Katie Docherty: Volunteering can lead to more than the feel-good factor

Volunteering is vital to our society. It was fantastic to see this recognised at the beginning of the month with Volunteers' Week, where Scotland came together to celebrate the work of those who give up their time to make a difference.

Cubs and Scouts benefit from those willing to give up their time. Picture: Michael Gillen.
Cubs and Scouts benefit from those willing to give up their time. Picture: Michael Gillen.

The great work of charities, like Scouts Scotland, simply would not be possible without the support of thousands of volunteers across the country.

Their work in Scotland is valued at £2.6 billion every year. Supporting causes like Scouting, which gives young people the best possible start in life, is crucial to Scotland’s future success.

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Giving up a little bit of your time can make a massive difference. I volunteer at my son’s Cub pack, where I help out every few weeks. My most recent outing was to help with a walk in the woods. All I needed were my feet, a water bottle and a snack.

To many people, this may not seem like much, but I see first-hand that through a fun and exciting ­programme of activities, we make a massive difference and help girls and boys develop the practical, employability, and character skills they need to succeed in life.

Scouting is not only great for young people, but also has tangible benefits for volunteers too. Our volunteers are amazing. Without them Scouting would not exist. So it is incredibly important that our volunteers are recognised and supported in their roles. We have an award winning training programme that can help any adult to develop the skills they need: if you’re running a group for the first time, we teach you management skills. If you decide to become a leader, we teach you how to communicate with young people.

I am about to join the executive committee at my son’s group to help deliver the programme the young people ask for. For this role I had to do an online training module, which only took an hour from start to finish. The time commitment isn’t huge either, about four meetings every year. Knowing that I can make a real difference makes me feel incredibly proud.

Our training is comprehensive, and the skills volunteers learn can be taken back into the workplace, something really important for those looking to progress their careers to management level and beyond.

The challenge just now for us is that we need more volunteers than ever before. We have a long list of young people waiting to join and benefit from what we offer, but we need more volunteers.

I’m a busy mum, I understand the pressures there are on people today. But I also see directly the benefit that Scouting has on my son, and on many thousands of young people across Scotland, so I would really encourage people to consider if they can help us to improve lives.

For more information about how you can volunteer with Scouts ­Scotland, check out our website – www.scouts.scotKatie Docherty is chief executive of Scouts Scotland.