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Lord Provost

Vital volunteers

This blog first appeared in the Edinburgh Evening News on Friday 29 July.

Everyone knows that Edinburgh is a city built on seven hills, but as the city’s Volunteer Ambassador I’m also acutely aware that we’re a city built on volunteering.

The job of Volunteering Ambassador is to promote and recognise the role of volunteering in general and that is why I launched the Lord and Lady Provost's Community Garden Party. These individuals and groups deserve the best party we can throw, sponsored once again of course by Virgin Money.

Across Scotland, the value of the volunteering economy is estimated to amount to £2.6 billion. Every year, people in Scotland give up 162 million hours of their time to help others and their communities and in Edinburgh we have 200 Social Enterprises and upwards of 4,000 voluntary organisations doing just that.

By their very nature, volunteers and community workers don’t give their time in the hope of receiving a reward, but every so often it’s nice to be able to recognise the work they do. That is why I’m extremely proud to once again host a Community Garden Party alongside Lady Provost Elaine Brand today for those who do so much for this city.

The reason for hosting this event is simple. The efforts made by these incredible people make an enormous difference to Edinburgh life, and such a significant contribution deserves special attention.

As Edinburgh's Lord Lieutenant, I have been in the front line of the Queen's Awards for Voluntary Service ever since I took up the position in 2012. Her Majesty established them to mark her Golden Jubilee and I strongly believe grassroots voluntary achievements should be recognised. This is the highest award of its kind. It seems like the perfect occasion to present this award at the Garden Party today to one of Edinburgh’s finest community initiatives, the Broomhouse-based BIG Project.

The now annual Community Garden Party event is a homage to voluntary organisations like the BIG Project. They will be joined by charity workers, community champions and inspirational citizens and this year’s party, with over 500 guests, will be the biggest ‘thank you’ yet. Guests will treated to live entertainment from local musicians and dancers and afternoon tea on the lawn. I hope every single guest has an enjoyable time.

Up and down Edinburgh, volunteers and community workers dedicate their time and energy to help others. The social value they provide the city with is priceless. They support our young and old, provide extensive workforce and skills development to those in need, promote participation in civic life and lend support and opportunities to Edinburgh’s disadvantaged.

Where would we be without them? I truly hope today’s celebration goes some way towards thanking some of Edinburgh's most incredible citizens.