1st February 2024
At Girlguiding Scotland, we see the transformative power of volunteering every day – our 9,000 amazing volunteers bring youth work opportunities to more than 35,000 young people across the whole of Scotland.
Not only do our volunteers run activities for girls every week, but many take on team leader roles within their area or volunteer in roles like treasurers. Without them, guiding simply wouldn’t happen. It’s not only girls that benefit from being involved with guiding though. Our volunteers tell us how they love our variety of roles, the exciting new skills and experiences on offer, and the sense of personal achievement that comes with being a Girlguiding Scotland volunteer.
Like many organisations, we’re always ready to welcome more volunteers. In the last 12 months, with thanks to support from the Gannochy Trust, we’ve been exploring the impact of joining forces with employability programmes. This has been a way to recruit the volunteers we need to enable more girls to join Girlguiding groups, while also supporting individuals to change career, upskill, or enter employment for the very first time.
In 2022 we decided to reach out to women returner programmes to offer a pathway into volunteering for those looking to develop their confidence, community, or strengthen their CV. Women returner organisations AAI Employability and Making Work Work invited us to attend seminars and deliver workshops on how volunteering could benefit job seekers both personally and professionally, while also introducing the specific opportunities offered within Girlguiding Scotland. Another employability organisation, Triage, were so impressed by our offer for that they recommended us to one of the biggest Jobcentre Plus sites in Glasgow, opening the door to take this employability work one step further.
Jobcentres already advocate for volunteering, and there are plenty of reasons for that:
- 73% of employers would employ candidates with volunteering experience over those without
- Between 2019 and 2023, the number of people volunteering to get a qualification or improve their employment prospects has quadrupled from 4% to 17%
- 40% of volunteers in Scotland say volunteering improves their employability
Jobcentre Plus sites are also not just about finding a job – the ‘plus’ is the holistic service offered by work coaches to support people into sustainable employment. Not everyone who comes to a jobcentre is work-ready, and volunteering offers that space to develop confidence, routines and experiences – important stepping stones to being ready for work.
We delivered an information session to work coaches at the Glasgow Jobcentre Plus (JCP) site, explaining how our organisation complements the work they do. This became one of the 4 pillars of our employability project.
The JCPs have been incredibly supportive of Girlguiding Scotland, and the network of jobcentres we work with has spread organically through word of mouth, with multiple work coaches recommending our volunteering opportunities to their colleagues in other JCPs, who have then invited us to speak with their staff at networking events and training days. This is a clear indication of the value of what we offer.
Meeting people at the job fairs has also been rewarding, as they recognise that our volunteering opportunities go far beyond ‘just’ working with children, and job seekers really respond to the ethos of what Girlguiding Scotland is all about. Similarly, we had great responses and feedback from the women returner groups we worked with – one graduate from the scheme is now volunteering in Glasgow, and said the confidence she’s gained from her volunteer role has encouraged her to move forward and take on brand new challenges:
“Girlguiding has given me a lot of confidence to pursue something I’m not used to […] while looking to build my career. It allowed me to continue working on my soft skills I gained from previous experiences and learning how another organisation runs.”
Also key to the success of this work, has been the support of our existing volunteers, who play a key role in welcoming adults and supporting them through our recruitment processes. We’ve worked with our volunteers to identify the type of roles we need to fill in each area and made sure they’re on board with this approach before reaching out to job centres. That’s ensured we’ve been able to set clear expectations about the roles we’re looking to fill, the skills and level of commitment needed, which benefits everyone involved.
In 2024 we hope to develop this work further, supporting people in the employability pipeline all over Scotland and building exciting new partnerships.