At the heart of this exciting project is a bid to increase volunteering levels across Stirling to 50 per cent through a year-long festival of volunteering in the area in 2020.
This will help support the regeneration and development of communities and provide opportunities for residents to positively participate in a wide range of projects, events and activities.
To deliver this vision of Stirling's Alive with Volunteering, the local authority is working collaboratively with Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise (SVE), Volunteer Scotland and other public and third sector organisations.
In last week’s meeting of the Council’s Community Planning and Regeneration Committee, Councillors approved to allocate £15,000 to support volunteer co-ordination across the local authority and make sure that appropriate policies are in place to encourage growth in volunteering and volunteering opportunities.
They also agreed to grant £35,000 to SVE to enable them to support the partnership aims through a variety of activities that could include:
- Supporting a wide range of opportunities and events for citizens to talk about volunteering, how to get involved and share experiences of good practice
- Produce specific learning material and information to support communities to organise their own volunteering festivals
- Provide targeted support to five communities where volunteering numbers are low
- Establish a Stirling-wide volunteer information and opportunity digital portal.
A beacon for volunteering
Convener of the Committee, Cllr Chris Kane said: “While our volunteering participation figures are already extremely positive, we are determined to achieve our ambitious 50% target and make Stirling a beacon for volunteering.
“We have taken an important step forward in that mission by agreeing how to distribute this funding, recognising that SVE are the experts in this field and are best equipped to break down barriers and meet our objectives.”
In November 2018, figures released from the Scottish Household Survey indicated that volunteering in the Stirling area had risen by 7% from the previous year, with 39% of residents now reporting volunteering in their communities. This is more than 10% above the National average and equates to approximately 30,500 people.
As part of the 2020 commitment, there will be a focus on increasing volunteer numbers within communities experiencing disadvantage, with recent figures* from Volunteer Scotland showing that volunteering levels in these areas are lower than the Stirling and national average.
Unlock the full potential of volunteering
Vice Convener, Cllr Maureen Bennison said: “The three main organisations in this project have built a very positive partnership, and we will continue working together to decide the detailed spend of the programme and ensure we deliver something special in 2020.
“We already know that our inspiring volunteers enrich the lives of communities across Stirling, improving health and well-being along with a range of other benefits.
“Our challenge is now to unlock the full potential of volunteering in every area of Stirling, and we are moving forward with purpose to succeed in that goal.”
The three main partners will commit staff time on the initiative, while the two external organisations - SVE and Volunteer Scotland – have identified further resources to invest in the work on top of the local authority’s £50,000 investment, which was agreed by Councillors earlier this year in the 2019/20 budget.
Key events that have already been agreed for 2020 include a national event co-ordinated by Volunteer Scotland, while all partners are working towards a World Volunteering Expo in Stirling in 2021.
fantastic news for our city and our communities
Natalie Masterson, Chief Officer, Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise, said: “This funding is fantastic news for our city and our communities. We’ve forged strong partnerships with key organisations which we intend to build upon to ensure we can offer local people access to quality opportunities, information and events centred around volunteering in order to aim for our 50% participation rate.
“It will allow us to target the areas that may need extra support, and to use digital in new and innovative ways to promote local opportunities. We have big plans for volunteering over the next couple of years in Stirling and this funding will allow us to push forward with our aims.”
George Thomson, Chief Executive of Volunteer Scotland said: “Our common goal is for Stirling to be Alive with Volunteering and this investment by Stirling Council shows a real commitment to making that happen. We’ll be working together to ensure Stirling is a place where there are lots of opportunities for people to contribute to their communities and the benefits of volunteering are experienced by all.”
In early December, Stirling was edged out by Italian city Padua in the contest to be crowned European Volunteering Capital (EVC) 2020.
More than 140 organisations had pledged their support for the city’s bid, as did the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon alongside the Scottish Government and a number of celebrities.
Despite the disappointment at the final outcome, the Council along with bid partners, Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise (SVE) and Volunteer Scotland, reiterated their commitment to ensuring 2020 is a year-long festival of volunteering.