Insights and Ideas – Volunteering

I’ve blogged before (here and here) about the excellent Insights and Ideas Cafe Events run by Creative Scotland and Museums Galleries Scotland. Yesterday’s meeting was on the topic of Volunteering and as ever there were several excellent speakers talking about their experiences of volunteering and volunteer management.

Jemma Neville, from Voluntary Arts Scotland (VAS) talked about the value of the voluntary arts sector and the support that VAS gives to the sector. She highlighted Voluntary Arts Week (11-19 May). This annual event celebrates voluntary arts across the UK. This year the theme is Craftbombing and arts organisations are being encouraged to decorate public spaces with crafts as a colourful celebration of public art. (Participants need to make sure that permission is sought before craftbombing any public space and crafts should be cleared away later or made into a secure exhibition to avoid littering issues). You can find out more about how to get involved on their website.

Diana Morton from Edinburgh Museums and Galleries next spoke about Museums Alive, a volunteer outreach programme that takes museum artefacts and activities into day care centres and nursing homes for reminiscence and arts activities.

Harry Giles then spoke about the ‘creative chaos’ that is  The Forest, Edinburgh’s well known volunteer run cafe and arts space, which recently moved into new premises in the Tollcross area of town. (In it’s previous venue in Bristo Place, it ran the Golden Hour cabaret night of poetry, music and cartoons, which was a highlight of Edinburgh’s alternative cultural scene).

Over tea and biscuits, there was time for discussions with the people we were sitting near. At our table, Steve from Strange Town Theatre Company compared the challenge of getting young volunteers to turn up to regular rehearsals to the seeming ‘turn up when you feel like it’ ethos of Forest volunteering. I mentioned that Water of Leith Conservation Trust patrol volunteers commit to regular volunteering (generally once a week) but as long as we meet our commitment, we can turn up when we want. We then discussed keeping in touch with young volunteers, who often seem to ignore emails and only want to communicate via Facebook.

Then it was time to hear from Paul White from Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) who talked about the support his organisation gives to the voluntary and community sector across Scotland (including excellent training courses). He shared some statistics, including the fact that 68% of all Scottish voluntary sector organisations are grassroots groups with incomes of less than £25 000 per year.

The final speaker was Violet Dalton from National Trust Scotland, who spoke about the support networks for volunteer managers in the heritage sector (Heritage Volunteer Organisers Network and Forum for Environmental Volunteering Activity).

All in all a very insightful discussion of volunteering in the cultural and heritage sectors in Scotland.

Cross posted to Crafty Green Poet

As ever, bold text contains hyperlinks that take youi to other webpages where you can find out more.


About julietwilson

This is my professional blogging account. My personal blog is Crafty Green Poet (

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