As part of Volunteers’ Week, we took some time out to speak to one of our own volunteers.
Andrew “Andi” Holmes lives in St John’s town of Dalry, Dumfries & Galloway, and has volunteered at numerous Scottish Rural Action events, including the Scottish Rural Parliament. We asked Andi what projects he has been involved in, and he even has some inspiring words for anyone thinking about volunteering themselves. Andi tells us that in a normal week he will normally commit to approximately 20 hours of volunteering on average but let’s find out more.
What was your first volunteering role?
Theoretically, my first role was as a Cub Scout during ‘Bob-a-job’ week in the early 70’s, more recently resurrected as ‘Scout Community Week’. I’ve always helped family, friends and neighbours anyway, I find it hard to say no. The Citizens Advice Bureau was probably my first ‘formal’ volunteering.
What volunteering are you currently involved in?
I have been on Dalry Town Hall Management Committee for about ten years. Dalry Community Council for seven years, Glenkens Charity Shop about two years, Dalry Community Property Trust about a year and volunteered at Brechin at the second Scottish Rural Parliament in October 2016.
What interests or motivates you to volunteer?
I find it difficult to get normal paid work due to health issues, so volunteering gives me something worthwhile to do that keeps me motivated. I get to learn new things and meet people, visit places I’ve not been before and mostly have a good time.
When I was younger I was too busy working and keeping my life together to volunteer much. It’s harder to focus on the greater good when your own life is a bit of a mess.
What has been the best experience you have had whilst volunteering?
Probably going to Israel as a Kibbutz Volunteer in the late 80’s. We worked very hard in basic conditions, but the foreign culture experience, the different sights, sounds and food are now unforgettable. The work itself was mostly quite dull, but we managed to find some fun in most of it. I made new friends, some of whom are still with me all these years later.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about volunteering?
A whole world of possibilities exist through volunteering that you might otherwise never get to see, or in a unique way! It is not so easy sometimes to get involved if you don’t have much free time or lack resources. In terms of time, how many hours a week do you spend watching TV or online doing nothing important? Volunteering can be just a couple of hours once a week, it all adds up. You don’t have to take on more than you can give, after all it is volunteering. Some organisations pay travelling expenses or provide food whilst you are helping out, so depending on who you are volunteering for, you needn’t be out of pocket. Indeed you could end up being fed or housed for the day, so if things are tight for you, find out which volunteering organisations provide something ‘extra’ for your support.
Organisations like ‘Volunteer Scotland‘ list hundreds of opportunities offered by mainstream organisations, but don’t forget there are also lots of other bodies in need of help like your local Community Centre / Group who might not be listed. There’s no lack of opportunities, just a shortage of volunteers.
Volunteering is also a great way to add to your C.V. if you are after a job. It shows interest, enthusiasm and a commitment to work which employers value. Through volunteering you can meet new friends, do something positive for your community, improve your C.V. and feel better about yourself and life in general, what’s not to like?
Keep up to date with everything happening throughout Volunteers’ Week 2017 on Twitter using the hashtag #volunteersweekscot