Stirling’s Festival of Volunteering is back for 2018, 19-25 September. This year’s week-long celebration will focus on inclusive volunteering and building strong communities.

George Thomson, Chief Executive of Volunteer Scotland said: “The Festival is not just about recognising existing volunteers, it’s about reaching people who experience exclusion from volunteering and bringing communities together. We know that the current system of matching volunteers to roles doesn’t work for everyone. If we want to see increased participation, we need to rethink volunteering and look at what motivates people to volunteer. We’ve found that people are looking for opportunities that allow them to make a meaningful contribution and connect with others. For many people that’s about finding ways to help out in their own communities that match their interests.”

There’ll be plenty of inspiration on offer at the festival’s family day at King’s Park on Saturday 22 September 12-4pm, with over 30 local organisations and charities set to take part.

Family day organiser, Margaret Starkie said: “We’ll have lots of free activities to entertain the kids from a bouncy castle, water walkers and bubble football to a silent disco, sports taster sessions and arts and crafts. We’ll also have our Community Bubble tent where you can make giant bubbles, find out what builds strong communities with our giant Jenga game, write your own community prescription with advice from our ‘doctors’ and become a researcher for the day with our citizen scientists.”

The Festival will also see Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise celebrate the 15th anniversary of their Supported Volunteering Programme with a special afternoon tea for past and present volunteers on Thursday 20 September.

Natalie Masterson, SVE Chief Executive said: “In the past 15 years the programme has been privileged to help over 500 volunteers with extra support needs to find and maintain a voluntary placement within Stirling’s community. In turn, they have given their time, energy and enthusiasm to community causes across the Stirling Council area. During the Festival we want to celebrate all volunteers, but there is something special about individuals who have faced adversity and yet still give their time to help make our communities a better place to live. We want to celebrate the impact that the supported Volunteering Programme has had, not only on the organisations that have gained volunteers, but also on the individuals who have experienced such a positive impact on their physical and mental health.”

The Festival will draw to a close on Tuesday 25 September with a Youth Volunteering Conference at the Tolbooth, co-designed and co-delivered by young people. The event will bring together practitioners, young volunteers, policy makers and researchers to discuss the challenges and solutions to engaging young people as volunteers.

George Thomson said: “We know that young people living in areas of deprivation and those who have a disability are much less likely to volunteer. However, these young people can often have the most to gain from volunteering.”

This year’s festival is extra special as Stirling is in the running to be named European Volunteering Capital 2020. The winner of the competition, which recognises regions which offer outstanding support for volunteers, will be announced in December.

The city will be presented with its candidacy certificate at the Festival’s closing ceremony.

For the full festival programme:

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