Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway – Volunteers’ Week 2024

As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Volunteers Week, we are taking a look closer to home and featuring some of our own staff who volunteer for local organisations in their spare time.

Richard Rennie, is our Locality Development Officer in Nithsdale, and volunteers as a cricket club coach.

Richard Rennie

He said: “I recently moved back to the area from Dundee and wanted to be part of the local community to help others. Over 15 years, I supported my local cricket club in Dundee starting off as a coach and then taking on more responsibility to become the club’s junior convener, which meant I helped organise the coaching and arrange games.

“I started volunteering because of my cricket coach from Dumfries. He would make sure that we had games and gave up a lot of his free time to give us that opportunity. I wanted to give back to the community and, knowing that when I was a child others gave up their time to help me, I was inspired to volunteer.

“The club helped guide me by sending me on courses and linked me with an experienced coach to help improve my skills. Since moving back, I am looking to get back involved with my old club, to help others like my former coach did.

“If you are thinking about volunteering, you should. You could have a positive impact on someone’s life encouraging them to help others in the future.”

Stephen McCutcheon, another one of our Locality Development Officers, has been volunteering with Stranraer Community Council for nearly four years, starting with resilience efforts during COVID.

Stephen McCutcheon

“I have coordinated community resources, provided essential information, and ensured vulnerable members received necessary help. My main focus has been on supporting community projects to enhance the wellbeing of residents through community council funding.

“I volunteer because I believe in the power of community and wanted to give back to the place that supported me growing up. It has strengthened my connection with my community and is personally rewarding. I have met wonderful people, developed lasting friendships, and gained valuable skills like project management and communication. The sense of fulfilment and purpose from making a difference is great.

“I urge everyone to take the plunge. The impact you will have on your community is invaluable, and the personal rewards are huge, from meeting new people to gaining new skills and the joy of giving back.”

Katia Mackley, our new Volunteer for Employment Development Officer, is a Brownies Unit Helper.

Katia Mackley

She said: “I volunteer with Girlguiding once a week. As part of my role, I help plan and run activities and games for girls aged seven to 10. We aim to keep everything we do engaging and fun to make sure the girls have a good time and go back home with a smile. I also make sure to hold space for the girls to talk about whatever is on their mind. This often leads to very random conversations, and means that no two evenings are the same.

“As I moved to the area just over six months ago, volunteering has given me the opportunity to get involved in my local community and meet new people. It’s also been a way for me to step out of my comfort zone and build my confidence. No matter what stage of life you’re in, I believe that everyone has something to gain from volunteering.”

Niomi Nichol is our Lead for Community Health and Wellbeing and is a volunteer director of Dumfries Show Food Festival.

She said: “Until the beginning of this year, I was also the convenor for the Festival and have volunteered for community groups with a focus on local food and drink for several years. I believe in supporting local producers (having been one myself until 2016) and increasing the public’s knowledge of local food and drink.

“Volunteering, for me, meant that I met an entire community of people I would never have engaged with otherwise and developed my event management and planning skills. I felt like I was contributing to something important to me and set an example to my children that contributing to our communities is important, so I’ve been proud to volunter alongside them for the last six years.”

Nadine Coltart is our Business Support Officer and is the chair of Upper Nithsdale Netball Club.

She said: “I co-ordinate the training sessions each week and organise games between local clubs, which I also participate in. I ensure our members are regularly updated with any information and I also chair our committee meetings.

Nadine Coltart

“I volunteer as I felt our community was lacking a netball club. I have seen individuals of a variety of ages and abilities go from never playing before to displaying high levels of fitness and skill every week.

“The benefits of volunteering for me are the social aspect, the new people I have met, and the skills I have improved on, such as communication and organisational, which have benefitted me out with my role at the club.

“I would encourage anyone to consider volunteering with a group or organisation, especially if it is related to a sport or hobby you love taking part in anyway.”