Communities alive with new army of volunteers

An army of 30,000 new community-based volunteers have been recruited across Scotland by a network of organisations and members and over 3000 community groups supported directly by the TSI Scotland Network – of which Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway (TSDG) is a member – to help communities respond to the Covid 19 pandemic.

The numbers were revealed on the eve of Volunteers’ Week, the UK-wide annual event in recognition of volunteers.

The TSI Scotland Network is an established network of organisations across Scotland, funded by the Scottish Government to provide support to the third sector including charities, community groups and social enterprises.

Alongside this work, it leads on inspiring and sustaining volunteering and providing a voice for the sector in community planning and health and social care partnerships.

The Network has played an essential role in liaising with existing and new community response groups, and providing volunteers and volunteer support to organisations as well as helping funnel funding to mitigate crisis, poverty and isolation issues from the start of the pandemic.

Norma Austin Hart, Chief Executive Officer of TSDG outlined the incredible value of volunteering to the local area.

“We have been overwhelmed with the number of people coming forward and wanting to take an active role in our civil society when there has been a crisis – it clearly shows that the heart-beat of communities is alive and kicking,” she said.

“Matching these people to local groups or volunteer roles, who have not previously registered for volunteering or been volunteering informally has allowed us to truly understand the impact they can have and it is important and exciting how Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway as part of the TSI Scotland Network can continue to ensure they can play a role not only now, but in the future in shaping and supporting their own communities.”

The TSI Scotland Network has been at the centre of delivery on place-based development work underway over the last few years and embodied in the Community Empowerment Act and other community-focused strategies including supporting asset transfers, participatory budgeting and development of sustainable social enterprises and community wealth-building.

TSDG’s CEO is excited by the opportunities that the recent rise in volunteering offers for the future.

“When there has been such a far-reaching people-based crisis it has shown that the solutions, the volunteers and organisations on the ground, can often show the leadership within their own communities to meet the needs of the most vulnerable,” she said.

“As we follow the road map to recovery, the TSI Scotland Network will be arguing for continued resources to be made available to build on this social capital so that these volunteers and groups can play a key role in continuing to sustain that spirit of renewal within their communities in the future. Scottish Government and Local Authorities are working closely with the TSI Scotland Network now to enable that vision to be explored and realised.”