This week is Volunteers’ Week 2020, with Cornerstone House Centre especially keen this year to highlight the tremendous effort of hundreds of Cumbernauld volunteers who have responded selflessly by giving their time to helping others during the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency.
Volunteers’ Week takes place from 1-7 June every year, with the aim at recognising, rewarding and celebrating the good work done by millions of individuals, teams and organisations across the UK that give time to excelling in a volunteering capacity.
Whilst the coronavirus pandemic might have stopped many of the Volunteers’ Week events and festivities scheduled to take place this year, Cornerstone House Centre recognises the huge value and importance of volunteers to the Cumbernauld area, particularly in these challenging times.
Indeed, it is known that since March hundreds of Cumbernauld citizens have responded to Scottish Government’s call for coronavirus volunteers to sign-up through the Ready Scotland website to help others in need.
Cornerstone House Centre’s own Cumbernauld CHaT (Community Help and Talk) Service has also received contact from many local people offering to help with grocery deliveries, dog walking, prescription collection, transportation, food bank support, remote befriending and various other key areas. Mary McNeil, Development Manager at Cornerstone House Centre, said:
“Volunteers’ Week provides a fantastic opportunity to spotlight the outstanding volunteers who give so much time to working with local organisations and in their communities.
“It is our understanding that over 1,000 people have stepped forward to volunteer in the Greater Cumbernauld area during the coronavirus pandemic, including those registering to offer support through NHS Scotland, British Red Cross and Volunteer Scotland.
“In its role as a Community Anchor Organisation, Cornerstone House Centre has been fortunate to witness first-hand the huge contribution of local volunteers in recent months, from those helping on the front line and delivering meals to people doing good deeds for their neighbours and undertaking telephone befriending.
“During this Volunteers’ Week, Cornerstone House Centre would like to extend its sincere thanks to everyone in Cumbernauld who volunteers and plays an invaluable role in keeping our community together.
“In particular, to all those who have come forward to help Cumbernauld communities during the coronavirus pandemic, we want to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’. Your help has made a massive difference and is protecting vulnerable people during these difficult times.”
Those volunteers include lone parent Sarah McCall from Abronhill, who is currently shielding to protect her nine-year-old son, William.
Whilst staying at home, Sarah, 37, has been volunteering by making regular wellbeing calls to others who are self-isolating through the Cumbernauld CHaT Service. She remarked:
“My telephone volunteering has been so positive as I have been able to reach out to people I would never have met before at a time when I felt particularly isolated and unable to take positive action due to my own shielding situation.”
Stephen Williamson, 57, is another community champion who has been making a difference through organising a team of volunteers in Condorrat to help with shopping deliveries and leaflet drops.
“I think we kind of get tied up with the negative stuff that goes on in the world,” Stephen commented.
“We forget that there are some wonderful folk in Cumbernauld and when the chips are down people are willing to roll up their sleeves.
“We’ve had a brilliant response in our efforts and some of the offers of support and the lengths people have gone to have been nothing short of remarkable.”
VOLUNTEERS’ WEEK 2020: MORE ABOUT VOLUNTEERING
Volunteering can be both rewarding and interesting, giving people a real sense purpose and achievement. It is believed that over 20 million people gave time to volunteer in the UK in 2019.
One great thing about volunteering is that it can be what you want it to be. You don’t have to give up large chunks of your spare time – it may be that you have one or two hours per week that you want to offer. Or it may be that you feel ready to give more than that. Volunteering is a commitment, but ultimately it can fit around your needs.
People volunteer for all kinds of reasons, both to help themselves and other people. In fact, most people who do volunteer achieve both of these things at the same time with great success.
Examples of why people volunteer include general reasons like to use their spare time well, to help other people, to meet new people, to get themselves involved in helping their community or simply just to gain another interest.
Some have more specific goals like to gain a new skill or to improve their physical or mental health, whereas others volunteer because it is part of their values or beliefs.
Interestingly, volunteering is shown to help with giving structure, direction and meaning to life, particularly for people experiencing depression, anxiety or low mood. It can notably help widen people’s social networks, improve their employability and help them gain access to education and training.
Whatever the reason for starting, most who do volunteer soon find an added motivation to keep volunteering – the great enjoyment they gain from being involved and giving their time.
Volunteering in the Cumbernauld Area
Although not everyone is able to volunteer at this unprecedented time, volunteering is something you could perhaps consider once life returns to a greater state of normality.
When lockdown ends, what exactly will be on offer for people who want to volunteer in the Cumbernauld area? Well, for one there will be several rewarding volunteering opportunities available through Cornerstone House Centre in the areas of administration, marketing, events management, Community Space coordination, employability, family development and social media.
Under normal circumstances, there are also many outdoor and hands-on volunteering opportunities available in Cumbernauld too. Organisations and initiatives such as Cumbernauld Living Landscape, The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), Scottish Wildlife Trust, Watch Us Grow, Active Schools North Lanarkshire and Seven Lochs Wetland Park work locally and regularly recruit volunteers for outdoor activities and events.
Several other voluntary sector organisations that recruit, train, involve and support volunteers operate in and around the Cumbernauld area. These include, amongst others, Bethlehem House of Bread Food Bank, CACE Older People Active Lives, Cumbernauld and Kilsyth Citizens Advice Bureau, Cumbernauld Community Forum, Cumbernauld Poverty Action, Cumbernauld YMCA-YWCA, Drop In Cafe and Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland.
Individuals interesting in volunteering in the Cumbernauld area can do a search for current opportunities available locally by visiting the Volunteer Scotland website at www.volunteerscotland.net.
More on how the UK is marking Volunteers’ Week 2020 during lockdown can be read by visiting the Volunteers’ Week website at www.volunteersweek.org.
Meanwhile, if you would be interested in being part of Cornerstone House Centre’s response to the coronavirus crisis in the Cumbernauld area, please telephone 07940 569527 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.