Edinburgh Leisure celebrates its unsung heroes.

03 June 2024

As the nation celebrates National Volunteer Week (Monday, 3rd – Sunday, 9th June), Edinburgh Leisure will be holding a thank you on Thursday, 6th June at Meadowbank Sports Centre for their unsung heroes and their unwavering commitment and all they do to help create a more active and healthier city.

National Volunteer Week recognises and celebrates the contributions volunteers make across the UK and inspires more people to make a difference.

Stephen Hughes, Volunteer Manager at Edinburgh Leisure explains: “Our volunteers play a vital role in making a difference to people’s lives, providing the help and support people need to be active.

“In the last few years, our volunteers have grown from 120 in 2022-2023 to 140 in 2023-2024. We’ve also expanded the volunteering roles from five to nine and include buddy swimming, walk leaders and Instructor Assistants.”

Teresa, 66, one of Edinburgh Leisure’s volunteers explains why she got involved and her journey from participant to volunteer. She grew up in Edinburgh’s Craigmillar area and has always enjoyed staying active. She used the old Meadowbank Sports Centre (“going back a few years”) for aerobics classes, badminton, and training for the West Highland Way with her sister-in-law.

Teresa was previously a participant in Edinburgh Leisure’s Steady Steps programme, which is a physical activity referral programme for anyone who has had a fall or is at risk of having a fall. After falling and breaking her wrist, she completed half her sessions in person and the rest online when COVID-19 hit. Here she tells us about her journey from participant to volunteer.

“I worked with Scottish Gas for 36 years and as part of my job I supported community initiatives. We had days where we could volunteer, and I used them to support the Royal Blind School. That was when I first became interested in volunteering.

When I finished my Steady Steps classes, my instructor Mari asked me if I would like to become a volunteer. I investigated it and was surprised to find out that Edinburgh Leisure has so many different volunteer roles. I decided to volunteer with Steady Steps and another Active Communities class, Get Active, which encourages inactive people to become and stay active.

“Not only does volunteering help me keep physically fit but it’s also good for my mental wellbeing.  I love the community and camaraderie in classes, getting to know people and learning new things. I like that the participants find me approachable and when they call me by my name it shows they remember me, and I feel valued. The education sessions and the volunteer training days about dementia and visual impairment I’ve taken part in have broadened my knowledge. I get as much out of volunteering as the participants do.

“I would encourage others who are considering volunteering to give it a go as it’s so rewarding. Recently, after my class had finished, a few of us were having a laugh while getting packed up. It was only when we got to the front door of Meadowbank that one of the participants realised she had left her Zimmer frame in the studio. For me this is a good example of how physical activity can improve health, even in older people, and give them confidence to get out and do more”.

No matter which role you undertake as a volunteer at Edinburgh Leisure, training and support is provided. To find out more and get involved, visit: https://www.edinburghleisure.co.uk/work-with-us/become-a-volunteer or contact stephenhughes@edinburghleisure.co.uk

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