Scottish Drugs Forum marks Volunteers’ Week 2023

2023 marks the 39th annual Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June). SDF joins thousands of organisations recognising the contribution volunteers make across the Scotland.  

The contribution of volunteers is often unseen and unrecognised by many, visible only through the incredible impact of their volunteering, so taking the time during Volunteers’ Week to celebrate volunteers’ efforts and all volunteers contribute to our local communities, the voluntary sector and society as a whole has never been more important. 

This Volunteers’ Week we at SDF are celebrating our volunteers, by holding a celebration event on 1st June, by sharing some examples and impacts from their work throughout the year and showcasing examples of people’s journey whilst volunteering. 

SDF has pioneered and developed a peer research approach, developing the capacity of people with lived and living experience of drug and/or alcohol use to undertake research and evaluation work within their communities.  Peer research is a more positive research experience for the participant, removing barriers to participation such as stigma, supporting more open, honest and in-depth responses to the issues facing people and therefore providing a greater level of insight and understanding of people’s experiences of problem substance use and engagement with services.  

The overall aim of our peer research work is to gain an accurate insight into the issues affecting people who use services, their opinions, perceptions and experiences; so that services can be designed, managed and delivered more effectively.  

Katy MacLeod, Research and peer engagement programme manager said “Our volunteers really are the heart of the work we do within the research and peer engagement team. From influencing national policy to improving local services, their impact is significant and wide ranging.  

“In my 10 years at SDF, I have witnessed the peer research approach flourish into a well-respected research method within the field and I thank all of our volunteers over the years in being part of this. It never fails to amaze me…to see the compassion and enthusiasm the volunteers have. It is an absolute joy and privilege to work alongside them.” 

In the last year, peer research volunteers have been trained and been involved in many different aspects of work conducted within the Research and Peer Engagement Team including designing questionnaires, supporting the delivery of focus groups, and participating in face to face and telephone interviews. 

In 2023, volunteers have contributed to research and evaluation work on topics such as: 

  • Medication Assisted Treatment 
  • Quality Principles 
  • Access to residential treatment  
  • Women’s experiences of accessing drug and alcohol services 
  • Experiences of accessing services for alcohol use 
  • Experiences of accessing treatment for co-occurring mental health and substance use problems 
  • Experiences of healthcare in police custody 
  • Family inclusion and family support 

Volunteering Stats During 2023 

  • 34 volunteers contributed their time in the last year 
  • 23 volunteers participated in our peer research induction training programme  
  • 4 volunteers have progressed to undertaking qualifications such as SVQs 
  • 3 volunteers have secured employment 
  • 1 volunteer welcomed a new addition to their family 
  • Volunteers assisted with 13 research and evaluation projects, interviewing 284 people across 13 ADPs and health board areas 
  • 4 volunteers helped inform the police custody healthcare inspection 
  • 2 volunteers reviewed over 80 funding bids with CORRA foundation, with more than 40 of those successfully receiving funding 

SDF would like to say to each and every volunteer – thank you. Thank you for dedicating your time to the many projects in which you have been involved. Your insight, energy and enthusiasm make a real difference to our work. Your company improves SDF as a workplace and it is a been a pleasure to see the experience of volunteering having a positive impact on your lives.  

If you would like to become involved as a peer research volunteer and want to find out more information, please do get in touch.