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FM serves tea with Western General volunteers

First Minister Alex Salmond has served tea with longstanding volunteers of the Royal Voluntary Service at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.   As part of Volunteers’ Week, the First Minister spent an hour meeting volunteers and staff of the Royal Voluntary Service (formerly known as the WRVS), serving tea from the hospital café to staff, patients and visitors. During the visit Mr Salmond met a number of older volunteers including Margaret Collinson, age 83, Eleanor Taylor, age 79, and Agnes McFarlane, age 88, who between them have given more than 100 years of voluntary service.

The First Minister also encouraged people to nominate volunteers for a Diamond Champion award which recognises and highlights the fantastic, selfless volunteering that is being done by older volunteers across the country.

Mr Salmond said:

Scotland has a rich tradition of volunteering and community involvement is part of the core fabric of Scottish social and community life. Volunteering represents a huge investment of time, energy and commitment by individuals who want to improve the lives of those around them, give something back and help make their communities better places to live.

“The Royal Voluntary Service volunteers who have given so much of their lives in voluntary service have been inspirational to meet. Not only are these individuals doing a wonderful job in serving those who come to their café, they also get so much out of it for themselves.

“A service like this is not just crucial for those who visit hospital, for patients and their families, nurses, doctors and hospital staff but also for the older volunteers as it provides an opportunity to work together, to socialise and to remain active.

“I am overwhelmed by the commitment and dedication of the volunteers here at the Western General and touched by the care and compassion with which they deliver their roles. Volunteers are a true credit to Scotland and I sincerely thank them for all that they do.”

David McCullough, Royal Voluntary Service chief executive, said:

We are delighted to welcome the First Minister to our cafe at the Western General Hospital and introduce him to some of our dedicated volunteers. Volunteers’ Week is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the fantastic work of our army of 7,000 volunteers across Scotland who, without making a fuss or asking for reward, give their time selflessly to others, which is why this week we are launching Diamond Champions our search for volunteers over the age of 60; the hidden gems in our community.

“So if you know an older volunteer who deserves some recognition then please nominate them for this prestigious award. We know that our volunteers make a huge difference to the lives of older people and they themselves also get great satisfaction from the work they do; so it’s win-win!”

Carol Crowther, NHS Lothian’s Assistant Nurse Director Person Centred Care, Quality, Patient Experience & Professional Standards, said:

The presence of the Royal Voluntary Service volunteers in our hospitals is very welcome and contributes to the overall positive experience for users of our services through the warm and welcoming atmosphere in their cafes and shops and their cheerful attitude toward staff and patients.

“The Royal Voluntary Service outlets on our sites give back proceeds to the hospital from income generated from these outlets.  This means that these volunteers not only give their time but their support enables this financial gifting through which we are able to provide additional patient comforts at the Western General Hospital.

“We are very proud of the contribution all our hospital volunteers make. They bring a range of skills and life experiences and are extremely beneficial in the delivery of all our services.”

About Royal Voluntary Service
Formerly known as WRVS, Royal Voluntary Service has been helping people in Britain for 75 years.  Originally set up as the Women’s Voluntary Service in 1938, the charity played a crucial role during the Second World War. Whilst keeping the same values of community service, Royal Voluntary Service has now focused its work on helping older people to remain independent and get more out of life.

Royal Voluntary Service supports over 100,000 older people to stay independent in their own homes for longer with tailor made solutions. Through its army of 40,000 volunteers, the charity runs services such as Good Neighbours (companionship), Meals-on-Wheels and Books-on-Wheels that alleviate loneliness and help older people. Royal Voluntary Service also provides practical support for older people who have been in hospital through its On Ward Befriending and Home from Hospital services. For further information please go to: www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk

Volunteers Week
Volunteers’ Week 2013 takes place from 1 June 2013 until 7 June 2013.  It is an annual celebration of volunteering and is now in its 29th year, run by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations in partnership with Volunteer Development Scotland, Volunteer Now (Northern Ireland) and Wales Council for Voluntary Action. This year’s Volunteers’ Week focuses on saying ‘Thank You’ to the millions of volunteers who regularly contribute to society, and to recognise the way that organisations celebrate the work of volunteers across the UK.

The 2011 Scottish Household Survey shows that around three in ten people providing unpaid help to organisations or groups. The type of organisations most commonly volunteered for are schools (23%), followed by other youth/children’s organisations (19%), and health, disability and social welfare organisations (19%). The third (voluntary) sector contributes in a major way to the strength of the Scottish economy.

The Scottish Government provides the 32 third sector interfaces across Scotland and their representative national organisation (Voluntary Action Scotland) with a total of £8.25 million for the period 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014 to deliver 4 key functions, one of which is volunteering development. In addition, support of over £0.8m is being provided to Volunteer Development Scotland (VDS) for the period 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014 to develop, promote and enhance volunteering across Scotland.  VDS’s Volunteering Scotland Website is the national portal for volunteering and offers thousands of volunteering opportunities from small, local organisations to large scale international agencies.

The Saltire Awards, the Scottish Government’s new youth volunteering award for 12-25 year olds were launched across Scotland on 1 April 2012. The new awards aim to strengthen the links between volunteering and schools and increase the opportunities for young people to take part in volunteering within their local community. Additionally, the Voluntary Action Fund, on behalf of Scottish Government, delivers the Volunteer Support Fund  (£1m) to local community grass-roots organisations to support and promote volunteering among a variety of groups, including young people.

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