New drive to tap into Fife’s lockdown boom in volunteering
Fife is hoping to capitalise on the goodwill of locals who looked after one another during the Covid-19 pandemic with a new volunteering masterplan.
The Volunteering Strategy for Fife, endorsed by Fife' s public sector partnership board, aims to increase the number of people volunteering throughout the Kingdom on a permanent basis after spending months helping elderly and vulnerable neighbours.
Public sector bodies will promote the feelgood benefits of volunteering, and hope to convince employers to give their staff time off each year to do their bit for the community - with the goal of ensuring the surge in goodwill that came about during the crisis does not wither away.
Tim Kendrick, community development manager, said: "This aims to build on the goodwill of others - what we call 'informal volunteering' - throughout the pandemic: people getting up and helping their neighbours, shopping, befriending, collecting prescriptions, that type of thing."
Around 80,000 Fifers - roughly 23% of the population - volunteer regularly. The partnership believes that another 35,000 volunteers would create a million extra hours of help each year.
Fife Voluntary Action (FVA) is being tasked with the lion's share of the work, from creating an online platform listing volunteering opportunities through to improving training and accreditation schemes to inspire and motivate those who give up their time to help others.
The goal of the strategy is to make Fife "renowned for a culture of volunteering," according to Kenny Murphy, chief executive of FVA.
The partnership has unanimously agreed to endorse the strategy - but David Ross, Labour co-leader of Fife Council, gave his blessing with a caveat.
He said: "We've all seen the efforts individuals have made over the course of the pandemic and one of the key things is that we don't lose that.
"We need to capitalise on it, support it and encourage it...but we need to recognise that volunteering is not a substitute for good quality public services.
"When services are under pressure there's the imperative to look for savings and whatever but we still need to maintain good quality public services through the council and all the other organisations that provide them."