By Robbie McAvenue, Housing Options Scotland volunteer
“I’ve been volunteering with HOS for over a year now and it’s been a very positive experience. I feel they make good use of my knowledge and skills. The HOS staff are very friendly and treat you just like any other member of the team.”
June 1-7 has seen organisations across Scotland celebrate Volunteers’ Week, a national campaign that honours the fantastic work of volunteers. Volunteers’ Week is a time to step back and reflect on the dedication that our wonderful team of volunteers put into helping clients here at Housing Options Scotland. It is hard to imagine how Housing Options Scotland (HOS) would look without all of their support and the compassionate work they do for clients and members of staff.
Volunteering with Housing Options Scotland comes in all different forms, it really depends on what type of role you would thrive in. For example, our Housing Buddies are a team of volunteers who have prior professional experience in Housing. They use their expertise to take a hands-on approach in supporting some clients. Other important roles include carrying out online research and creating Your Area guides, an ongoing project which you can find here. There are even more ways to get involved which you can read about on our Volunteering Page. HOS also has a helpful YouTube channel which offers explainer videos like this to some of the work we do.
“Volunteering with HOS keeps me aware of how difficult it is for people to deal with letter writing and form filling and reminds me to offer help to people around me. It is easy to assume that people know what you know and feel able to tackle the normal admin of life but that is really not the case.”
Why is volunteering so important at HOS? Julia Bandel, Volunteer & Engagement Assistant, was kind enough to explain when we chatted about volunteer work with HOS:
Since joining HOS in October last year, you’ve probably seen first-hand the impact that volunteering has on clients and the organisation as a whole. What makes this work so important?
“Volunteers enhance everything we do as staff. Obviously our core team of staff cover the essentials like finding homes for people, but once our clients have their homes, it’s nice to have a volunteer by their side to guide them down the path into their new life. If you’ve moved to a new area, it’s much nicer to have a proper introduction by someone that has done research on the area. It’s also important when volunteers help our clients with form filling, which can be tricky for some.”
What types of volunteers does HOS have at the moment?
“Just now, we have our Housing Buddies, people who have worked professionally in housing before but have retired and are really glad they can still apply their knowledge through volunteering with us. We have students of all ages who are looking to do something worth their time during the pandemic, or are interested in housing and want something for their CV. We also have people who are really good at research and are currently helping to make area guides for us to show clients as they are moving homes.”
This past week has been Volunteers’ Week – can you tell us a bit about why this week is so important?
“Volunteer’s week is great. It’s a really nice week to thank our volunteers for the work that they do, although here at HOS, we still thank them the rest of the year! In fact, we had a nice event earlier this year where we sent our volunteers cake and tea as a thank you. Volunteer week is still good though since its on highlights the work volunteers do on a national scale. It shows people how rewarding volunteering is and it might pull in people who want to become volunteers.”
2021 has been the busiest few months HOS has ever seen, with referrals rising 80.6% within a year. With the team constantly growing, HOS needs your support more than ever.
Housing Options Scotland encourages anyone who is interested in volunteering to apply on our website or send a quick email to our Volunteer & Engagement Assistant, Julia Bandel, who you can email at firstname.lastname@example.org.