Volunteering brings fresh talent into our SectorPosted on April 13, 2016
Bridges Project is an independent, local charity which works with young people in East Lothian and Midlothian to help them manage the transition from adolescence to young adulthood and life beyond school. They have been a ProjectScotland partner since 2005 – working with us from the very beginning to help young people gain vital experience.
“It’s something we’re very passionate about,” said Jim, Bridges Project CEO, “volunteering helps bring fresh talent into our sector – it opens young people’s eyes to other options and they get very passionate about working for a charity.”
“We have partnerships with universities and organisations across Europe who provide us with interns in and we support a lot of local students looking to do social care placements as part of their courses, but ProjectScotland brings a different type of volunteer. The young people that come to us through ProjectScotland have already done the hard thinking, they’ve chosen to volunteer and are already engaged. They’re passionate, curious, and willing to learn. From the outset there’s the contractual feeling of committing for 3 months. It means we can offer structure and bespoke placements – it’s important that they are involved in what it is that interests them. Volunteers encourage our staff to be more reflective; everyone who comes to us has different ways of learning, different goals they want to reach and we need to respond to this.”
“For example, Adnan came to us with an interest in developing social media – he did all the research and implemented our channels. It’s something that we’d always intended to get to but just hadn’t found the time. He knew where his talent lay; sometimes with other volunteers you need to tease it out of them. Regardless, they all bring added value. With volunteers, we can do more, it’s simple. We get as much out of it as we put in.”
Jim is a big advocate of structured volunteering, and the benefits from his holistic view is reflected in the outcomes of these particular placements. During our discussion Jim could name every volunteer, where they are now, and what they’re doing. All of them are working in similar fields, taking the skills and passion they tapped into during their placement on into their careers.
When asked why volunteering played such a big role in the Bridges Project he said simply, “it’s our duty to bring people into the sector – it’s important to offer opportunity and give value to our sector by inspiring people with what they can do for their community.”