Young people in Scotland are turning to volunteering in their thousands with numbers growing year on year; and as the country marks Volunteers’ Week 2017 (1st to 7th June), VAS is delighted to announce that this is a trend reflected by the Scottish Government’s national youth volunteer initiative, the Saltire Awards.

We are delighted to celebrating a landmark 100,000 certificates awarded to young volunteers across Scotland since its launch five years ago – recognising their volunteering contribution to local communities, charities and good causes. As part of Volunteers’ Week we’re celebrating this achievement – highlighting the important contribution and achievements of young volunteers to communities and society; and recognising the valuable work of TSIs to develop youth volunteering at a local level.

Saltire Awards is the Scottish Government’s national youth volunteer initiative. It aims to help broaden opportunities for 12 to 25-year-olds to volunteer and be recognised for their efforts. Voluntary Action Scotland (VAS) and the network of 32 local Third Sector Interfaces (TSIs) manage the Awards, introduced in 2012 after a Scottish pilot. Since then, it has grown from 14,000 certificates awarded in 2012/13 to 27,000 in 2016/17.

Volunteers Catherine and Rhianna celebrate achieving their Saltire Awards in Stornoway


While celebrating their achievements, the Saltire Awards encourages young people to try out new ideas and record their volunteering experiences, as well as the valuable life skills they gain. Incorporating the principles of Curriculum for Excellence, it helps them become successful learners and far more confident, content and responsible individuals, who go on to become significant contributors to society with greater job prospects.

Angela Constance, Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities said:

“I am delighted that over 100,000 Saltire Awards have now been presented to young people for their remarkable volunteering achievements, which shows their commitment to making a difference.

We should all be very proud of the increase we have seen in our youth volunteering rate. I congratulate not only the volunteers but also the agencies, which are developing youth volunteering opportunities across Scotland.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of our communities and we remain committed to doing all we can to ensure everyone who wants to volunteer can do so.”

Commenting on a growing trend that looks set to continue, Allan Johnstone, Acting Chief Executive, VAS said:

“While volunteering enables young people to contribute to their local communities in ways that are enjoyable, fun and creative, they bring a fresh perspective and enthusiasm, offering valuable solutions to communities and voluntary organisations especially in challenging times.

The substantial benefits that volunteering brings to our country, go way beyond the estimated £2.6 billion it is worth to the Scottish economy. For one, the ethos of support that young people take with them into adult life is a fundamental part of this country’s social fabric. As we celebrate 100,000 certificates during Volunteers’ Week 2017, we are delighted to be able to reward their significant impact on society through the awards.  

“We also want to recognise the valuable input of the TSIs. By continuing their development work at a local level and encouraging sign up to the Saltire Awards, our aim to inspire even more young people to come on board and safeguard the culture of volunteering for generations to come.”

Young people can achieve eight different certificates across four Saltire Awards categories – The Challenge, The Approach, The Ascent and The Summit, each reflecting different stages in their volunteering journey. The nationally recognised certificates are authorised and signed by Scottish Governments Ministers.

Young people don’t volunteer for the recognition or for reward – first and foremost they are interested in giving something back; and their skills, fresh perspectives and enthusiasm is vital to many groups and organisations who rely on volunteers to do important work to benefit society. Importantly volunteering can also bring huge benefits to young people too; enabling them to grow in confidence and to progress as individuals. Read about Aaron’s and Sinead’s volunteering journey’s here.

To take part in the Saltire Awards, young people can sign up here or via their local TSI office.

Read the full press release.