Volunteering: everyone wins

It’s Volunteers Week, the annual celebration of the millions of volunteers across the UK and all that they do.

Anyone who knows Leuchie House knows our volunteers are absolutely essential to the delivery of our respite service.  Last year alone, our volunteers worked a total of 4,000 hours, saving Leuchie a staggering £133,000 in staff costs.

Since we got funding to appoint a Volunteer Coordinator last January, it’s been wonderful to watch the team grow not just in size but in diversity too. In particular, we’ve seen many more young people joining us, looking for work experience and a way to stand out in the job market.

It’s really important to us that our volunteers benefit as much as we do from giving their time to Leuchie, and helping them develop transferable new skills is one of the things we can offer them.

Rachael, who has volunteered at Leuchie since January is a great example. Currently in the third year of a nursing degree, she volunteers for a few hours weekly, assisting at meal times or helping with our guest activity programme. We asked her recently for feedback on how it was going, and her response confirmed for me just how much of a win-win situation volunteering can be.

She told us: “Deciding to volunteer at Leuchie is by far one of the best decisions I have ever made. The understanding and skills I have developed will only be beneficial in my future role as a nurse.”

Then there’s another Rachel, who has autism and volunteered with us a couple of years ago, which helped her move into paid employment.  Last week she stood on the stage at the Glasgow Armadillo and delivered a talk as part of the TEDx programme to 2,200 people entitled “Let’s think ability and autism”. You can imagine how proud I was to listen to her, knowing we’d helped get her started on her journey.

So if you’ve ever thought about volunteering, why not make this Volunteers Week the time to make some enquiries. Whatever you’re looking to get out of it, the rewards can be enormous.

By Mairi O'Keefe, Chief Executive, Leuchie House. Published in the East Lothian Courier, 7 June 2018.