International Volunteer Day 2016
5 December 2016
Today is International Volunteer Day and an opportunity to recognise the global nature of voluntary action.
Some years ago I was in Australia and was learning about the kinds of volunteering happening there.
I was very struck by how the culture, geography and history of the country shaped its volunteering. There were, for instance, a high number of volunteer fire fighters working alongside the professionals. This was due to the remoteness of places and the risks from fire, flooding and inclement weather conditions. A tradition of folk helping each other out. There were generations of families who were continuing with the role of volunteer fire fighter.
Shark attack volunteer watchers on the wonderful Australian beaches are another testimony to a life style and unique conditions of the sea life and risks.
In neighbouring New Zealand family group conferencing had been designed as a legal requirement as a way of tackling the iniquity of the system of child care around Maori families. This entailed bringing all the family and extended family together to work out between them how to address deep issues about child care. A brilliant model adopted by other parts of the world, including Scotland, with collective approaches and mutuality at its heart.
In South America the role of the Catholic Church has shaped a great deal of volunteering activity especially around caring roles.
So Scotland’s volunteering, for me, is an expression of our identity, our culture, history, economics, and politics. And our world view. I heard the inspirational John Loughton (Dare 2 Lead) recently and he said that there were 3 key themes to guide us; confidence, creativity and compassion.
Applying these to today’s celebration I believe that we can have the utmost confidence in the human capacity of our people to meet our needs, the creativity for change and innovation around how to meet our needs, and the compassion and non judgemental feelings towards each other and our communities.
Read more about International Volunteer Day and the #GlobalApplause campaign.