20th December 2022
Happy Holidays from Volunteer Scotland
We close a fantastic year with some final words from across our organisation.
2022 has been another challenging year for volunteering but there’s also been positive change and long-term gains. In June, we launched Scotland’s ’10-year’ Volunteering Action Plan, the culmination of 18 months of collaborative effort with unprecedented stakeholder involvement. Midway through the year we saw the Cost-of-Living crisis emerging and acted quickly to evidence the likely impacts, to raise our concerns and to involve sector colleagues in helping to mitigate the worst effects. We continue to act in ways that improve volunteering in the long-term. This year, we’ve ensured that volunteering is reflected in wider policy (backed by robust evidence), we’ve built on the success of Volunteers’ Week and now plan a wider schedule of national events. Our commitment to standards and our offer of an ‘improvement journey’ for any volunteer involving organisations, is unwavering.
We welcome 4 new Trustees to our Board:
Research and Evaluation
In February 2022 ‘The Road to Recovery‘ was published, the culmination of our research on the impact of COVID-19, and detailed guidance on the ‘Routemap to Improvement’. This was quickly followed by Volunteer Scotland’s analysis of the Scottish Household Survey 2020, which highlighted the important contribution of informal volunteering during the pandemic.
However, as the first signs of recovery were evidenced in the summer, we had to re-focus our attention to understanding the impacts of the emerging cost of living crisis. With the support of the British Red Cross and the Scottish Government we fast-tracked our report ‘Testing our Resilience’, which highlighted the worrying impacts on volunteering and volunteers in Scotland.
We would like to thank the wide range of organisations that invited Volunteer Scotland to discuss these findings at 10 conference presentations and workshops delivered during November and December. The theme of our research during 2022 has been ‘perma-crisis’!
As we come to the end of 2022 it’s natural for us to reflect on our challenges and successes over the past 12 months. Our main highlight this year has been the further development of Volunteer Friendly and the work with our colleagues within the TSI network. This partnership approach has not only been enjoyable but has enhanced the quality and extended the reach of Volunteer Friendly within Scotland.
Through this work we created and have now launched the Volunteering Quality Pipeline which for the first time creates a space for all groups and organisations to further develop their volunteer practice, while celebrating their success and sharing with others what is working for them and their team of volunteers. We also understand that this year has presented significant new and ongoing challenges for many volunteer practitioners, and we are very proud to have supported them via our well-established training programme both online and face to face.
The practice team would like to thank you all for your support and commitment to our shared goal of support good volunteer practice and developing a great volunteer experience.
On the 30th of November, we were invited, along with SCVO, to give a briefing to MPs from Scottish Constituencies about the impact of the Cost-of-Living crisis. Nine MPs attended and there was broad support for several of our key asks. You can find the briefing submitted to MPs here.
The 30th of November was also the date we sent a joint letter with various partners to Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, expressing our concerns at the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on volunteering. You can read the letter here.
December has also been a busy month for government and parliament consultations. We responded to four in total, including the National Discussion on Education, the National Discussion on Dementia Strategy, the Inquiry into female participation in sport and physical activity, and the Skills delivery independent review. You can find them all here.
Finally, we responded to the Scottish Budget announcement expressing our concern at the lack of additional support for the voluntary sector and volunteering. Given the publication of Scotland’s Volunteering Action Plan this year and the challenges many organisations and volunteers are facing as a result of the cost-of-living crisis, we were hopeful of increases at least in line with inflation. You can find the response here.
Our Partnerships have continued to grow during 2022, we extended our Volunteers’ Week working group to take on a Volunteering Action Plan action to Coordinate national recognition and celebration initiatives. We have held 3 virtual Cross Party Group meetings and are excited to hold our first hybrid CPG in January. Our work with SCVO on a Joint Messaging Campaign has also restarted this year and we are looking forward to supporting this in the coming year. We also sponsored the Volunteer of the Year Awards at the Scottish Charities Awards.
As part of the IT team we also launched our new organisation website volunteerscotland.net which is more accessible for users.
It’s been a year of change and reflection. Our Disclosure Services team began transitioning to a new, improved service – while this will take several years – the sector is beginning to feel the benefits through reduced wait times. We look forward to building on the solid foundations we’ve created in 2022 and we’re ready for the challenges that await us in 2023.
A final message from our CEO
Merry Christmas from all at Volunteer Scotland
2022 has been another challenging year for volunteers and volunteering and 2023 looks to be no different. While not fully emerged from the pandemic we’ve moved quite seamlessly into a Cost-of-Living crisis. This is putting huge strain on services and volunteering programmes. For many years, we’ve highlighted the importance of putting volunteer work at the centre of all our plans – it’s never been more vital. Volunteering is a source of good for individuals (volunteers and beneficiaries), communities and society.
The last few years have seen the volunteering sector move ever closer and act together within our communities and at the national level. We’re now working in new ways to address common challenges. That work will continue. We are one part of an infrastructure network that includes TSIs that exist to support volunteering programmes and ultimately volunteers. Our request is that you continue to be open to that support.
I’m looking forward to 2023 but not in the hope that our situation(s) improve but more in the knowledge that we’re able to respond and act together to address any challenge and to continue to positively develop volunteering for the long-term.
I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
CEO Volunteer Scotland