Twenty thousand roads I went down, down, down…

I was confronted today by a question – ‘Aye you, McNiven! You’re always going on about how great it is to be a volunteer. Why is it so great to volunteer your time?! For free!!!! Eh?! Answer me?!

Well…I was put on the spot… and the only thing I could think to say was that it was through volunteering for stuff that I learned what I wanted to do for a career. I was lucky that I got to do lots of creative stuff on a voluntary basis in my youth – music, theatre and the like and that led me to studying in a creative industry and then on to doing arts in the community. So volunteering guided me.

Later on in life I was asked to volunteer as a non-executive director in a charity – a role that I never expected to be guided into at all – but I can honestly say taking up a non-executive director role helped me so much regards understanding the value of my own skills and also my ability to adapt & learn. As you may be aware UK charity law requires registered charities and community groups to have a Board of Trustees, to ensure that a charity, its staff, volunteers, service users and finances are safe and well managed – and no CPD plan that I’ve undertaken has ever been as challenging or rewarding as joining my first Board of Trustees.

Yes of course becoming a non-executive director is about you helping the organisation you join by bringing your skills to their board table, but what you get in return is a much better understanding of areas of business that you don’t normally operate in as well as an opportunity to widen your network.  And I say again – its challenging – but it’s an experience you wouldn’t want to miss.

And almost as if I planned it I would ask you to note, and tell others if you get a chance, that today Renfrewshire’s voluntary sector has launched a campaign to recruit new trustees to local charities and community groups. Engage Renfrewshire is working with Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, local schools and businesses to encourage people to develop their professional skills by becoming a trustee.

If you would like to hear more about becoming a trustee, and being matched to an organisation that suits your interests and availability, contact

All the best – speak soon.