I spoke in a debate in the Commons to recognise and celebrate the fantastic work in communities across Scotland and the UK by charities and volunteers.
I was proud to share with the Commons the wonderful work being done every day across my constituency in North Ayrshire & Arran by tireless and dedicated volunteers such as those in the Beith Community Development Trust, Promoting Kilwinning, Largs Community Gardens, Café Solace in Kilbirnie and Ardrossan run by Recovery at Work, the Scottish Centre for Personal Safety in Ardrossan, The Ayrshire Community Trust, North Ayrshire Cancer Care, The Arran Community and Voluntary Service, CLASP – the Community Led Action Support Group – in Stevenston, the Opportunities in Retirement groups across North Ayrshire, the Ayrshire Hospice Volunteers, the North Ayrshire Food Bank, the RNLI – Royal Naval Lifeboat Institution – Largs, the Whitlees Committee which keeps the Whitlees Community Centre at the heart of its community and all those who work so hard to ensure our towns can enjoy gala days such as the Saltcoats Sea Queen. There are far too many charitable groups and volunteers to mention but each of them improves their community in ways for which we can never fully express or quantify.
North Ayrshire can boast 30% of its adult population carrying out volunteer work – higher than the average for Scotland - contributing in recent years an estimated 4.5milion hours of help and contributing £62million to the local economy.
The future is bright too, as research shows that youth volunteering has grown to 52%, enhancing job prospects, improving and learning skills and increasing confidence.
No wonder volunteers enjoy higher levels of happiness than those who do not and is an effective tool against depression and anxiety and provides opportunities for a wider social circle.
The work our volunteers do, the drive to help others, is woven into the fabric of our towns in North Ayrshire and I was delighted to have the opportunity in this debate to say a big Thank You to all of them.