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Glasgow’s Volunteering Charter

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In 2014, we delivered “the best Commonwealth Games ever”, with thousands of people volunteering to help in appropriate ways at the Games Ceremonies, as Clydesiders, at Pride House, and as Host City Volunteers.

Glasgow is determined to increase inclusive volunteering opportunities as part of our Glasgow 2014 Legacy ambitions, and over the next 3 years we will be challenging every organisation in the city to sign up to this new Charter and to take advantage of the support on offer.

The Charter has been endorsed by Glasgow Community Planning Partnership and has been developed to help deliver Glasgow’s Strategic Volunteering Framework and the relevant elements of the city’s Legacy 2014 Framework, the Poverty Leadership Panel’s action plan, the CLD action plan, and the city’s Resilience Strategy.


Click on any of the questions/topics below to display the information.

Why does Glasgow need a Volunteering Charter?

Indicators suggest that in the context of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and the Legacy 2014 Framework, the city has significantly increased public interest in volunteering over the last 5 years. But any increase in advertised opportunities is failing to keep pace: the gap between people interested in volunteering and available opportunities has been widening. (Source: Volunteer Glasgow)

In 2015, we appear to have achieved a small increase in the number of adults volunteering in Glasgow for the first time since 2008 (Glasgow Household Survey – 2008, 2012, 2015.) This is consistent with a small but significant increase in advertised opportunities.

However, the rate for those living in the worst 15% SIMD data zones is still significantly less than the rate for the other half of the city. As a result, the overall rate for Glasgow is still much less than the Scottish average. (SIMD – Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation; Scottish Household Survey 2007-13; NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Health & Wellbeing Survey 2015.)

How do you define “volunteering”?

In its Volunteering Strategy (2004 – 2009) the Scottish Government defined volunteering as: “…the giving of time and energy through a third party, which can bring measurable benefits to the volunteer, individual beneficiaries, groups and organisations, communities, the environment and society at large. It is a choice undertaken of one’s own free will, and is not motivated primarily for financial gain or for a wage or salary.”

All the other definitions we have examined agree on three elements: volunteering is by choice, is unpaid and it benefits people in the wider community outside immediate family.

Why is volunteering important to Glasgow?

Volunteering is the lifeblood of our 21st century, democratic civil society. People across the city choose to volunteer to:

  • Run sport and the arts
  • Support other people when they’re vulnerable
  • Provide programmes and activities for our children and young people
  • Govern charities and community groups
  • Deliver advice and information services
  • Raise funds for charity
  • Protect and enhance the environment
  • Work to promote community safety and justice
  • Promote animal welfare
  • Develop other people’s skills and support learning
  • Provide mutual support, health, housing and social care services
  • Undertake collective action/representation
  • Help organise and deliver events
  • Campaign for change.

“All the evidence tells us that volunteering rates need to increase if we are going to make Scotland a happier, healthier and more prosperous place to live.” (#WhyVolunteeringMatters)

How do people benefit from doing unpaid voluntary work?

There is an ever increasing body of evidence which confirms that people who volunteer are happier, healthier and more employable:

“Once you tot up the private benefits of volunteering – well-being, health, skills – something quite striking becomes apparent. The benefits to volunteering might be as large, if not larger, for volunteers themselves as for recipients. In other words, in giving we really do receive – possibly as much as we give!” (Taken from a speech given by Andrew Haldane, Chief Economist, Bank of England: “In giving, how much do we receive? The Social Value of Volunteering”, September 2014.)

The Charter is designed to significantly increase opportunities for people to volunteer over the next 3 years, providing the support for organisations to ensure those opportunities are inclusive, accessible for all and providing positive experiences.

What are the benefits to organisations of signing the Charter?

Providing more volunteering opportunities and making them more inclusive can benefit your organisation in a number of ways:

  • People who are volunteering for your organisation are donating their time, skills, experience and energy: you can do much more for your service users, members and wider beneficiaries by harnessing this support.

  • By signing the Charter, you are making a public commitment to our shared objectives.

  • Once you have achieved the Charter Mark, you can boost your organisation’s profile, receiving recognition from key partners for your contribution to the city’s shared objectives.

In signing up to the charter you are joining a host of likeminded organisations in Glasgow that recognise the value in both offering volunteering opportunities and allowing staff to volunteer. The city will work to promote that collective effort. Key partners have worked incredibly hard with us over the last year [and with Volunteer Glasgow] to design the Charter so that organisations can take advantage of effective support services to achieve their pledges and fulfil our shared aims of making the city fairer, healthier, greener, more resilient and more successful.

Many public and third sector organisations will encounter some challenges in fulfilling their Volunteering Charter pledges. The Community Planning Partnership is determined that you can access effective support to meet any challenges: Volunteer Glasgow will assist you.

How will the Charter work and what will be expected of signatories?

Over the next 3 years, Charter signatory organisations from across the public, private and third sectors will be challenged to make one or more of the associated pledges to:

  • Create and expand appropriate opportunities for volunteering within their organisation


  • Ensure your opportunities are accessible to all sections of the community, and that your volunteering workforce reflects the demographics of the city


  • Facilitate and enable your staff, members and/or service users to undertake volunteering activity which improves their wellbeing and benefits Glasgow

On the basis of our research, we believe that the Charter will only work if signatory organisations are required to create action plans to fulfil their pledges and if they are supported effectively to do so: you can view the commitments required of signatories by clicking on this link: Charter Signatories’ Commitments

Organisations will be supported by the small team of specialists at Volunteer Glasgow to address any organisational challenges they might face, to make best use of resources and examples of good practice, and to take advantage of action learning and volunteer management training workshops: you can view the detailed support services available by clicking on this link: Charter Support Services

Why is the Charter being launched in three phases?

During phase 1 (June – November 2016):

  • Any public or third sector organisation can register an interest in the Charter and access the online resources to work towards Charter pledges via these web pages.
  • We are encouraging signatory organisations to concentrate on pledges #1 and #2 so that we increase opportunities and make them more accessible. (We need more inclusive opportunities before we challenge and support organisations to do more to encourage employees, members and service users to volunteer.)
  • Additional support services from Volunteer Glasgow to fulfil Charter pledges will be limited to 30 targeted organisations. This will ensure strategic partners can make an initial assessment of the immediate impact of the Charter, the common issues and challenges faced by signatories, and the demand for support services. Each of these 30 initial signatory organisations will have a named contact at Volunteer Glasgow and will be able to access additional action-planning workshops. (A nominal fee may apply for workshops).

During phase 2 (from December 2016) we will aim to increase the number of signatories to pledges #1 and #2 subject to the evaluation of phase 1.

Phase 3 will launch Charter pledge #3, challenging and supporting organisations across the public, private and third sectors to, “Facilitate and enable their staff, members and/or service users to undertake volunteering activity which improves their wellbeing and benefits Glasgow.”

Can multiple organisations sign up as a partnership?

Organisations working in partnership on volunteering programmes can sign-up to the Charter as a partnership where they can commit to one or more Charter pledges on the basis that they are planning to achieve them through a joint action plan. However, each organisation must:

  1. Demonstrate that they have individually sought approval from their governing bodies.
  2. Nominate a lead officer for the Charter commitments from each partner organisation (e.g. two organisations: two lead officers)
  3. Submit one joint Charter census form with baseline data, then annually thereafter
  4. Submit one joint action plan which clearly identifies the contribution of each partner organisation
Charter Home | Background & FAQsPrinciples | Commitments | Support | Register

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