It’s good to blether
30 September, 2017
With just over 20 staff, ScotsCare supports Scots in London in a range of ways – from family support and education and training grants to housing for over-55s. But without its 50 volunteers, there are some services the charity wouldn’t be able to offer.
‘Blether Buddies’ is one of the volunteer services where befrienders call or meet ScotsCare clients on a weekly basis, helping to reduce their sense of isolation and improve wellbeing.
A volunteer for the past two years, retired BT technician Dan has been involved in befriending and answering helpline calls. Having arrived in London in 1972, Dan says, “When I came down here from Glasgow I took a long time to settle down before I could start to make progress. So I can understand other people having problems.”
“I am quite amazed at the professionalism of the case workers here and the things they do.” he says. “I’m not here to make judgements about people. I am here to help people -that is what I see my job as.”
Another reception volunteer, Anne, a retired arts college administrator from Kilmacolm, says, “I like helping people, I like giving out the correct information, which is so important, and being able to point them in the right direction, because that is what I used to do at my work. If you find information, you can often solve a problem. She also likes the unpredictability. “I like the challenge. It’s nice to get out of your comfort zone.”
However, you don’t need to be Scottish to volunteer for ScotsCare. “Definitely not!” insists Volunteer Coordinator Louise Davies, a Yorkshire native from Huddersfield. “It helps if you have some interest in Scotland or the Scottish community, but it’s about your skills, your personal commitment to the charity and what you want to get out of it.”
Volunteers’ motivations are just as diverse as the activities they undertake. “For some it’s helping those less fortunate than they are”, says Louise. “But it’s also about getting skills, meeting people, staying active, or finding work again.
There are quite a few roles to choose from. Volunteers also help with a variety of activities, including social events and outings for clients, mail-outs and administrative tasks, in addition to outreach work to raise the profile of the charity.
“Volunteering looks good on your CV, and we can provide references for future employment. A couple of volunteers who joined us last year both wanted to get back into work but they lacked the confidence, and didn’t have up-to-date references. They did stints on reception and then were successful when they applied for jobs.”
The charity also organises regular social events for its volunteers to help show its appreciation for their involvement. Louise says, “Another nice thing about volunteering is that it can bring very different people together who wouldn’t usually meet up. Working with such a diverse team of people, no two days are the same, ever.”