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Volunteering with KSB and loving every minute

A blog post by Anna Ireland

As part of Volunteers Week, we’re delighted to share this wonderful blog from Annie Rodgers who, after initially joining #TeamKSBScot as a volunteer, is now an integral part of the team.

Annie helping with Canal College when the project worked with Dandelion to construct floating gardens at Auchinstarry Marina by Kilsyth.

Like many I found myself at a crossroads regarding my role in the workplace. Having cut my teeth in the world of Hospitality & Retail management roles I had nearly 20 years of experience to pull on. But, after a few personal events that required my full attention, I was in a situation where for once in a long time I needed guidance to navigate this new world of finding that role suitable for me.

I did consider going back to what I knew and did over time pick up a few small jobs here and there. It just wasn’t doing it for me. Those industries had moved on, too, with their own pressures on the high street, mass redundancies and the start of major spending priorities shifting.

I decided to play to my strengths and that was people. Those people were also in the form of the Learning & Employability Service at Stirling Council that was going to become an ongoing relationship, guiding me through the dips in success and be there as the sounding board I needed to navigate any obstacles I have encountered.

Afterwards, those few years of phone calls and talking things through, brain dumping ideas and talking nonsense but coming back to the job in hand I found myself saying yes to a 10-week course held by Keep Scotland Beautiful. Before I knew it I was outdoors in all weathers working alongside people all with their own reasons for being there, learning about Cultural Heritage, Archaeology and the Climate Emergency and loving every minute. 

Little did I know that on the back of saying yes to that course Keep Scotland Beautiful would see potential in me to carry on with their campaigns in a Support Worker role to assist, mentor and deliver content. That was one year ago.

Learning & Employability were there through that process and in conjunction helped to secure a salary for the role for the first six months. They also checked in through appraisals and welfare conversations.  It is never a drop and run service.

My advice to anyone who is offered the services of Learning & Employability is take it. Say yes to the courses, say yes to open days, have faith in the knowledge you already have and if you are open to having someone call you every week then take the calls.  Sometimes, you won’t want to take the call or go to that meeting and that’s fine. Reschedule and do it when you are ready. Learning & Employability are there to guide you, they are not there to tell you how it is so take advantage of the resource. 

Keep Scotland Beautiful have been completely supportive with the process of not only liaising with L&E but also fully supporting my own personal development within the organisation. I, after a significant time, can say that I am heartened by the whole process and the input of all those involved.

Katie O’Donnell, our Communities Manager, added: "At Keep Scotland Beautiful we work with communities to combat climate change, tackle litter and waste, and protect and enhance the places where we live, work and visit.

"Annie joined us as a volunteer on our heritage programme, learning how to record, protect and preserve local heritage sites including Scotland’s 200-year-old canal network. Annie’s previous work in hospitality, particularly her communication skills, proved a key asset in working with the wide range of people on the project.

"From that positive starting point we have been delighted to hold onto Annie, first within our Education and Learning team and now as she works on developing our new heritage engagement project.”

Charlie Lyons, our Heritage Officer, was the one who started Annie on her path to joining #TeamKSBScot.

"I met Annie on an extremely cold January morning,” he said. “I gently encouraged her to enrol in our Heritage focused employability programme Canal College. Annie completed the programme with flying colours, making many new friends and finding her feet along the way.

"Annie naturally supported fellow candidates and threw herself into a wide range of challenging situations from building planters to removing invasive woodland foliage in all sorts of atrocious weather. Annie clearly thrived in the outdoors supporting others to achieve great things and it was clear to me that this is where she belonged.

"She provided one to one support to a volunteer who is registered blind on the following programme which helped her to flourish and become more confident. Annie is now a valued colleague supporting KSB to develop a trail blazing community heritage engagement programme where she will continue to develop through helping others.”

We work every day to take positive action to care for Scotland’s environment. But we can’t do it alone. Help us by becoming one of our amazing volunteers who make our streets, beaches and parks cleaner and safer for people and wildlife.


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