It’s time to #BigVolunteer

As part of our #Big Volunteer focus we have been looking at the vital support volunteers provide across the UK. Today Erika Copland senior co-ordinator at Home-Start Orkney tells about the difference a volunteer can make.

“We help families across Orkney to deal with challenges and uncertainty by linking them up with volunteer befrienders offering support and friendly ear to help them through everyday ups and downs. It sounds simple when you say it like that.

smiley boy
Smiley boy enjoying a drop-in session at Home Start Orkney

“While we live in the remotest part of the country, parents and children here face many of the same issues that families everywhere recognise; from relationship difficulties or breakdown, family separation, financial hardship to dealing with being a lone parent and parenting children with additional support needs.

“Our volunteers are often the extended family that perhaps is no longer around or the extra person to listen and talk to who makes all the difference. Sometimes their presence means that joy and laughter are brought back to a family where they have been missing for a long time.

“Our service is very much one parent supporting another with a relationship which is managed behind the scenes by the Home Start team. It is the volunteer who makes the real difference to a family’s life – it can’t be under-estimated the difference two to three hours each week can make to parents and their children.

swinging child-1
Fun through friendship at Home Start Orkney

“Without our volunteers though we couldn’t exist. Our board of trustees is all volunteers as well as our befrienders. We have a mix of ages from mid 30s to late 70s and we’re able to operate not just on the mainland but, thanks to Big Lottery funding, also across all of the outlying Orkney Isles.

“It’s a two way street, the volunteers offer as much of their time as they can but they tell us that it’s their way of putting something back into the community. For anybody who has struggled when their children were younger, who remembers how difficult parenting can be at times, then you have the qualities we look for in our volunteers – it is a very rewarding thing to do.”

In 2015 Home Start Orkney was awarded over £280,000 over five years from Big Lottery Fund, Scotland to expand their service across all Orkney’s islands.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, or wish to know more about the service, please contact Erika, Sandra or Elsie on 01856 870770 or email:

We also have other Scotland #BigVolunteer opportunities:

We’d love to hear your new volunteer stories, share them with us on Twitter or Facebook using #BigVolunteer

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