Scottish Government
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£1.1 million support for volunteers

Army of helpers fighting inequality and poverty.

Over £1.1 million will be invested to train and recruit 3,000 volunteers from disadvantaged backgrounds Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil has announced.

Speaking ahead of the annual third sector conference The Gathering, Mr Neil outlined the Volunteering Support Fund will support new and existing volunteers at 110 projects in Scotland.

This investment is just one part of the third sector funding in the 2015-16 budget which will give communities more control over decision making, addressing inequality and discrimination and mitigating some of the worst effects of welfare reform.

Mr Neil said:

“In these challenging times for the third sector over one million volunteers are playing an important role helping to address inequalities and poverty across Scotland.

“This funding boost will give some of the vulnerable people in our communities the opportunity to volunteer.

“Volunteering is a way to make new friends, learn new skills, boost self-confidence and get a sense of community spirit.”

The Gathering is the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations’ annual two-day event on February 25 and 26 and brings together more than 5,000 representatives from the sector across Scotland to the SECC in Glasgow.

At the conference, Mr Neil is expected to outline the third sector’s crucial role contributing to the Scottish Government’s Social Justice agenda. He said:

“There are so many third sector projects carrying out tremendous work in their communities. That is why the Scottish Government is investing in the third sector to build capacity and make sure they get the support they deserve.

“On top of this, our new Third Sector Forum will bring together representatives to brainstorm ideas about the sector’s future, funding challenges and opportunities to engage with communities.

“We are determined to work with the third sector to remove the barriers which prevent people from reaching their full potential. The third sector is crucial to achieving social justice and its organisations are closing the gap in employment and health inequalities and addressing the significant problem of poverty in Scotland.

“I look forward to hearing directly from organisations how we can work together to create a fairer and socially just Scotland.”

The Volunteering Support Fund is being delivered on behalf of the Scottish Government by the Voluntary Action Fund.

Keith Wimbles, Chief Executive of the Voluntary Action Fund said:

“The Voluntary Action Fund (VAF) is delighted to manage the Scottish Government Volunteering Support Fund again in 2015-16.

“As a grant maker VAF has over 30 years’ experience supporting quality volunteering opportunities in the third sector. We believe that it is essential that the value of volunteering is recognised and that investment is provided to support volunteer management.

“Volunteering is an important catalyst to developing social capital and unlocking resources in our communities. Through this new funding we will continue to demonstrate the often underrated impact that volunteering has on volunteers, organisations and wider society.”

John Downie, Director of Public Affairs, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations said:

"This is welcome news for the charities and communities right across Scotland who'll benefit from the hugely valuable support of volunteers and for the people who'll reap rewards from becoming more actively involved in their local area and doing their bit to make Scotland a better place for everyone to live.

"It's great timing as thousands of people working and volunteering for charities come together at The Gathering to share their experiences and ideas about how to work together to build stronger communities in Scotland and support more people to help themselves and others."

Case studies

Organisations to have previously benefitted from the Volunteering Support Fund include the Brock Garden Centre in West Lothian which offers adults with mental health problems the opportunity to take part in enterprising gardening activities, and Hope 2 Oban which has encouraged young people to restore a traditional walled garden in the area.

Brock Garden Centre

Launched in 2013, Brock Garden Centre provides supported volunteering opportunities to adults with poor mental health, helping them gain confidence and new skills through enterprising gardening activities. It received a volunteering support grant in April 2014.

For over a year Tom, aged 33, has been volunteering at Brock for a day a week, this work includes building ‘mud kitchens’ for local pre-schools. The ‘mud kitchens’ are recycled sinks which are adapted to encourage outdoor play.

Volunteering has given Tom, who suffers from schizophrenia, purpose, motivation and a sense of structure to his week, allowing him to connect with his local community.

Hope 2 Oban

Hope 2 Oban received a grant in 2014 to restore a traditional walled garden with the help of volunteers.

Tracey, one of the volunteers at Hope 2 Oban, is a single parent living in a remote village in Argyll with her daughter who has learning difficulties and other health problems. Since her daughter left school two years ago, Tracey has been her full-time carer. Tracey now volunteers two days a week in the garden, sometimes alongside her daughter.

The project has given Tracey the chance to develop her skills and confidence, and she has now taken on a role planning the development of the garden and has been leading a group of carers on a gardening and cooking project.

Notes To Editors

More information of the Volunteering Support Fund is available at:

Voluntary Action Fund, on behalf of the Scottish Government, delivers the Volunteering Support Fund. The Fund will deliver £1.1 million support to third sector organisations in 2015/16. The fund is open to support third sector organisations in Scotland to create new volunteering projects; increase the diversity of their volunteers (especially those experiencing disadvantage); and improve opportunities, skills and personal development through volunteering.

For more information about The Gathering go to:

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Economy John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights Alex Neil and Local Government and Community Empowerment Minister Marco Biagi will all be attending the Gathering over the course of February 25 and 26.


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