#Its time to say thanks

June 1ST – 7TH marks volunteers week. This years theme was going to be ‘Lets Celebrate’. But because we have all found ourselves in the midst of an emergency global pandemic, the theme has been changed.

I enjoy celebrating and have been known to really enjoy a good party. But now doesn’t seem the best time to celebrate. As a mum of 3 children who have had birthdays during lockdown I can definitely say it has been difficult to successfully organise 2020 celebrations.

No gatherings or parties celebrating volunteers will be allowed in 2020 and we will need to mark volunteers week by promoting staying safe and maintaining social distancing rules.

However, this year’s new theme is one I can get behind, and I hope I can persuade others to get fully behind it too. ‘Its Time to say thanks’ is a great theme for the voluntary youth sector in Highland and I hope together we will be able to raise awareness of our work during volunteers week. It is time to recognise the value of volunteering and of community organisations. To recognise the difference this work makes in our Highland communities and to say a big thank you.

Over the last seven years I have been privileged to lead Youth Highland and the voluntary youth sector through some of the toughest times it has ever experienced. A major part of my job is spent supporting voluntary Youth club management committees to seek 100% of their running costs to ensure the survival of community based youth work across the Highlands.

Youth Highland currently supports more than 140 organisations from across the region through the Voluntary Youth Network.

Our membership includes about 50 traditional youth clubs, playschemes and community based groups. These groups work with local volunteers – mums and dads, local community members, young adults, unemployed people.

Volunteers tell us that through helping to run youth clubs they gain new skills and qualifications, feel less isolated, make new friends and build up confidence.

Youth Highland also works closely with specialist organisations who provide support for young people. We have encouraged organisations to use a collaborative approach which supports early intervention and prevention. Organisations active in the Voluntary Youth Network include bereavement and mental health services, disabled organisations, young carers and care experience groups, criminal justice and addiction services.

By using a youth work approach and promoting volunteering, we can support young people facing specific challenges to participate in group work and recognise their lived experiences to positively help other young people. If you would like to know more about the work of Youth Highland and our network of third sector and voluntary youth organisations please sign up to receive our regular newsdrop by contacting jacquie.steel@youthhihgland.org.uk, follow us on Facebook or Twitter or visit our website at www.youthhighland.org.uk

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