Volunteer Week takes place 1 - 7 June 2023.

There is no better feeling than knowing that you are helping your community and making a difference; empowering people and supporting them.

To mark its start, East Lothian Council’s Cabinet member for Community Wellbeing Colin McGinn reflects on his own volunteer experiences as he pays tribute to East Lothian’s volunteers. Councillor McGinn says:

I’ve always been involved in my community. When my sons were young I was involved in the parent council at St Martin’s Primary School and was heavily involved in youth football, restarting Tranent Colts with others. I’ve served on a Community Council, sat on the panel of the Children’s Hearing System Scotland, fundraised for Teenage Cancer Trust and now act as Vice Chair with Walk with Scott having been one of the original Scotters. I’ve experienced first-hand the benefits that come from being involved in volunteering and witnessed the incredible feats that volunteers achieve on behalf of others.

“As East Lothian Council’s Cabinet Member for Wellbeing I am acutely aware of what our volunteers offer and the difference they make across East Lothian. We could not achieve all that we do without their talent and dedication and our communities are very fortunate to have them.

“From the In Bloom groups and conservation volunteers who work to keep our open spaces beautiful, parent councils and organisations who provide opportunities for our children and young people, and charities helping to keep residents fed, clothed and warm, we can’t underestimate the positive impact their actions have. Many people don’t realise that our Community Councils and Area Partnership members are all volunteers, carrying out important statutory functions and acting as a bridge between their community and council.

“Everyone has their own skills to bring and there is absolutely a role to suit them. Older volunteers bring life experience and young people offer their youthful enthusiasm. Often becoming involved is borne from adversity – someone whose life has been touched by cancer raising funds, or who has spent time in hospital becoming involved in the Royal Voluntary Service. Turning a negative into a positive and giving back.

“A good organiser and organisation will help you find your place. It’s taking that first step and knowing that you will be supported whether it is for a few hours a week or longer. The impacts on your mental health and wellbeing from being involved are well documented. There is no better feeling than knowing that you are helping your community and making a difference; empowering people and supporting them.

“Volunteers will often say they don’t do it for praise, it’s just what they do. Regardless, Volunteer Week is one point in the year when we can all take time to recognise their incredible work. On behalf of East Lothian I’d like to offer them my sincere thanks for all their efforts. I hope it will also be a catalyst for more people to get involved in their community. We all benefit when they do.”

Inspired to get involved? Visit Volunteer East Lothian to find opportunities near you: www.volunteereastlothian.org.uk

Published: Thursday, 1st June 2023