for recognising that the vision of the new framework of "Volunteering for All" is very much alive and kicking in the wonderful Maslow's community shop. Let's fly!

For the full story and link to the Framework click here.