Businesses and charities in Scotland are being encouraged to give people more opportunities to volunteer their time and skills.

Leading family support charity, Home-Start UK has produced research to coincide with Volunteers’ Week that shows the benefits of volunteering include improved self-confidence, work skills and overall physical and mental wellbeing1.

Many businesses currently offer volunteer opportunities, but a mixture of workplace culture and poor opportunities offered by charities mean that often take up is less than 20%.

Shelagh Young, Home-Start’s Director for Scotland, says “Volunteering has such a huge benefit on those people who give their time, and on the families and organisations they support. But it also has benefits for the organisations they work for, and the community as a whole. Charity, business and society need to work harder together to give people more, and better, opportunities to volunteer their time and skills.”

Home-Start’s research into volunteers in Scotland shows that people who volunteered:

  • Improved their problem solving, organisational and job related skills
  • Improved their ability to communicate
  • Improved their physical and mental health

The research also showed that the number of volunteers in the study who were actively seeking employment increased between the start of their training course and six months into their role.

Shelagh Young continued “Our research shows that regular, well-supported volunteering makes people happier, improves their health and wellbeing and gives them better work skills. We also know that employees who are more committed to their organisation are more productive, and less likely to resign2. Smart employers can use volunteering as a cost-effective way of improving the skills and morale of their workforce. Enabling people to volunteer for a couple of hours each week, either through regular paid time off or more flexible hours , is a win-win strategy.”

Home-Start is encouraging people to get in touch with their local Home-Start to find out how they can help support families in their local community.

1 “New volunteerism in Scotland with Home-Start: Co-producing positive impacts for families, volunteers and local communities, June 2016, Elizabeth Young PhD MSc RGN and Joyce Kenkre PhD MSc RGN 
2 “The keys to corporate responsibility employee engagement”, February 2014, PWC