As we’re the voice of a sector with the most volunteer opportunities in the country, the Charity Retail Association is getting behind Stirling’s candidacy to be European Volunteering Capital 2020.
I met with Bruce Crawford, MSP for Stirling, on a joint visit to the town’s Marie Curie shop. The visit focused on the positive impact volunteering has on the volunteers themselves, the charity and the local area. Volunteering in charity retail can be an excellent way to learn new skills, enter or re-enter the workforce; in addition to helping to combat mental health problems and social isolation. Our research shows more than three-quarters of volunteers believe that their role has improved their self-esteem and confidence (77 per cent), and improved their physical and/or mental health (73 per cent).
During the visit, Mr Crawford was shown current work happening on the shop floor and behind the scenes. As a discount store, the Marie Curie Stirling team sell a variety of goods at reduced prices which seem to be popular with local high street shoppers.
People of all ages and backgrounds volunteer at the shop with many recent volunteers moving on to paid employment following their experience. Shop manager, Morag Hunter commented: “Our volunteers benefit greatly as they gain work experience, socialise and contribute to a good cause.”
The bid to make Stirling the first European Volunteering Capital in Scotland is supported by more than 120 local and national organisations. As part of the initiative, organisers from Volunteer Scotland aim to motivate 50 per cent of Stirling’s population to take up volunteering. Making it easier for people to volunteer will be good for the sector and has clear social and economic benefits for the town. Charity retail has a huge presence on the volunteering scene so we can only welcome this drive to increase participation.
Public Affairs and Communications Officer (Scotland)
Charity Retail Association