Welcome to June, and welcome to Volunteers' Week! Volunteers' Week runs every year from 1-7 June and celebrates all the millions of volunteers across the UK. Run by NCVO and Volunteer Scotland, the week aims to showcase volunteering opportunities, offer awards to recognise exceptional volunteers and launch new volunteering campaigns, amongst others. Volunteers Week is also an important date for Changeworks.

Volunteers are a part of the team here at Changeworks, bringing their strengths to projects such as the Waste Wise Volunteers and Heat Heroes. Changeworks volunteers come from an incredible range of backgrounds, from recent graduates to retired professionals. They get out on door steps advising householders on how best to recycle and reduce waste; they talk to vulnerable families at risk of fuel poverty on saving money from their energy bills; and help run reuse and upcycling workshops for students in Edinburgh, amongst other things!

We work hard to make sure that being a volunteer with Changeworks is a rewarding experience. In 2016 Changeworks was successful in achieving re-accreditation for the third time with Investors in Volunteers. This means that Changeworks is considered an exceptional organisation to volunteer for. We work on a very flexible basis providing volunteers with the opportunity to take part in activities they’re interested in and to contribute what time they can commit. They have an allocated volunteer coordinator who provides full training on our campaigns, an induction period and all the resources they might need to ensure they get the most from the role. We also run networking events, volunteer socials and provide gift vouchers to reward their time contributed.

We caught up with one of our volunteers, Ruslana, who is both a valued Heat Hero and a Waste Wise Volunteer. She has been a Changeworks volunteer for eight months and recently received an Inspiring Volunteer Individual Award! 

Hi Ruslana, what do you do as a volunteer?

Changeworks' volunteer RuslanaI provide basic energy efficiency advice for people aged 50 or over and young families. I engage face to face at the events and workshops with householders in Granton and Edinburgh students helping them waste less, recycle more and save money. Where necessary I refer more specialist issues back to Changeworks for more in-depth advice.

Tell us about a recent activity you were involved in as a Changeworks volunteer?

I went door stepping at Wardieburn. I interviewed householders on their waste and recycling habits on their doorstep. I supplied them with the right bins, stickers, bin liners and informative leaflets such as waste collection yearly calendar, furniture re-use service, etc. I also received feedback on waste collection services. I enjoyed interacting with people, mentioning the benefits of recycling and supporting and promoting small improvements. 

What do you like most about volunteering with Changeworks?

The spirit of the creation of a more sustainable world. I have wonderful project coordinators who inspire and support me to be a part of a better future. I am glad to volunteer at an organisation who is concerned with vulnerable people and who teaches the society to contribute as much as possible to our local communities. 

What piece of advice would you give to anyone thinking about volunteering?

Throughout volunteering I receive a lot of training that supported me during home visits and events. In addition, I regularly obtain feedback on my performance leaving room for progression. If one has a positive attitude and a real passion towards the projects then volunteering becomes extremely enjoyable.  

What’s the most valuable think you’ve learned from your volunteering experiences with Changeworks?

Consistency and professionalism.

Which of the Changeworks organisational values (passion, integrity, innovation, collaboration and empowerment) do you most identify with and why?

Passion and collaboration. Changeworks and myself work together in order to find practical solutions to fuel poverty and waste for the better living of people, creating habits that would sustain the world in the long run.

Changeworks delivers a number of projects to provide improved support and engagement to the general public on waste reduction and energy saving. If you are interested in volunteering with us, or would like more information on the volunteer roles we have available, please get in touch.