The undying spirit to volunteer in Glasgow
Welcome to the latest addition to our ‘The Kind Link’ series, aiming to bring a piece of positive news in such uncertain times by talking to organisations whose work creates a positive impact. Non-profits are a key part of our societies as they are the link between those who want to help and those who need to be helped. It is important to appreciate their work and support their causes to achieve a better world for all of us.
Volunteer Glasgow is a charity which in 2020 celebrated its 50th birthday. The inspiration for the organization is to facilitate people and organizations to get more involved in public life and their city through volunteering. Throughout the entire history of the charity, they have strived to give a platform to organizations to promote volunteering opportunities and to provide accessibility to individuals who want to get involved in helping. They believe that volunteering brings great benefits not only to the individual but to the entirety of the local communities.
What is the charity’s ultimate goal?
The organization’s goal is to get everyone in Glasgow involved in volunteering. They work to make volunteering as accessible as possible. Prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, they not only had a welcome team in their office but also people who speak foreign languages so that individuals who experience language barriers can also participate. Their office was the place where people can drop in, ask questions and get involved, all supported by the welcome team, which consists entirely of volunteers. Volunteer Glasgow believes that this selfless act not only leads to better mental wellbeing but also to benefit the city.
On top of having volunteers in the office, the charity has befriending and mentoring teams. The people who participate in this project often form long term friendships with the beneficiaries.
What have the effects of the crisis been for Volunteer Glasgow?
However, due to the unprecedented situation, volunteering has been hit hard. It is near impossible, under current conditions, to continue the previous campaigns and projects. Some beneficiaries can be severely affected. Elderly people can be away from family and be completely isolated for months, young people might be stuck home in an unhealthy environment. Because of this, Volunteer Glasgow started a new project to support people in lockdown. Essential product deliveries and phone calls to chat with people and provide them with support is something that they’ve focused on from early on.
They have also, in collaboration with other organizations, set up a response line for volunteers and organizations. The function of this line is to support people who are worried about how their volunteering activities will change and organizations, who need support in continuing their activities. This became a widespread problem, as many were uncertain whether there are or will be any opportunities to volunteer. Despite the dire challenges for organizations dealing with volunteering, they have managed to collaborate, communicate and adapt to the new situation. They have started learning how to work from a distance and online. They have managed to adopt new skill sets into their work, such as social media management and managing online events. Training for volunteers is being done online and the charity is hoping they will be able to resume normal activities as soon as it is safe to do so. It is likely that it will be some time until it is, but Emma is positive about the future, despite all the hardships.
One of the biggest hardships for Volunteer Glasgow has been fundraising. As a charity that before the lockdown was dependent on its office, it is difficult to transition online in some regards. Financial woes have been widespread for organizations but they have slowly been adapting to the new way of operating. They have been focusing on identifying what fundraising events will be in the future.
A smooth transition to digital
Luckily for the charity, they had the experience of managing events and operations online prior to the lockdown. This meant that the transition was smooth, with the exception of people who have difficulties with technology or are simply not used to not having one to one conversations. They share that thanks to easy to use and intuitive platform such as KindLink they have been able to move forward in these trying times.
Moreover, many people who were previously not active have since started making donations to the charity and getting in touch. It is also reassuring that they have not lost any volunteers, despite all the redundancies and situations people have been put in. They’ve seen more communication than ever, and support has not been lacking between the different organizations.
Volunteer Glasgow is a fantastic example of a charity, which was severely threatened by the lockdown, that found its way out and continued supporting people and charities.