On Thursday the 22nd June 2017 I had the pleasure of sitting in a room with many community and voluntary service leaders discussing how we bring recognition to our volunteers.

One leader reminded us that Scotland has over 1 million volunteers and how cumbersome and broad a national recognition scheme may be (suggesting that the Saltire Awards for young adults has lost its integrity with so many being printed out and handed out without any recognised traceability). I’m not sure I agree with all that was said but what is needed for sure is a professional looking way of measuring, reviewing and recognising the efforts of our volunteers.

It may be lost in translation, but my points were that there should – just like in the professional world – be a way of measuring a volunteers continual development (CPD in the business world) and assess those who have achieved an outstanding contribution to the 3rd sector by making them a “chartered volunteer” recognised by having the words C.Vol after there name (in the same way I have been a C.Eng and a C.Phys in the professional world).

If the government are truly going look at a way of recognising the huge and valuable contribution of our volunteers then they could help fund this move…..a move that is sustainable. Some points, if I may:

– Need a system of measuring : whether its duration of service, or/and training received along the way
– Need to make sure that if a volunteer becomes a paid employee of the 3rd sector that his/her recognition is not lost, but is adjusted (i.e. recognition of past Chartered Volunteer). Maybe PC.Vol. after their name.

This type of recognition need a HQ and a small number of employees to make this work. In other wards it would require government funding!

So what would the government achieve?

A sustained volunteer workforce that feels honoured and recognised. These are the type of people who run our food banks, who provide befriending services to the socially isolated and vulnerable. These services – run in the main by volunteers – alleviates strain on various government systems (like welfare, benefits, etc), whilst dealing with the deprivation and isolation by creating community and sign-posting to other services to benefit the individuals (i.e. drug, alcohol, abuse services).

Would this work? I think so, but does anyone really want to listen?