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The Positive Impact of Volunteering – Tom Berry

Tom Berry, Chair of Volunteer Glasgow, took a few minutes to tell us about the hugely positive impact volunteering has on individuals, organisations and the communities they support. Tom shares some of his own experience and also highlights the role Volunteer Glasgow plays in supporting and growing volunteering in the city.

You can find the full transcript of the video below:

“My name’s Tom Berry and I am the Chair of the Board at Volunteer Glasgow. That involves working with all the other trustees to safeguard the charitable objectives of the charity – make sure it spends its money correctly, make sure it’s got a future , and that we look after our staff and look after all the people that interact with us and volunteer with us.

The thing that surprised me is, until I got involved with Volunteer Glasgow, I didn’t realise all the things it did. You know, how much it was involved in helping organisations get the volunteers they need, helping people to manage volunteers and how they do it, the Befriending and Mentoring… I think all of us on the Board are always constantly sort of surprised and humbled by all the work that the staff do and the volunteers do. It’s exciting and it’s always interesting. I think as a board member what you really want is you know that the staff are buzzing with ideas and they could do more and they want to do more, but to do more they need more money. But I think we make the funding we get go a heck a long way and that’s impressive in itself.

I don’t think Glasgow would function without volunteering. Scottish people and Glaswegian people volunteer a lot. Thousands and thousands of people registered for the first time to be volunteers lat year because of the pandemic. Money’s tight in the third sector and the voluntary sector and a lot of the best way and the only way to deliver services and support is through using volunteers. So, without all these really charitable-minded people who, in amongst their own personal struggles, family issues, job issues, job worries, they all still stuck their hand up and they all still come along and volunteer whether it’s one hour a month or ten hours a week, or for some people almost a full-time job.

Glasgow is partly the city it is because it’s so full of people who are willing to put in their spare time for free to help their fellow Glaswegian, so it’s vital and it makes Glasgow part of the great city it is, I think.

Well, first of all from a personal perspective, when I got involved and found that opportunity through Volunteer Glasgow to go to Barnardo’s shop. I’d stopped my work in the NHS ‘cause I was suffering from really severe depression. I was medications and I’d been to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to see people, but I really wasn’t going out and about and I was keeping very much myself to myself. I watched a lot of zombie movies and ate a lot of bad food. And that volunteering opportunity gave me a structure to my week, it gave me somewhere I could go where I was welcomed, it gave me an opportunity to interact with the public and work at the till. It gave me responsibilities again. Once I’d been there a few weeks I got to take the takings at the end of the day and go and cash them in the bank. I got to make friends with the people there. The benefit for me for my mental health was huge and I think there’s evidence that the benefit for people’s mental and physical health for the volunteers is huge as well. It helps them connect, it gives them purpose, it gives them structure, it gets them out and about. It gets people sometimes walking up hills or doing walking tours of Glasgow and stuff. There’s known and proven physical and mental benefit of volunteering, and… let alone how it shows if you’re looking for new work, it shows a keenness, it shows new skills that you’ve developed, and all those things really applied for me as well, so… yeah. A real benefit for those that receive the volunteering and the volunteers.

Volunteer Glasgow specifically has a bit on its website where if you’re thinking about volunteering and you’re not sure, or if you’re not sure if you can volunteer because you’re claiming benefits, you can speak to someone at Volunteer Glasgow and they’ll help you out with that and make sure you’re doing everything right and you’re not going to get into any issues. And you won’t regret it because I think the last time I checked we had hundreds of organisations advertising through one year, looking for thousands of volunteers. So the chances that you’ll find something that suits you, utilises a skill you’ve got or is something you’re interested in and will take up as much of your time as you want it to… there’s so many opportunities out there, you’re bound to find something you’re a good match for.”


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