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Find out more about our important work and help support us to bring the benefits of volunteering to more people

The difference we make and how you can help

For almost 50 years Volunteer Edinburgh has been supporting people and communities in Edinburgh. We connect people to volunteering, helping them make a difference both in their community and in their own life.

We believe that everyone has the right to offer their time to volunteer and we have specialist programs which enable people to participate who may otherwise be excluded through mental ill health, a history of offending or through economic disadvantage.

We also provide dedicated, specialist support to people wishing to use volunteering to improve their paid employment prospects and we have a long established relationship with NHS Lothian, providing specialist volunteering services to patients and the public at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital where in 2019/2020 we delivered 6,500 hours of volunteering.

At the start of the global pandemic Volunteer Edinburgh responded quickly, recruiting over 500 fantastic Community Taskforce Volunteers who have been supporting vulnerable people across the city throughout the past year. You can find out more about what we are doing and its impact below.

Community Taskforce Volunteers

Volunteer Edinburgh reacted quickly to support people in our community during the pandemic. We directly recruited 528 Community Taskforce Volunteers, developing a robust on boarding process, suited to remote recruitment, and we are deploying these volunteers all across the city, where they are most needed.

Referrals come from individuals, from family members (often where the family is geographically distant), Social Care Direct, front line health professionals and other statutory and third sector partners.

To date our Community Taskforce Volunteers have undertaken over 3,900 tasks to support vulnerable and isolated people impacted by the pandemic. We’ve also supported NHS and HSCP colleagues deploying volunteers at 561 shifts in Edinburgh’s flu clinic and so far we’ve deployed volunteers into 481 shifts (and counting every day) supporting Covid vaccination centres in the city.

While much of the support given by CTVs is truly one-off, some recipients have more complex needs, the CTV programme has proven effective at identifying individuals in need of further support and being able to provide that support or refer on to appropriate statutory or third sector services.

I can’t think about going to the shops to buy arts and crafts stuff. I can barely manage to get our essentials. Thank you for being here at this difficult time and giving so much support.

Recipient of Community Taskforce support

6 full bags of messages, and up 4 flights of stairs!! I need a lie down!! He was really grateful tho’, makes it worth it!!! ……….The recipient called to say thank you as the family of 8 really appreciated that the volunteer helped out.

Feedback from Community Taskforce Volunteer

Mr and Mrs W are extremely grateful for the shopping – they regularly feedback that the volunteers are kind, friendly people. Many thanks.

S.S Social Worker CEC

I have been delighted to help an older couple who live in my area on a daily basis. Although a small task – delivering their newspaper – it has made a difference to them, and to me. In the first few days we didn’t meet, instead we became accidental pen pals; leaving notes for one another in their porch. It was a real pleasure to meet them and have a chat (at a distance) at their front door. With no family nearby, they were pleased to have this opportunity to talk about their lockdown experiences. I have even met their neighbour who told me that they’ve been singing my praises! In a situation where my own grandmother’s neighbours are looking after her, I am so pleased to be able to pay this kindness forward.

Royal Edinburgh Hospital Volunteering Hub

Background

My first experience of The Royal Edinburgh Hospital was through the Volunteering Hub. I was just beginning my journey transitioning from corporate sales to a career in psychology, and I was extremely excited and slightly apprehensive. When I had applied to The University of Edinburgh, we were given access to a lot of different resources and documents about the Psychology of Mental Health Conversion course and information about the experience required to attempt the lengthy process of applying for the doctorate in clinical psychology.

One of the most important documents that I was to receive, was the lengthy booklet entitled “Gaining relevant experience,” and from the short blurb about the Volunteer Hub, I knew that I wanted to contact the service and enquire about volunteering opportunities.

Training

After successfully passing an informal interview, and completing the necessary checks I was eager to start volunteering. Having previously volunteered within different sectors, and also within the NHS, I was expecting a similar level of training experience. A training that focusses on the important legislation, policies and regulations but perhaps falls short of the experience and skills required for the role.

One of the most exciting aspects of the Volunteer Hub is the ability to continually learn and develop your own skills and knowledge. Within my first weeks of joining the service, I had attended training on Boundaries and Communication and Making Conversation in the Royal Edinburgh. The skills that I learnt in those early sessions proved fundamental in developing my future skills, ambitions and understanding of my role as a practitioner working within mental health.

Volunteering

Library Volunteer:

One of the key hubs of The Royal Edinburgh Hospital is the Library. Most volunteers start their volunteering journey in the library, and within the sessions you are able to interact and meet with other volunteers as well as current and previous patients. The Library sessions gave me an opportunity to really learn and reflect on my ambitions of becoming a Clinical Psychologist. Was I going to be well suited to this career, could I adapt my communication effectively, could I support individuals and also do I enjoy working with people?

After the first session of playing games and reading books, I had already learnt so much about myself. The Library Volunteer Hub felt like home, and I knew this was a familiar sentiment shared by everyone who had experienced the Library.

Supporting Musical Jam, Robert Fergusson Brain Injury:

Soon after starting volunteering, I was asked whether I would like to support a service user in the brain injury unit during their music jam sessions. I was really excited by this opportunity, and whilst I was fairly apprehensive, I was given support by Kate and Angela at the Volunteer Hub to support with my transition.

A particularly emotive memory was when I assisted a service user to sing a rendition of “Angels” by Robbie Williams, and when I think about my time volunteering it is often a memory I return to. Utilising my training and understanding of behaviour, such as the role of amplifiers, really helped me to navigate my role within the sessions and units.

Becoming a Clinical Support Worker:

With the onset of the pandemic, I decided that I wanted to further my experience and knowledge of working with people within mental health. Utilising my training and experience gained from the Volunteer Hub, I was able to secure a position as a clinical support worker within a psychiatric rehabilitation ward at The Royal Edinburgh.

I sought reassurance from the team at the Volunteer Hub. I shared my excitement and apprehensions about the role and my suitability, I was reminded that their door would always be open, and it always was.

One of the most rewarding aspects of working as a clinical support worker was being able to see the impact of the Volunteering Hub within the patient community. On my first week in the ward I was introduced to photos of therapets, listened to DJ sets, shown adverts and poems, that were all cultivated during volunteer sessions.

In that moment it was obvious to me how important the volunteer hub is for the recovery and rehabilitation of patients. How integral the library is to the community of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, and how much happiness and purpose is derived from the feeling of belonging. The mutual value that the volunteers and patients gain from the Volunteer Hub is incredibly unique and specific, it feels like we are part of a very special community.

Further Opportunities

As an aspiring clinical psychologist, another exciting facet of the Volunteer Hub is the focus on gaining further experience and broadening your personal skills. I was fortunate enough to have been contacted by Kate and asked whether I would be interested in applying for an Honorary Assistant Psychologist position at Veterans First. After eagerly applying and interviewing, I was given the opportunity to start volunteering at Veterans First two days a week.

One of the key aspects I had learnt from my training and experience of the Volunteer Hub, was the ability to adapt my communication skills to support individuals. This skill was fundamental in my role of supporting Veterans and working with people who were apprehensive about meeting new people. Whilst I was volunteering and working at the Royal Edinburgh, I would often return to the library for a chat and a cup of tea. The support and validation I have received from the Volunteer team has always been invaluable, and I often think how fortunate I am to have met such wonderful people.

Current Position

Over a year on from my first experience of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, I can now look back at how far I have come in my personal and professional life, and how key the Volunteer Hub has been to my journey.

Next week I commence my position at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital working with older adults, and I have no doubt that my experience of the Volunteer Hub has made this possible.

Harriet Myzak-Douglas

If you would like to support our work, please click on the donate button below and you will be redirected to a secure PayPal window where you can make your donation.

Make your donation go further by completing a Gift Aid Declaration too.

Volunteering Buddying Project

Our Volunteering Buddying Project aims to make it easier for people with additional support needs who are currently unable to participate in volunteering, by recruiting volunteer buddies to support them into such roles. You can find out more about the project here.

The project has been selected as one of the Co-op Local Community Funds and you can help us to support it by becoming a member. To find out more please click here or on the banner below, and if you would like to help us to promote it the banner and QR codes are available as downloads in the sidebar (below on mobile).

We're part of the Co-op Local Community Fund

AmazonSmile

Support us by starting your shopping at AmazonSmile. AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know. Same products, same prices, same service but Amazon donates 0.5% of the net purchase price (excluding VAT, returns and shipping fees) of eligible purchases to the charitable organisation of your choice.

All you need to do is visit the AmazonSmile site by clicking here or on the button below, log in to your Amazon account, pick Volunteer Edinburgh as your charity and shop as normal.

If you would like to make a donation via PayPal or AmazonSmile, or support our Co-op Local Community Fund but you are experiencing issues please contact finance@volunteeredinburgh.org.uk or call 0131 225 0630.