Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration of the fantastic contribution volunteers make each day throughout our communities. This year, we visited organisations throughout the Falkirk area who involve volunteers and spoke with them about the impact volunteers have their services.
Home-Start Falkirk West is based in Denny and supports families with young children, helping them deal with challenges they face. Their volunteers support parents through a variety of issues, in many different ways.
“We’ve always had volunteers here,” says Sandra Rankin, Co-ordinator. “It’s just how we work. They’re the ones who support the families.”
“It’s good for the parents to have someone else supporting them, reassuring them, who’s maybe been through something similar to what they’re dealing with. It helps them see that it’s not permanent, that they can get through this.”
Many of Home-Start’s volunteers are people looking to get into work, whether they haven’t worked before or have been away from work for a while. Sandra highlights how volunteering with Home-Start helps them towards their next step, whatever that may be. “It could be training, or employment, or their own personal development. It also helps boost their skills and experience.”
Volunteers come from all different kinds of backgrounds, and bring so much to Home-Start, such as their own experiences, knowledge and skills, which they’re happy to share with the Home-Start staff team and the families they support.
“Some of them can be a bit shy to start with, or they don’t think what know is relevant,” Sandra explains. But their input is priceless. “They have a real understanding of how difficult life can be, and that sometimes all people need is someone else who will just sit with them, someone they can just chat to over a cup of tea.”
At Home-Start, they are extremely grateful for everything their volunteers bring, but especially their time. “They support families for as long as they need them,” Sandra says, obviously very proud of Home-Start’s volunteers. “In doing that, they give families the space to open up, to breathe.”
For Sandra, the impact volunteers have on Home-Start and what they do is clear: “We couldn’t survive without them,” she says plainly. “We wouldn’t be here. They’re in everything we do, in all parts of the organisation – the general day-to-day, the fundraising, everything.”
Would she encourage people to get involved with volunteering, for Home-Start and in general?
Sandra is enthusiastic about the benefits volunteering can bring, including as a “brilliant” way to gain new skills and experiences, make new friends, get into work or even just get out of the house and socialise. “It can lead to so many different things.”
She recognises it is also a way to give back. However, she believes that people who volunteer, including those who volunteer with Home-Start, get even more out of it than the people they support. “There’s a definite impact, and you can see it in people, in their lives.”
“Everyone volunteers,” Sandra says, many without realising. “They do it without thinking – minding your friend’s kids, picking up some shopping for your neighbour – and they do it without wanting thanks. But it helps make the world a better place.”
Why not find out how you can get involved with CVS Falkirk, or volunteering in Falkirk, by contacting our Volunteering Team by phone: 01324 692000, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org