Stars of the screen and sport have backed Stirling’s bid to bring the title of European Volunteering Capital to Scotland for the first time. Stirling is in the running alongside the Italian city of Padua.
Stirling University alumnus and European Captain for the 2019 Solheim Cup, Catriona Matthew said: “I fully support Stirling’s bid to be named European Volunteering Capital in 2020. Having studied in Stirling myself, I know what a strong community it has, and hopefully we’ll see plenty of volunteers coming forward to support the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles in September 2019. Any participation events, no matter what their size, are reliant on volunteers – they are often the unsung heroes.”
Fellow alumnus, the playwright and author Alan Bissett has also voiced his support: “I was a student at Stirling University, both undergrad and postgrad, so lived in or near the city for eight years, and the place holds a special place in my heart. I’d love to see Europe taking notice of its unique charm and historical importance, as well as the generosity of its people. Volunteering is something which is good for the soul and for society, whether it’s helping out in a local charity shop or being patron of an organisation that does important work. There are all sorts of opportunities in Stirling to get involved with, and this award would be a great focus for that.”
Catriona and Alan are joined in backing the bid by Stirling born actress, Simone Lahbib who returned to city in August this year as chieftain of the Highland Games. Simone said: “I grew up in Stirling, so I’m really keen for the city to get the recognition it deserves. As patron of local charity the Eilidh Brown Memorial Fund, which was set up in memory of my niece, I’ve witnessed first-hand how committed the Stirling community are to helping local good causes. Our family have been overwhelmed by how generous people have been with their time and skills to support Eilidh’s dream of building a respite home for children affected by cancer and their families.”
Scotland’s politicians as well as over 140 local businesses have also thrown their weight behind the campaign.
Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, Aileen Campbell said: “It is well known that volunteering brings enormous benefits to people and communities and also to the volunteers themselves. I want us to create a society where volunteering is the norm – where opportunity or expectation is not limited by upbringing or social circumstances. That’s why I’m delighted to formally endorse Stirling’s bid for European Volunteering Capital 2020. Being declared a candidate city is a wonderful testament to all those volunteers who enrich the lives of our communities. It is also an opportunity for us to show the judges that we have the potential to do much more – to inspire volunteers across the continent and encourage even more people to get involved.”
The Rt Hon Lord Jack McConnell, First Minister of Scotland 2001-2007 and Leader of Stirling Council, 1990-1992, said: “Stirling’s bid to become European Capital of Volunteering 2020 has my full support. From the town out to the University and across the rural communities, residents of Stirling volunteer at all ages and in all communities. Becoming European Capital of Volunteering would recognise all of those considerable efforts across many diverse communities and age groups, but it would also set an ambitious target to increase volunteering and therefore strengthen our communities further.”
The bid has also attracted the support of Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford: “This is an exciting opportunity for Stirling. Having met with Volunteer Scotland and others to discuss this bid, I know how much work is going on behind the scenes to win this for our city. Volunteers make a phenomenal contribution to modern life, and Stirling has a fair share of volunteers who work tirelessly to offer a range of services and support a number of causes. Wishing the team all the best for their presentation in Brussels, I will be cheering you on!”
Meanwhile, Stirling MP Stephen Kerr lodged an early day motion at the House of Commons: “Across Stirling there is an outstanding record of people contributing their time and effort in so many ways. I am calling on all Scottish MPs to support the bid by signing the Early Day Motion I have lodged in the House of Commons and it would be well deserved if Stirling was named volunteering capital of Europe.”
Representatives of Stirling’s bid team – Volunteer Scotland, Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise and Stirling Council – will travel to Brussels on Thursday 25 October to make their case to the judging panel. The winner will be announced on 5 December 2018, International Volunteer Day.