Whether you're looking for volunteers to be part of your community group or project, need help with volunteer coordination or are looking for a volunteering opportunity, your local Third Sector Interface can help!

The Third Sector Interface (TSI) Network is made up of 32 organisations based across Scotland, each of which provides support, learning and development opportunities for third sector and voluntary-led organisations, as well as support for people looking to volunteer.

Some TSIs are individual bodies and some are partnerships, made up of two or more organisations - in Edinburgh, for example, the TSI is a partnership between Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations' Council, Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network and Volunteer Edinburgh.

Each TSI operates in a way that reflects the needs and circumstance of the third sector in their area, and all are members of Voluntary Action Scotland - a Scotland-wide charity that regularly brings TSIs together to collaborate and champion the local third sector.

We catch up with Paul Wilson, Chief Officer at Volunteer Edinburgh, to find out what support services they offer to groups and individuals in Edinburgh and further afield:

How does Volunteer Edinburgh support local voluntary groups?
We have an equal commitment to organisations who involve volunteers regardless of size.  We work with the smallest to the biggest and provide a range of support, from recruiting volunteers to managing them, and we are always on hand to offer support and help to anyone, at any stage of their volunteer involvement.  

Do you offer any training or resources to help people that are responsible for recruiting and managing volunteers?
We offer a variety of support services for volunteer managers and volunteer involving organisations. Of course we are available on the phone (0131 225 0630) or via email [email protected] to answer any enquiry about involving volunteers. 

We also run a new online resource: www.volunteerwiki.org.uk which is, as the name suggests, a repository for all good practice involving volunteers.  If you have a question about involving, recruiting or managing volunteers, the answer is probably there! It's completely free to use and we are working with partners around Scotland to add to the knowledge base. There are even example documents that you can use to make involving volunteers as easy as possible. 

In Edinburgh we also offer low-cost training opportunities for volunteer managers - this is suitable for complete beginners as well as those who are more experienced. These courses are popular and modular, meaning you can pick and choose what you want to do. We also keep the cost as low as we possibly can to make them accessible to as many people as possible.

We also run a series of Continuing Professional Development sessions for volunteer managers looking at specific topics - these free sessions are popular with local volunteer managers who want to keep their skills up to date.  As well as the CPD sessions we host a monthly peer support session for volunteer managers, called 'Inspire'. These sessions are driven by the people who attend and tackle a wide range of topics and issues around volunteer involvement, and are very much focused on sharing ideas and knowledge. This is an invaluable way to tap into the skills and experience of others - again this is free to attend and open to all. 

How would a group go about advertising a volunteer opportunity with you? 
Our core service is helping with the recruitment of volunteers. This is an easy two-stage process: the first is to register your organisation with us – this gathers basic information about your organisation and how you involve volunteers. Once that is done then you can advertise as many volunteering opportunities as you like. The easiest way to register and then advertise opportunities is to visit our website www.volunteeredinburgh.org.uk. There is information there to guide you and of course we're at the end of phone if you need specific help. 

Later in 2018 we plan on offering a self-service function via our website - no more forms to download and complete, just an easy and intuitive online process which will give you full control of your volunteer opportunity adverts.  

We do have a minimum standard that we ask organisations registering with us to keep in mind - we ask that you have a recognised structure (this can be unincorporated or incorporated), we also ask that you have a named contact for your volunteers and, crucially, we can only advertise for organisations that do not distribute profits.  We also ask that you insure your volunteers – this is for your protection as much as anything.  If you are at a stage where you are unsure if you do meet our standards the best thing to do is have a conversation with us - we want to help.

Once opportunities are advertised with us they appear on our website (65,000 visitors in 2017) and also on the national www.volunteerscotland.net website. Opportunities are also available to the public dropping into our office – more that 1000 people a year. 

If you are not in Edinburgh then your local Third Sector Interface/Volunteer Centre will be able to help you advertise your opportunities.

What advice would you give to someone that is recruiting volunteers for the first time?
Get in touch with your local Third Sector Interface/ Volunteer Centre, they are the experts and will be more than happy to guide you.  Your starting point should be to consider why your organisation wants to involve volunteers. Ask yourself the following questions:

- Do you have appropriate roles for volunteers to do?
- Do you have the resources to offer support and supervision to volunteers and, if possible, volunteer expenses
- What are the benefits to the volunteers of volunteering with you?
- What are the benefits to your organisation – short and long term?

There is a whole range of support and information for you when starting out, regardless of where you are, at www.volunteerwiki.org.uk   

How can you help someone looking to volunteer?
Any member of the public looking for a creative volunteer opportunity in Edinburgh can either visit our website and look at what is available or come and see us and have a chat – we have volunteering advisors on hand who are expert at guiding people to the right opportunity.  We also have a dedicated service for volunteers who may need a little bit more support to get involved in volunteering.  

How can people keep in touch with Volunteer Edinburgh?
We want people advertising with us, and getting the right volunteers, to be as simple as possible - so get in touch and let us show you how we can help - www.volunteeredinburgh.org.uk/contact-us 

For updates and opportunities you can also sign up to our newsletter, which is aimed at anyone involved with volunteers - www.volunteeredinburgh.org.uk/news 

Useful links and resources -

  • Your local TSI - Visit the Voluntary Action Scotland website to find your local TSI and get in touch to find out how they can support your volunteer activity.
  • Volunteering in the Arts Toolkit - guidance for small to medium-sized arts groups on how to recruit, retain and reward volunteers, created by Voluntary Arts Scotland and Volunteer Scotland. 
  • Micro Volunteering - this Voluntary Arts Briefing explains how creative groups can make the best use of occasional volunteers.
  • Volunteer Scotland - the national centre for volunteering, offering volunteer listings, training, resources and Disclosure services.
  • Volunteer Wiki - an online resource, featuring high quality, reliable information and best-practice guides on how best to manage volunteers.
  • Volunteers Week - a UK-wide campaign that celebrates volunteering. Get involved from 1-7 June each year.

Do you have a creative volunteering opportunity? Let us know about it so we can help you spread the word via the Voluntary Arts Scotland website, enews and social media. See our Creative Volunteering page to submit a volunteering opportunity and see volunteer listings from creative groups, projects and organisations across the country.