Scotland’s first ever festival of volunteering will take place in Stirling this week (21-26 September) in a bid to boost the number of Scots donating their time to good causes.

Festival Director Rob Rae of Volunteer Scotland said: “Scotland is already a very generous nation, with around one and a half million Scots taking part in some form of volunteering. But we know far more people want to volunteer and the festival will highlight the many ways they can get involved. We have more than 70 charities and organisations taking part in the festival, from Marie Curie to the Scouts. So there really is something for everyone.”

The Festival is being piloted in Stirling, with the intention of rolling it out across the country. Rob said: “Our ambition is to see Festivals of Volunteering taking place all over Scotland from 2018. We’re busy drawing up plans to support that aspiration. We’re kicking off with Stirling as it’s a city where people already do a massive amount of voluntary work; over a third of local people currently volunteer. We’ve set ourselves a goal of increasing that figure to 50% within three years and for Stirling to become Scotland’s first volunteering city.”

Ten events will take place across the city in just six days, the largest being a volunteering family fun day in King’s Park on Saturday 23 September.

Kirsty Banks from Stirling Town Break, a local dementia support service, said: “We’re looking forward to taking part in the family fun day and helping raise awareness of the amazing and rewarding volunteering opportunities there are in Stirling. We rely on the incredible support of our volunteers and fundraisers to help us run our service; our volunteers tell us that they learn so much from volunteering, it is a really valuable life experience for people of all ages.”

The festival marks the culmination of a six-month campaign by Volunteer Scotland and eightlocal partners, which saw a series of local groups and charities take over a pop-up shop in Stirling’s city centre where they could promote their volunteering opportunities.

A funding pot of £2000 was also divided out amongst ten local groups with an idea to improve their community. One of the projects to win funding was a weekly memory café for people living with dementia and their families. The café will be officially launched at Dunblane’s Braeport Centre on Wednesday 20 September, a day ahead of World Alzheimer’s Day.

Organiser Breda Seaman said: “We want the café to bring together different generations and give young people the chance to support older people living with dementia in the community. Local school pupils will be baking their ‘granny’s favourite’ cakes using ingredients paid for by the grant and donating these to the café. We’re also looking at creating a recipe book of the cakes to raise further funds for the café to keep it going. I hope the café will become a long-lasting legacy of the volunteer festival.”