Lucy McTernan: Gather interest in volunteers

THE economic crisis, a deepening mistrust of our politicians and a lack of faith in our leaders to take meaningful action on climate change has altered the political landscape in Scotland.

Politics is no longer about joining a party – it is increasingly centred on single issues, from wind turbines to Gurkhas to civil liberties.

Individuals are channelling their energy and values into community action, making a difference at a local level, often through charities and community groups.

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There's an estimated 45,000 voluntary organisations in Scotland. These are the bread and butter of our society – the kind of body created when a group of people sees a problem and comes together to fix it.

Here in Edinburgh, local people are making a difference to their communities too. Whether it's through being part of their community council, helping out elderly or vulnerable neighbours or working for a charity, sometimes even the smallest actions can make a big difference to people around us.

On 18 and 19 February, thousands of people from Edinburgh and beyond will come together to see how they can make a difference by getting involved in Scotland's vibrant voluntary sector – and you can join them!

The Gathering is the UK's biggest voluntary sector event, bringing together hundreds of charities and voluntary organisations from across the country with policy makers, politicians and the public. It is being held in the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on Morrison Street and there's a packed agenda. From workshops on how to get your message across to the media to seminars on charity law, there's something for everyone.

Whether you want to find out about paid work in the voluntary sector, or get involved in a big campaign, why not come and find out more? Check out

Lucy McTernan is the deputy chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations