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Volunteering in Today's Economic Climate

Any redundancy in the economic climate being experienced in the north east of Scotland is more than a statistic. There is a human element behind each lay-off. People who have worked in the oil and gas sector across the globe, many since leaving full time education a long number of years ago, encounter shock and fear for what their future holds at finding themselves in this situation. How would you cope if you were made redundant?

People want to use their time doing something meaningful while keeping their skills up to date but don’t know how to go about finding such an opportunity. One way is by volunteering with a local charity or third sector organisation. The individual has an opportunity to us their skills. A charity or not-for profit organisation benefits from the support offered when a skills gap is filled so the result is a win:win arrangement all round.

Here are a few reasons to volunteer: 

  • You have a chance to give something back to an organisation which has had an impact on the life of someone around you
  • You want to make a difference to people who are in a less fortunate position through ill-health or disability
  • It is an opportunity to develop new skills / gain confidence / meet new people and build your network of contacts
  • You want to build up your existing experience and knowledge to enhance your CV.

ACVO, the third sector interface, runs Aberdeen’s Volunteer Centre. Mike Melvin, the organisation’s Volunteer Coordinator says, ‘Volunteering has a positive effect on local people. It is a fantastic way of donating your expertise to help third sector organisations. Volunteers have fun – give it a try.’

ACVO has a dedicated Business Skills Volunteering programme. Ian Gourlay ACVO’s Business Skills Advisor and a volunteer himself added ‘we assist business skilled volunteers find challenging and rewarding opportunities with charities/third sector organisations, often in roles where they can provide leadership, advice and professional support. Skilled volunteers make an impact on the successful running of the organisation. It is a great way for people to use, retain and develop their skills while making a positive impact in the community. ACVO welcomes contact from any individuals or companies whose staff may be interested and benefit from getting involved in business skilled volunteering.’

Saltire Challenge Award

The Saltire Awards are a fantastic Scottish government backed initiative which provides recognition to those aged between 12 and 25 years old who are involved in volunteering.  With an increased understanding of the concept of “wider achievement” in higher education, beyond simply considering academic qualifications, the Saltire Awards represent an excellent way for youngsters to enhance their CV’s and differentiate themselves in what is a highly competitive employment landscape.

The Saltire Challenge Award is a one-off team volunteering event and the ideal introduction to volunteering.   It is designed to give young people an initial experience of volunteering but in the comfort zone of a team. It may be organised by the young people themselves with support from the Saltire Award Development Worker (alan.clark@acvo.org.uk), a teacher or youth worker or they can opt in to a pre-arranged session.  A challenge normally consists of a day's worth of volunteering taking part in activities such as beach clean ups, gardening projects, regeneration projects and loads more. After completing a Saltire Challenge you will be issued with a Saltire Challenge certificate. Volunteering hours from a Saltire Challenge can be used towards either the Approach or the Ascent awards.

So if you have a team of people eager to get involved in a team volunteering activity, please get in touch with Alan Clark on alan.clark@acvo.org.uk.

What are you waiting for??!

Volunteering…….a path to employment

When I reflect on my time at university, some of the happiest memories come from my involvement with the hockey club.  Having been a keen hockey player during my studies, I was keen to continue playing during my university studies and my time as a member of the hockey club was hugely enjoyable, both in terms of keeping me active and importantly, the social aspect.  It was a fantastic way of meeting other people at university, but as with all clubs and societies, it would not exist without the hardwork and dedication of the students who volunteer their time.  All of the committee members play a key role in making sure the clubs/societies run smoothly and provide an ideal opportunity to get involved in voluntary work at university whilst also continuing your hobby.

The Saltire Awards are a national initiative, supported by the Scottish Government, which acknowledge, celebrate and reward the commitment and contribution of volunteers aged 12-25.  You are able to develop and follow your volunteering journey through the 4 Saltire Award levels, details of which can be found on the website - https://saltireawards.org.uk/.  However, many students in clubs/societies at school or university do not think of themselves as volunteers and as such, do not seek formal recognition for their efforts.

I am sure you can all think of someone you have met, either at school or at university, who throw themselves into extra-curricular activities.  During my studies, I was fortunate to be on the hockey club committee with David Sweetman who epitomised everything a club or society would wish for in a President.  He was 100% committed in his endeavours to the hockey club, and was always willing to take on extra responsibilities.  A talented player on the pitch, he was equally talented and committed off the pitch and his diligence ensured all aspects of the club ran smoothly.  In addition, he also took added responsibility on the North Hockey board, the first time a student had held the position of President, and was well regarded by everyone within the hockey club and the North of Scotland hockey scene.  After graduating, he took up the role of Vice President Sports at Aberdeen University before entering the workplace on the graduate training programme with Diageo in 2005.  In January 2014, David was appointed CEO of Scottish Hockey where he is responsible for leading and developing the organisation and he continues to volunteer outwith his day job.  He believes the voluntary positions he held during his studies provided an excellent platform for his career:

“I wouldn’t be in the role I’m in, if I hadn’t volunteered at University. I volunteered at the time, and still do because it is a sport I love. On reflection the skills I learnt around relationships, people management and finance were invaluable. While the skills looked good on the CV, they came into their own for the practical experiences of graduate interviews, assessment centres and starting in my first job.

Volunteers are critical for the running of any sport in Scotland. For Scottish Hockey we have hundreds of volunteers on a national, regional and local level. From our president and board members, all the way through to captains, coaches and umpires supporting their local clubs. Without these individuals, our sport wouldn’t happen.

Awards such as the Saltire Awards are a great initiative, as they give the opportunity to recognise individuals who are giving their time and effort to volunteer.”

So if you are currently involved in a club/society at school or university and have not registered for the Saltire Awards, we would encourage you to do so.  In an increasingly competitive jobs market, it is important to include extra-curricular activities you are involved in, over and above your academic achievements.  The focus on wider-attainment has never been sharper, and the Saltire Awards provide an excellent opportunity to gain formal recognition for your efforts as they are government backed.  The registration process is simple, so get involved and visit https://saltireawards.org.uk/

Written by Alan Clark, Partnership Development Officer with ACVO TSI


Saltire Awards - Frequently Asked Questions

My name is Alan Clark and I joined the volunteer centre in Aberdeen in December 2015.  Part of my role is to administer the Saltire Awards in Aberdeen.

So what are the Saltire Awards?

The Saltire Awards are a national initiative, supported by the Scottish Government, which acknowledge, celebrate and reward the commitment and contribution of volunteers aged 12-25.  You are able to develop and follow your volunteering journey through the 4 Saltire Award levels, details of which can be found on the website - https://saltireawards.org.uk/.

What is volunteering?

Although some voluntary work is very obvious in its nature, other activities that people get involved in can often be overlooked and these misconceptions can result in people not coming forward to claim their awards.  For example, if you are at university and are a sports captain or part of a committee, that is voluntary work and would be eligible for a Saltire Award as recognition.  Or if you are at school, and are taking part in a voluntary activity in your lunch hour or after school, you could also be eligible.  If you are in any doubt at all, please feel free to get in touch with me and I can point you in the right direction and provide you with some guidance.

I bet it is really difficult to claim the certificates?

Not at all!  It is really very simple.  All you have to do is register on the website to set up an account (which will take about 2 minutes).  Then you log back in to record your hours once they are completed (which takes about another 2 minutes).  Once we have contacted your supervisor to confirm the hours, we will process the relevant certificate (10 hour award, 25 hour award, 50 hour award, 100 hour award, 200 hour award, 500 hour award) and send it out to you.  It really is that straightforward.

Why should I register?

Youth volunteering is on the increase and it is fantastic that so many young people are using their spare time to volunteer.  This is a government backed initiative to recognise the valuable contribution made by youth volunteers and is an opportunity to enhance your CV and gain recognition for the voluntary work you have done.  In an increasingly competitive jobs market, it is important that you try to showcase the range of skills you possess, over and above academic qualifications, and the Saltire Awards are a great opportunity to do this.  To give you an example, in a previous job, I was involved in graduate recruitment for multi-national oil and gas companies where we could receive 250-300 applications for 1 graduate job.  With such competition for jobs, it is important that you do what you can to make your CV stand out, and the Saltire Awards can provide an opportunity to do this.

What should I do next?

If you are interested in signing up for the Saltire Awards, please visit the website or feel free to get in touch with me at alan.clark@acvo.org.uk.  You can speak to someone at your school, university, college, youth club etc who may be able to provide some support as well in terms of the types of volunteering opportunities that are available.  You can also visit www.volunteeraberdeen.org.uk to search for local volunteering opportunities.  So what are you waiting for……get involved!!


500 Young People Donate Their Time in Aberdeen


L-R: Ali Simpson with Kyle Gasking

Aberdeen student, Kyle Gasking (23) of Chattan Place, has become the 500th young person in Aberdeen City to register for a Saltire Award since the scheme was launched last April.

The Saltire Awards recognise the contribution which 12-25 year olds make to their communities on a voluntary basis. Young people receive certificates of achievement for completing 10, 25, 50, 100 or 200 hours of volunteering. In Aberdeen, the scheme is facilitated by the Volunteer Centre within ACVO (Aberdeen Council of Voluntary Organisations).

Kyle, who volunteers by helping people to use a climbing wall, has already completed over 100 hours.

Kyle said, “I’m very proud to be receiving my 100 hour certificate. I get a lot of enjoyment from my roles at RGU:Sport and Shelterstone Climbing Club; it’s great to see schemes like the Saltire Awards encouraging more people to experience volunteering for themselves.”

Alasdair Simpson, Youth Volunteering Development Worker at ACVO, said, “We are delighted that in less than a year five hundred young people in Aberdeen have come forward to volunteer. It really is a testament to the energy and the generosity which is present within our city.”

 


Local Youth Recognised for Volunteer Work

Monty with Mike Melvin, Volunteer Co-ordinator

25 year oldMontser Kais Mohamad from Tillydrone has become the first volunteer in Aberdeen City to receive the Scottish Government’s new Saltire Award.

 

The Saltire Awards, which are delivered locally by ACVO (Aberdeen Council of Voluntary Organisations), encourage young people (aged 12-25 years)  to get more involved in volunteering.

Monty received his award in recognition of having spent over 250 hours volunteering with MeAL (Multi-Ethnic Aberdeen Ltd).Monty said, “My involvement with MeAL has enhanced my confident. It is always an honour to meet new people and my manager, Alayne Jones, has encouraged me to get involved in more projects and to play a part in meetings and activities. “This would not have happened without the support of my parents, Kais Al-Juboury and Sanaa Ali. Thank you.”

Alayne Jones, Business Development Manager at MeAL, said, “Despite working shifts, Monty made a commitment to come along to MeAL every Tuesday and Wednesday and has proven to be responsible, reliable and funny. What more could I have asked for in a volunteer? He has sorted out the IT systems and set up spreadsheets to records other volunteers’ hours and expenses and this is just the tip of the iceberg. “Monty is warm, friendly and approachable and I will feel sorry when he gets the job of his dreams and has to move on.”Although he was the first, Monty is not the only young Aberdonian to have achieved a Saltire Award since the scheme was launched in April. To date, over 200 local youths have received award certificates for completing 10, 25, 50, 100, 200 or 500 hours of volunteering.

Monty was awarded his certificate by Councillor Barney Crockett, leader of Aberdeen City Council during the launch of Community Planning Aberdeen’s new volunteering strategy “Making a Difference: Volunteering in Aberdeen” on Saturday (28th July 2012). The launch took place during the annual Insight Aberdeen Third Sector and Volunteering Fayre at The Music Hall.


ACVO-Volunteer Centre Join the North East Scotland Equalities Network

As part of our commitment to equality of opportunity for all ACVO-Volunteer Centre have joined the North East Scotland Equalities Network (NESEN).

NESEN is a new user-led initiative facilitated by the local Regional Equality Council GREC. Through keeping members connected and informed of events, news and requests for assistance it builds equality and celebrates diversity.

NESEN is also part of the local Third Sector Action and Liaison Groups ensuring a strong, positive voice for equality matters in Community Planning.

For more information about NESEN and latest news and information relevant to equality matters please visit www.nesen.org.uk or contact Amanda Walker on 01224 595505.


Nomination for Shmufties ‘Partner Organisation Award’ Category

This years SHMUfm, community radio awards ceremony, ‘The Shmufties’ is fast approaching, with Aberdeen's event of the year being held on the evening of Friday 28th October

Volunteer Aberdeen who present a weekly programme on volunteering, entitled ‘So Why Don’t You …Just Volunteer’ have again, this year, been nominated in the Partner Organisation Award category.

The programme is presented by Rod McDermid Mike Melvin and volunteer Mel Cadger from the Volunteer Centre, highlight volunteering issues, features, news, views and guests from the Third/Voluntary sector

As part of the voting system SHMUfm will be uploading audio clips from the Partner's shows to their website to help listeners to vote for their favourite.

You can check out the SHMUfm Radio webpage just follow the links ….and remember, don’t touch that dial …!!


Local Teenager Receives Award for Volunteering

Seventeen year old Northfield Academy pupil, Liam Jolly received an award for his voluntary work at a city centre ceremony on Tuesday. Liam, who volunteers as a Junior Sooyang Do Instructor with local community project Give Kids a Chance, was awarded the Exxon Mobil Award for Service to the Community at his school’s annual awards ceremony at The Music Hall on Tuesday 14th June.

Liam was nominated for the award by Depute Head Teacher, Mike Will, who is also Chairman of YMCA Scotland. Mike had been unaware of Liam’s voluntary work until bumping into him at a recent European Year of Volunteering reception at the Town House.

Mike explains, “If it wasn’t for attending the reception as a YMCA volunteer, I would not have been aware of the tremendous commitment that Liam has demonstrated in giving of his free time to help make a huge difference in the lives of others. I’m pleased that Liam’s inspirational volunteering work will be recognised by other students, parents and staff and hope that this will help others to recognise the importance of volunteering.”

Heather Wilson, Project Manager with Give Kids a Chance, said, “We are very proud of the progress Liam has made at the Sooyang Do and the additional responsibility he has accepted by making the decision to volunteer.  Liam is proof that young people have so much to offer society and are more than willing to volunteer their own time when given the right opportunity.”

In addition to the Exxon Mobil Award, Liam was also presented with an MV Award Certificate. The MV Awards, which are administrated in Aberdeen by ACVO-Volunteer Centre, recognise the contribution made by volunteers aged 16-25 years old.

Mike Melvin, Volunteer Coordinator with ACVO-Volunteer Centre, said, “This is excellent news and highlights the fantastic contribution and real positive difference volunteers are making in our communities. Congratulations to Northfield Academy, Give Kids a Chance and most of all to Liam.”

*For latest updates about how to get involved in volunteering in Aberdeen please visit: www.volunteeraberdeen.org.uk

*Come along to Insight Aberdeen-Third Sector & Volunteering Fayre at the Music Hall, Saturday 2nd July 2011, 10am-3pm.

*For further information regarding Give Kids a Chance please visit: www.nhsgrampian.org/gkac

 


Volunteers Celebrate European Year of Volunteering on Europe Day

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Neil Mitchison with the Lord Provost Peter Stephen

ACVO-Volunteer Centre were delighted that the European Commission Scotland Office on their visit to Aberdeen on the 9th May 2011 and Aberdeen City Council hosted a Civic Reception as part of Europe Day and the European Year of Volunteering.

The Europe Day reception took place in the Town and County Hall, Aberdeen Town House and was a great thank you to Aberdeen’s volunteers and volunteering organisations.

The Head of the European Commission Office in Scotland, Neil Mitchison, Lord Provost Peter Stephen (pictured above) and Sandy Mathers, Unit Leader, ACVO Voluntary Action & Active Citizenship Business Unit welcomed over 150 volunteers, volunteer organisations, representatives from Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council and Europe Direct and highlighted the fantastic contribution volunteers make across Europe and how Aberdeen’s estimated 44,000 volunteers help make the City a better place. Rod McDermid, ACVO Voluntary Action & Active Citizenship Business Unit showcased the range of volunteers and volunteer involving organisations present welcoming the involvement of:

Crossroads Care-Cornerstone-the Cyrenians-Aberdeen Samaritans-Befriend a Child-GREC-Grampian Regional Equality Council-Silver City Surfers-CHAS-Children Hospice Association Scotland-VSA (Contact Centre)- REACH Scotland-Kittybrewster Family Learning PEER Project- MEAL (Multi Ethnic Aberdeen Ltd.)- SHMU-Station House Media Unit-Terrence Higgins Trust- Aberdeen Foyer (Global Xchange)- Home-Start Aberdeen-Aberdeen University Students’ Association-Aberdeen Action on Disability-Give Kids a Chance-Aberdeen Football Club Ladies Team-Thai Buddharrum Temple & Cultural Centre-CFINE-Community Food Initiative North East-Alzheimer Scotland-Mental Health Aberdeen-Learning Disability Group of Aberdeen-CLAN-Cancer Link Aberdeen & North-Lighthouse Project-Alcohol Support-Camphill-YMCA

It was a very enjoyable evening and a great recognition and celebration of the contribution volunteers make.

In addition Neil Mitchison, the Head of the European Commission Office in Scotland recorded a special interview for the ‘So Why Don’t You….’ Volunteering show that ACVO-Volunteer Centre present on SHMU-FM to help spread the word about the European Year of Volunteering and inspire people to get involved. The interview is available to listen to here. For latest updates about the European Year of Volunteering please go to www.europa.eu/volunteering and www.volunteeraberdeen.org.uk. Listen to the ‘So Why Don’t You…’ Volunteer Show on SHMU-FM-99.8fm-every Wednesday, 2-3.00pm (repeated Mondays 9-10am) for latest European Year of Volunteering 2011 updates, volunteering and third sector news.


Volunteering Radio Programme Gets Top Marks

Aberdeen College student Ghada Sherif (pictured right with ACVO’s Sandy Mathers and Mike Melvin) has put her knowledge and experience of volunteering to great use by producing a volunteering programme as part of her HNC Creative Industries course at Aberdeen College.

The show focuses on the European Year of Volunteering and the contribution volunteers make and features Sandy Mathers, Unit Leader of ACVO’s Voluntary Action and Active Citizenship Business Unit. The show was recently broadcast to Aberdeen College students, but is so good that ACVO have put it onto Aberdeen’s volunteering portal so  more people can listen in and be inspired to volunteer!

To listen to the show, please click here (Audio file, mp3 format, 3Mb). To read more good news stories from volunteers during the European Year of Volunteering please click here.


 

 

 

   
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