Volunteers’ Week 2024

Blog by Lindsay, single parent, carer and volunteer.


It’s Volunteers’ week 2024, and for me, it’s a week worth celebrating. It may not mean much to everyone, but for the past few years, I’ve celebrated, encouraged, and advocated for volunteering as it has truly changed my life and helped me find parts of my individual identity again while being a single parent.

My path into volunteering was inspired by the support I received from One Parent Families Scotland. They had been working with me for a few months, and when they asked if any parents would be willing to share their lived experiences for a research project called “Living Without a Lifeline,” I jumped at the chance to help. I saw it as a way to give back to them for all the care, comfort and support they had given to me over the months. It was my first step into the world of volunteering but would most definitely not be my last. I shared my own experiences for the report and even attended and helped present during the public release event.

It was exhilarating to stand up and advocate for the incredible work they were doing in supporting single parents, and although it was a bit overwhelming at first it was amazing to be a part of it all.

Little did I know, it was just the beginning of a new path for me. That one opportunity opened doors to many more. I have had the chance to volunteer and advocate for other amazing organisations like Carer’s Scotland, Save The Children, Oxfam Scotland, and the Scotland That Cares Campaign. I have also been actively taking classes with Parent Network Scotland in hopes of helping support or facilitate community hubs with them in the future. These projects have taken me all over the country, allowed me to meet an extraordinarily diverse community of people, and expanded my knowledge incredibly. Eventually, all these opportunities led to me being asked to join a new project called The Empowering Women’s Panel which is a great initiative that has been created to aid the National Advisory Council on Women and Girls (NAWCG) in their research and work they do on behalf of the Scottish Government.

Being surrounded by some of the most influential decision makers from all over the country, as a single parent carer from Glasgow East End, made me feel like I was living in a completely different world. It was an eye-opening experience that felt both unreal and empowering at the same time.

As truly amazing as all the big opportunities have been, they’ve also shown me that every volunteering role, no matter how big or small, is significant and can truly make a huge impact. Whether it’s advocating for intersectionality, equality and inclusivity with the NACWG and Scottish government officials or helping to organise and help build a junior rugby team in your local community, every role matters.

My work with Glasgow East Juniors Rugby Club is just as special to me, if not more so, than any other volunteering roles I do. It’s all about the kids I’ve come to know and adore, the community support and encouragement from all the adults involved, and the satisfaction of seeing your efforts make a difference in real time and encourage growth and change in your local community. Creating connections and leaving a positive impact on others, especially children, is something I have always strived for. Being a positive role model while offering or being a safe place of empathy, comfort, and encouragement for a child can contribute in a small way to the adults they could possibly become one day. Your time and attention could have a lasting effect and be a fond memory they carry with them always.

Knowing that your presence could have that type of effect is one the most exciting parts to volunteering. It’s incredible to see the impact that you can have on others, be it introducing new ideas or validating someone’s experiences, it’s a rewarding feeling to know that you’ve made a difference, even if it’s only in a small way. But for me, the most exciting part of it all is when I am able to include my son, Nathan 15, in the journey too. He’s had the chance to attend events and meet people he wouldn’t have otherwise, which has been eye-opening for him to observe and learn from such a wonderfully diverse group of people. He’s also been able to see my personal growth and the ups, downs, triumphs and disappointments that have been in my volunteering journey. I hope that in seeing me fight, learn and grow as I have, that it gives him confidence in knowing that he has can to do the same and reach for goals he might have never thought were possible. It’s truly amazing to have his support, to see the pride that he has in me being his mum and to watch him be inspired to pursue his own path no matter the fight it might take to get there. It’s a lesson that holds great significance because despite the wonderful opportunities, there have been challenges along the way.

As a single parent, finding a small window of time for ourselves can be difficult, let alone anything else. I’ve had to carefully consider how much of myself I’m willing to invest in each opportunity, recognising when I need a break and honestly admitting when I lack knowledge or enthusiasm for a project.

I’ve learned to challenge myself to become more informed, to manage my time effectively and confidently decline when I can’t commit. I also take the time to enjoy the differences in each role I take on. Getting to involve or invite Nathan in certain activities has been incredibly beneficial, and the organisations I collaborate with are willing to make accommodations to ensure everyone who wants to take part absolutely can. They offer multiple options such as face-to-face meetings, video calls, or even communication through emails, WhatsApp, or text messages, allowing me to stay connected and involved. Every project I’ve been involved in has made an effort to meet me where I’m available and support me in achieving my goals.

Being involved in various campaigns, events, and new communities has truly transformed my life. Not only has it opened up new career opportunities for me, but it has also helped me overcome the loneliness and isolation I felt at times as a single parent. I have discovered a diverse community, a strong support system, and genuine friendships that have brought so much joy, connection, understanding and happiness into my life.

While I adore my son and forever cherish being his mum, it has been so validating to be recognised and acknowledged as an individual beyond just being a mother, a single parent or a carer. It’s empowering to know that I am creating my own space in the world, being seen and accepted for everything I am as well as what I’m not while making a difference and playing a small role in other people’s journey. It’s empowering to use my voice and know that when I do, people sit up and listen. I celebrate the effort, hard work and determination of volunteers and hope that in reading this you can find a new appreciation for them too.

I hope this can help encourage you all to challenge yourself and try new things like volunteering because they just may change your life.