SCRA – Speaking loud about Volunteers
The Scottish Countryside Rangers’ Association (SCRA) is the professional association uniting the voice of Rangers and associated professionals working in Scotland. And it is run by dedicated volunteers. Without the efforts of the volunteer support of SCRA, we would be unable to arrange training events, support Rangers working in Scotland by working on their behalf in discussions with Government, National Agencies and other NGO’s, organise national gatherings and raise thousands of pounds of sponsorship to support Rangers in other countries, providing vital training and equipment enabling them to carry out their duties. SCRA has just announced the implementation of its Three Year Development Plan, a plan which has valued the volunteer input of SCRA members at more than £50,000 over three years, almost certainly an underestimate.
Last year, SCRA undertook several surveys and gained a comprehensive picture of what it was like to work as a Ranger in Scotland. Unsurprisingly, like many areas of conservation work, Rangers spend a significant amount of time volunteering before they gain employment; in fact, the survey suggested that most Rangers spent more than 6 months, and many more than a year volunteering before they started work as a Ranger.
Bob Reid, a Ranger with North Lanarkshire Council as well as an active member of SCRA Council and former SCRA Chair, has been working on the North Lanarkshire Scramble and Quad bike project. The value of volunteering to the project in the past year has been placed at £70,000 using the Volunteer Impact Assessment kit developed by Volunteer Scotland – a huge value when used as match funding in grant applications. Bob said ‘The challenges presented to us were significant, from persuading parents that their time was of value, and allowing them to realise that they were volunteers, to accessing training and support for our volunteers. Now, we have clear guidelines published on what the club offers volunteers in terms of support and the training we offer helps them to develop skills which they then use in other areas of their lives’. The project was awarded the Queens Award for Voluntary Service in 2007, and the project continues to set an example of best practice for others to follow in Scotland and around the UK.
The dedication, enthusiasm and passion that volunteers demonstrate through work with interests in specific projects, through to giving up their time to ensure that the voice of the Scottish Ranger is heard at all levels, is of immeasurable value and it is vital that the work of volunteers is recognised and supported and, applauded.
For more information please see: www.scra-online.co.uk
First published in CJS Focus on Volunteering in association with The Scottish Countryside Rangers Association and the Countryside Management Association on 18 February 2008