Category Archives: Volunteering

Volunteering does Omkar credit!

When Omkar Hushing came to Britain shortly after getting married, he already had experience working for a mortgage lender in Mumbai. However, he was unable to find a job in the UK until he volunteered at London Capital Credit Union.

Omkar Hushing

Omkar Hushing

“It was very hard for me to get a job when I first moved here, because people didn’t think my experience in India was relevant to the UK market,” says Omkar from Hither Green.

But now, following three months’ volunteering with London Capital Credit Union, Omkar has secured a full time job with Initial Finance in West London. “Before I had the experience at the credit union, it was hard to get an interview let alone a job,” he says.

“During my time volunteering with the credit union I met some fantastic people and I was able to help with loan decisions for their members.”

London Capital Credit Union, based in Archway, is a not-for-profit co-operative dedicated to promoting saving and dealing with debt and provides secure savings and low cost loans for anyone living, working or studying in Barnet, Camden, City of London, Hackney, Haringey or Islington.

As a volunteer at the credit union, Omkar helped out in a number of administrative roles, but he says he was most at home with the loan process.

Credit unions offer relatively small – but affordable – loans to their members. Says Omkar: “Credit unions help people get back onto their feet and I can say that they also offered me a great chance to establish myself in the UK.”

According to Omkar, the credit union’s ethical approach to financial services will stay with him in his future career. “Credit unions really do good; they care about their customers and the way they treat people will influence how I deal with people in the future.”

To find out more about how London Capital Credit Union could help you, please visit www.credit-union.coop.

Stranraer young volunteers recognised

Four young people from the Stranraer area have gained recognition for their volunteering work through The Saltire Awards.

Saltire Awards logoAimee McCracken, Jack McQueen and brothers David and Alistair Stuart have all been presented with certificates in recognition of their efforts volunteering for local organisations.

The Saltire Awards recognise the commitment and contribution of young people volunteering in Scotland and are endorsed by the Scottish Government and by First Minister Alex Salmond.

The awards enable volunteers between the ages of 12 and 25 to gain new skills and practical experience through volunteering placements provided by local and national voluntary organisations. They  are designed to encourage more young people to volunteer within their local community, benefitting both the community and the young person.

Jack McQueen received an award certificate for 200 hours’ volunteer work, which is a tremendous achievement.

Jack volunteers as an administrative assistant at Stranraer Skills Station, a social business that offers support services to people with a variety of needs, and since September has attended the John Niven Centre, studying business admin. Jack attends college three days a week and volunteers on the two days when not at college, which provides him with valuable experience to enhance his education.

Aimee McCracken received award certificates for achieving 10 hours and 25 hours of volunteer work. Aimee is supported by Stranraer Skills Station to complete voluntary placements in the local community. One of her placements is within a childcare establishment and another in a local school. In both placements Aimee helps the young people with their activities, demonstrating how to play games, assisting with arts and crafts and keeping the children on task.

David and Alistair Stuart from Stranraer also each received certificates for their 10 and 25 hours awards. David volunteers with Wigtownshire Animal Welfare Association and Alistair volunteers with Active Schools Wigtownshire. Positive feedback was received from Wigtownshire Animal Welfare Association about David’s dedication and enthusiasm to help the animals in their care and from Active Schools about Alistair’s commitment and determination to support other young people taking part in sporting activities. David and Alistair both thoroughly enjoy volunteering and would recommend it to other young people.

Speaking about The Saltire Awards, David Coulter, Chief Executive at Third Sector First, the organisation which co-ordinates the awards in Dumfries and Galloway, said: “It is always a pleasure to see the positive contribution made by young people to our communities and I am really pleased to see their efforts recognised by these Saltire Awards. Well done to them all.”

More details about The Saltire Awards can be found at www.saltireawards.org.uk.

Survey shows surge in demand for third sector services in Dumfries and Galloway

Organisations in Dumfries and Galloway Third Sector First logothat provide advice and support to the most vulnerable people in our communities have reported a significant increase in demand for their services as a result of the UK Government’s welfare reforms.

A survey of third sector organisations in Dumfries and Galloway, carried out by Third Sector First, showed that, over the last twelve months, almost 94% of organisations that responded said they had seen an increase in demand for their services. All those organisations that responded said they expected demand for their services to increase in the coming year.

The results suggest that that more people are living in fear of change and people are increasingly worried about their employment prospects, whether they can afford to meet housing costs or simply make ends meet.

David Coulter, Chief Executive of Third Sector First, said: “Many of our members are the organisations that people turn to when they are in difficulties. Not only have many of these organisations experienced an increase in demand for their services over the past year, but they predict a further increase in demand in the next twelve months.

“Inevitably what this means is that some of the most vulnerable people in our communities are experiencing increased levels of stress and mental health problems.”

The results of Third Sector First’s survey will be revealed in full at Connect 2013 – a conference being held in Dumfries on Friday 8 November that will bring the third and public sectors together to explore issues that affect the people and communities of Dumfries and Galloway.

Visit www.connect2013.org.uk for more information and to book a place.

Celebrating International Credit Union Day

International Credit Union DayThursday 17 October is International Credit Union Day and credit unions around the world, with 200 million members in over 100 countries, are celebrating.

This year’s theme is Unite for Good – a better way, which emphasises the benefits of co-operation among credit unions worldwide.

In Britain, some of the things that have been happening include:

  • The Archbishop of Canterbury sent his first Instagram message to urge people to use credit unions
  • Labour leader Ed Miliband announced plans to support credit unions through a levy on the payday loans industry
  • The Scottish Parliament held a reception for  credit unions, partner organisations and MSPs from across Scotland
  • Bishops around the country showed their support for credit unions with 39 Bishops in 29 dioceses involved in the day and over 50 credit unions being supported.

Mark Lyonette, Chief Executive of ABCUL – the Association of British Credit Unions, said: “We very much welcome the widespread support for credit unions on International Credit Union Day. People ‘Uniting for Good’ in communities and workplaces around the country means that fair and affordable financial services are becoming much more widely available through credit unions.

“It is appropriate today to thank the thousands of volunteers and staff in nearly 400 credit unions around the country who are committed to providing great value financial services. They are not driven by profit, but by the desire to meet the needs of their neighbours and colleagues.”

Credit unions in Britain look after over £1 billion in assets on behalf of over 1 million people.

Calling all voluntary organisations in Dumfries and Galloway

Third Sector First, Third Sector First logothe Dumfries and Galloway wide organisation set up to promote charities, voluntary organisations and community-led groups, is holding two training sessions in Castle Douglas.

Volunteers play an important role in many organisations and these workshops will give local organisations help in developing programmes and policies for the involvement of volunteers in their organisation.

Speaking about the courses, David Coulter, Chief Executive at Third Sector First, said: “There are hundreds of voluntary organisations locally which are doing some fantastic work with local volunteers. Many organisations that help to make Dumfries and Galloway the place it is rely on volunteers and it is only right that they receive the best support possible.”

These two workshops are designed to help those organisations consider the important role volunteers play. Topics to be covered include: who volunteers and why; what motivates volunteers; recruiting & selecting volunteers; supporting volunteers and equal opportunities & diversity.

Added David: “Without volunteers our communities would be so much poorer in terms of charity and social cohesion. That’s why we are helping to give local organisations the skills and practical support to help them work with their volunteers.”

The courses run at Castle Douglas Fire Station on Thursday 31 October 2013 and Thursday 5 December 2013, from 9.30am to 4pm.

To find out more or to book contact Third Sector First on 0300 303 8558. Alternatively the workshops can be booked online at http://thirdsectorfirst.eventbrite.co.uk.

Official opening of new Third Sector First centre in Dumfries

Third Sector First is officially openingThird Sector First logo its brand new centre in Dumfries on Friday 27 September, providing a unique space for charities, voluntary organisations, social enterprises and individual volunteers to work and meet.

The centre at 16 Queensberry Street will give voluntary and community organisations across Dumfries and Galloway a modern office location in which they can meet and network with other similar organisations. Within ground floor premises, the new centre has a high profile shop front and excellent provision for disabled access.

Third Sector First is funded by the Scottish Government and Dumfries and Galloway Council to support and develop a strong third sector. The third sector is made up of organisations that have a social purpose and exist to improve the lives of people and communities. This includes community groups, charities, social enterprises and cooperatives and everyone who works or volunteers for them.

Across Dumfries and Galloway there are literally thousands of people working or volunteering for third sector organisations. Until now these organisations haven’t had as strong a voice as they should and Third Sector First is all about changing that.

Third Sector First is holding an Open Day at its brand new centre and all are welcome to come along.

When: Friday 27 September, 10am – 3pm
Where: Third Sector First, 16 Queensberry Street, Dumfries DG1 1EX

Volunteers to recruit more helpers

Potential volunteers can find out more about how they can help a charity hospice by chatting to people already in the role.

Existing volunteers will talk about what it’s like to volunteer for St Oswald’s Hospice, in Newcastle, at a coffee morning designed to recruit more volunteers for the charity’s shops.

Andrew Moir, St Oswald’s head of retail, said: “The coffee morning is a great chance to come and find out more about the volunteer opportunities available. Not only is the help invaluable to the charity, but it can give you the chance to meet new people, gain new skills, and provide the opportunity for you to make a difference to your local community.”

The Volunteer Coffee Morning takes place from 10.30am to 12pm on July 16 at St Oswald’s Gateshead shop, in Jackson Street. The store manager and current volunteers will be available to talk to prospective recruits.

St Oswald’s wants volunteers regardless of their ages, backgrounds and experience.

Anyone who is unable to attend can find out more by calling the hospice’s volunteer office on 0191 2469125 or emailing volunteer@stoswaldsuk.org.