The volunteering experience’s of the CLD team at Education Scotland

As part of Volunteers Week 2021 some of the members of the team have told us about their volunteering experience and how it has helped them on their CLD journey. Some of our colleagues from the CLD Standards Council joined in too!

Dehra Macdonald, CLD Officer, South West 

“Like many of my CLD colleagues, my introduction to the sector was through volunteering. I began my volunteering journey with Lead Scotland. Initially it involved working one to one with Adult Learners, for just one hour per week. I’m still amazed at how much you can achieve with just one hour per week. Small volunteering inputs have big impacts! LEAD Scotland have a fantastic volunteer support and development programme. A local PDA ITALL (now PDA SALL) course was one of the many development opportunities they provided. From here, I quickly developed a passion for Adult Literacies which led to further training, qualifications and a radical career change. My colleagues in ES will never believe my background is in Global Technology! Volunteering can be life changing for all involved, I can’t recommend it enough!”

Susan Epsworth, CLD Officer, Tayside

“Like many of my CLD colleagues I got into the profession through volunteering. Through a personal connection I started volunteering with a local Headway group when I was 18. Headway is a national organisation that supports individuals and families affected by brain injury. This led me to become a tutor with a local adult learning group for adults with aphasia in Dundee. I’ve also volunteered with a Dundee charity supporting children with disabilities and their families, and more recently been involved in a programme mentoring young people. I couldn’t believe when I found out I could study CLD and actually do it as a career! Volunteering really can be life changing, it won’t always lead to a change in career but I can guarantee it will be fun, satisfying and you won’t regret it!”

Julie Beckett, CLD Officer, Forth Valley & West Lothian

“I started my post with Education Scotland in October 2020 following ten years of working in CLD, school based roles. Not that I knew it at the time but my CLD career started with volunteering at a local youth club when I was around 15 years old. I then went on to complete my Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, which involved a number of volunteering opportunities including working in Oxfam and having a regular show on my local Hospital radio station. Personally I have gained so much from volunteering and I would recommend it to everyone!”

Laura Starkey, CLD Officer, North

“My introduction to the CLD sector was through volunteering. I began my volunteering journey with Glasgow City Council doing the pilot ITALL course (yes, that long ago!) then volunteering with learners in Govanhill. I loved supporting the learners to improve their reading and writing and it motivated me to leave my job in financial services and get a full time adult literacies post in North Lanarkshire. It has led to an amazing career covering all aspects of adult learning, such as community based, ESOL, literacies and family learning. I have volunteered for my children’s school raising approx £20k for playground improvements and also volunteered for Cub Scouts for 18 months taking 18 boys to a cub camp with 300 other cubs! Then I turned to Girlguiding as a Guide Leader in my local area which I’ve done for 3 years (zooming through lockdowns!). I love promoting the outdoors, female voices, STEM and Health/Wellbeing for the young people involved. I love volunteering – even on the wet nights! It gives you such a buzz, improves your confidence, wellbeing and involvement in the community – Get involved – it is life changing!”

Maggie Paterson, CLDSC

My name is Maggie Paterson and volunteering has
always been part of my life whether picking up litter,
cooking food for destitute asylum seekers or being a
COP 26 Volunteer Ambassador. When working in CLD in Inverclyde, I was so impressed by the impact of the CLD Volunteers there that when I retired I volunteered with the CLD Standards Council to help
develop support and guidance for CLD volunteers and the
organisations that deploy them.

Kirsty Gemmell, CLDSC

My name is Kirsty Gemmell and I’m a proud volunteer!
I’ve volunteered in one way or another most of my life beginning
as a teenager when I helped out at the local Riding for the Disabled
group. Currently, I have a few volunteering roles, including Trustee
at Lead Scotland and support group coordinator for people living
with a terminal neurological disease. Four years ago, I returned to my home-town; the town of my childhood and the town of my past. It felt like a bit of a backwards step—did I really want to live here again? During the last year, I volunteered locally as part of a Coronavirus Community Support Group and joined the committee of the community action group. I’ve reconnected with my community. It’s no longer my past, it’s my future. Through the power of volunteers our communities become inviting, inclusive and inspiring; now that’s a place I want to live!

Nicola Sykes, CLD Senior Education Officer, South West

Hi, my name is Nicola Sykes, and I’m a Senior Education Officer with Education Scotland. I count myself fortunate for the volunteering   opportunities I’ve experienced over the years. One of my earliest memories was as a student—when I volunteered with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency to digitise over 20 river basin       education packs!  I’ve also enjoyed volunteering as a Trustee with a number of local charities including a Community Garden, Housing Aid Centre, and Community Childcare provider.  As a parent I’ve volunteered my face painting skills at my daughters school fundraising events—with tigers a firm favourite!  I also gained new skills as a Community Sports Leader, and with my husband ran Friday evening sessions for young people at the local MUGA.  There are so many positive benefits to be gained from volunteering, so if you haven’t yet had the opportunity, I would encourage you to give it a go.



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