by Keith Anderson, AVA Head of Development
The start of this year’s Volunteer’s Week is a timely opportunity to reflect on the last twelve months and realise just how much was done for so many by volunteers, at an unprecedented time of need. The pandemic and its subsequent lockdowns has undoubtedly raised the profile of volunteering with many more now aware of the power and ability of volunteers. At AVA, we almost had a birds eye view of the responses in communities across Aberdeenshire when the lockdowns were announced; groups large and small, new and existing simply got going with providing much needed support, relief and comfort. What they all had in common was volunteers, people willing to simply give their time for the benefit of others, and what a difference they made.
While many have much to be grateful for during the pandemic, we have to remember that Aberdeenshire has always had a richness when it comes to volunteering in our communities. Many local services are provided by volunteers, many local facilities are only open and available because volunteers give their time freely and many local events, that are so popular in many communities, only happen every year because volunteers step up and make them happen. Aberdeenshire is a better place to live because of our volunteers and the difference they make - you could say they’re worth their weight in gold.
Statistics indicate that almost one in four of us living in Aberdeenshire are volunteering or have volunteered recently – that is approximately 70,000 people. In Aberdeenshire, AVA is aware of approximately 2500 third sector groups or organisations, and they all depend on volunteers to do what they do.
AVA has more than 500 member organisations and the range of work they cover is astounding. Our members range from Men’s Sheds to pre-school toddlers groups; charity shops to village hall boards, local heritage societies to food banks, and everything in between. All relying on volunteers.
We have our very own volunteer team at our social enterprise, Magpie, which would not be able to run without their valuable time and skills. We will be celebrating them this Volunteers’ Week but we certainly appreciate them every day.
Volunteers in Aberdeenshire make such a difference, they do it freely and they do it well. So, to every volunteer, whatever they do and however they do it, AVA says a very big THANK YOU.