Our Chief Executive Mhairi Crawford reflects on why our volunteers are needed now more than ever.
This volunteers week, I want to start by saying a huge thank you to every single one of our volunteers. Some have been with us for a long time and some are very new but every one – whether it be supporting a youth group, live chat, our board members, young people or our talent pool - is essential to helping us support young people across Scotland. So to all of you, thank you – we couldn’t do it without you.
When I first wrote a blog about volunteers week in 2020, we were beginning to understand a little about Covid and to be hopeful for releasing of restrictions. Now, the world is two years into a pandemic, we have a more uncertain economic future, there is war in Ukraine and globally, we are seeing a regression of human rights, LGBT rights, racial justice and more. The impact that has had on all of us, no matter our age or background is significant. These are just some of the reasons that right across the voluntary sector we have seen a greater reduction in people volunteering, but they’re also the reasons we need our volunteers now, more than ever.
Volunteers are absolutely integral to our services – they support every single one of the 20+ youth groups we run each week (both in-person and digitally) and are there at the end of the live chat service every session. One young person in Ayrshire let us know that:
Supporting LGBTI young people is why our 100+ volunteers donate over 2900 hours every year to support the nearly 1700 hours of group work and over 300 live chat sessions we delivered last year. This support gives young people a hugely important safe and reliable space to be themselves against that backdrop of world uncertainty. Our volunteers are a large part of why 82% of our young people who responded to our annual YW survey said they feel empowered to make positive decisions about their health & wellbeing and 92% felt part of a community.
Volunteers are essential for LGBT Youth Scotland in so many additional ways; from the young people who represent us as MSYP’s or join our Youth Commissions - giving their time and experience to inform policy and practice to improve everything from LGBTI health care to inclusive education - to our incredible Board of Trustees who all commit time throughout the year to ensure our sound governance. Each of them directly help improve rights, policy and practice for LGBTI young people across Scotland.
Our young people have reflected:
“How far I have come and an individual and how much I have come out of my shell”
“I'm much more confident about my knowledge of how parliament works, I feel like I could accurately explain it now rather than just having a vague idea”
“I’m super proud of all of us, you all did amazingly and it was such a privilege to share that platform with you all”
The need for volunteers is only increasing but the benefits from being a volunteer can be huge – not only does it help charities like LGBT Youth Scotland but it brings positive physical and mental benefits to those volunteering, it’s one of the reasons why we support staff to take volunteering days to support other organisations every year.
To our volunteers who help us support over 1000 LGBTI young people each year, a huge thank you, and to those who haven’t yet experienced how much rewarding it can be - please consider applying for one of our volunteer roles. We’d love to hear from you!
Find out more about our volunteers and how you can be a part of the team here: https://lgbtyouth.org.uk/volunteer