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Services and support within each Local Authority, Jobcentre Plus or Health Board area.


Volunteering is a significant element within Scottish society. The Scottish Government's 2012 Scottish Household Survey shows that 29% of the adult population had formally volunteered at some time over that year. As well as supporting your local community, volunteering - and particularly formal volunteering - is increasingly regarded as a extremely useful activity to help people back into work.

  • Formal volunteering is when you agree to volunteer for an organisation that requires a particular task or job to be done. Typically you might have to fill in an application form and/or have an interview to secure the position.
  • Informal volunteering are activities like helping an elderly neighbour with their garden.

The employability benefits of volunteering include:

  • Re-establishing a work routine - formal volunteering opportunities have the same routines as regular paid work. Punctuality, start time, finish time, accepting supervision, team working, initiative, and socialising are work place routines that can be easily lost when out of work and can be built up through volunteering.
  • Learn new skills - formal volunteering can help you to learn new skills, particularly useful if thinking of a career change.
  • Try out a new career or job type - volunteering provides the opportunity to try out a new type of work and assess whether it meets your expectations, interests and skills.
  • Update existing skills - volunteering can be very useful to check if your skills are still up to date for the type of work you want to do.

Supported Volunteering

Supported Volunteering refers to schemes where volunteers receive additional support in order to carry out their volunteer roles. For instance, they may:

  • Lack confidence after a long period of unemployment.
  • Have physical disabilities or health conditions.
  • Have learning disabilities.
  • Have mental health issues.
  • Be homeless.
  • Be striving to break patterns of negative behaviour, such as gambling or drug misuse.
  • Be a non-English speaker.

The support offered can take many forms and will depend on the individual volunteer's needs. For instance:

  • The Volunteer Manager may meet with the individual to discuss their needs and identify ways in which the organisation can support them to volunteer, or the volunteer may already have a carer or support worker who can assist them in performing their volunteer role.
  • Some organisations may provide a buddy or a mentor, who could be either a more experienced volunteer or a member of staff. In some cases, volunteers may require extra supervision or scheduled support meetings.
  • The need for additional support isn't always ongoing, as some volunteers may only need extra support on their first day with the organisation, to help them settle in. For others, they may only need help with learning the route from their home to the place where they will be volunteering.

Information on volunteering can be found at:

  • Volunteer Scotland - information on the latest volunteering opportunities in Scotland and local volunteer centres.
  • Volunteer Development Scotland - charity dedicated to the volunteer and their enjoyment of volunteering. It leads in informing and modernising approaches to volunteering policy, enhancing practice and improving the quality of the volunteering experience for the people of Scotland. A series of good practice guides are provided by VDS.
  • Volunteering Support Fund - open to support third sector organisations in Scotland to create new volunteering projects; increase the diversity of their volunteers (especially those experiencing disadvantage); and improve opportunities, skills and personal development through volunteering. The Fund will also help organisations enhance their services and improve their capacity to deploy, support and train volunteers.
  • Youth Volunteering Awards - The Saltire Awards, the Scottish Government's youth volunteering award for 12- 25 year olds were launched across Scotland in 2012. The awards aim to strengthen the links between volunteering and schools and increase the opportunities for young people to take part in volunteering within their local community.
  • Time Banking Scotland - aims to connect people with their communities and interest groups by exchanging their time and talents in a mutually beneficial way. Time banking is based on the simple principle that for every hour of time a person contributes to help another; they receive the equivalent in time credits. These time credits are stored and then exchanged for services when needed from others.