Scottish Drugs Forum’s commitment to volunteers recognised with national award

As recognition of Scottish Drugs Forum’s provision of support and opportunities for volunteers, the organisation has been awarded a prestigious Investing in Volunteers award.

The accolade, which is seen as a benchmark of quality throughout the UK, is presented to organisations that carry out best practice in regards to the management of volunteers.

SDF has a long and proud history of working with volunteers who have a history of problem substance use through various activity including our pioneering peer-research projects.  Within these projects -currently operating in Tayside, Fife, East Dunbartonshire and East Ayrshire – volunteers are trained in research and interview skills to become peer researchers and are supported to carry out research studies within their local area.

In recent years, there has been welcome recognition of the work carried out by SDF’s skilled volunteers and as a result there has been an increase in demand for their services. In 2017 SDF sought to increase our volunteering capacity through the recruitment of a National Volunteer Coordinator who helped standardise volunteer processes so as to provide the best possible experience for our volunteers.

The award was presented at SDF’s annual national volunteer gathering, which took place in Glasgow on the 13th of December to commemorate International Volunteers Day.

Speaking to volunteers at the event, SDF’s CEO Dave Liddell said:

“There is no doubt of the contribution that volunteers make to SDF’s work. The responses they have gathered from individuals have informed much of our research findings – many of which have had a direct impact on policy in Scotland.

“This work however could not take place without the support of local funders in each of the areas and therefore we thank them for their continued faith in the projects and for allowing us to provide these potentially life-changing opportunities.”

The award considers nine key indicators of excellence in volunteering which include the organisation being aware of the need for volunteer recognition, protecting volunteers from harm and clear procedures for introducing volunteers into their roles and integrating them into the team.

Emma Hamilton, SDF’s Head of Inclusion and Peer Engagement stated upon receiving the award:

“We are delighted to have been recognised by Investing in Volunteers for the management and support of volunteers. For many, volunteering will be the next step in their recovery from problem drug or alcohol use and it is our duty to ensure that they feel supported throughout this process.

“Our volunteers continue to impress with the quality of their work output, commitment and dedication to their roles and therefore, it is right that SDF strives to equal this commitment through investment in our procedures.”

A stage of the Investing in Volunteers process was gaining testaments from current volunteers. One of the participants stated: “Look at me, I’m actually delivering rehabilitation training in the prison where I was once an inmate!” with another sharing their thoughts on attitudes towards them: “people actually listen to me now. I do trauma training for the police”.

SDF will retain the Investing in Volunteers award for three years, at which point the processes to recruit and support volunteers will be reviewed to ensure high standards are maintained.

Click here to view photos taken at the SDF Volunteer Gathering