Glasgow Life staff play their part to support city’s frontline heroes during national Volunteers’ Week

Glasgow Life staff play their part to support city’s frontline heroes during national Volunteers’ Week

Glasgow Life staff play their part to support city’s frontline heroes during national Volunteers’ Week

Poetry and kindness have flourished during lockdown and Glasgow Life staff have excelled at both.

One of our museum technicians has composed a moving poem about the coronavirus crisis. Reflecting on the fear and loneliness felt by many during this time, our unassuming poet, who asked not to be named, also finds hope in the heroism of frontline workers and applauds the everyday selflessness of simply staying at home.

The poem, ‘Where is the hope?’ shown below, celebrates “the kindness of strangers”. That same spirit has led many Glasgow Life employees to volunteer their time to support key frontline workers and local communities while our sports clubs, museums and other venues remain temporarily closed.

When the lockdown began in March, Riverside Museum gallery assistant Elizabeth Devine decided to put her sewing skills to good use and has been volunteering with NHS Scotland to make gowns for GPs.

“I was looking for something to do while not at work and thought I could help with the crisis around personal protective equipment (PPE) for the NHS,” she said. “I’m a qualified dressmaker and seamstress so I registered to join NHS Scotland’s For the Love of Gowns appeal, making gowns and scrub bags for GPs.

“As well as sewing the gowns, I help coordinate the volunteers, making sure they all have enough fabric and arranging for pick-up and delivery of the finished gowns. We mostly use linen that has been donated by family and friends and some fabric suppliers. Every volunteer is given guidance on staying safe and all the fabric is boil-washed when received, and boil-washed again once completed, before being ironed and packaged for delivery.” 

Sports development officer Libby Hamilton is another Glasgow Life employee who is using her needlework skills; stitching face masks for south-side charity, Angelic Threads. 

The charity provides free masks to anyone in the community that asks for them and they’re all made by volunteers like myself,” explained Libby. “I love to sew and wanted to help out. Each mask can take over an hour, plus prep time, but I’m getting quicker at it and my goal is to make about 14 each week.”

Joyce MacDonald, assistant manager of Glasgow Club Bellahouston, has been volunteering with the British Red Cross through Glasgow Life’s Employer Supported Volunteering programme. She said: “With Bellahouston closed at the moment, I decided to apply for a role with the British Red Cross. 

“I’ve been volunteering as a call handler and helping to coordinate things like food pack deliveries, toiletries, gas and electric payments for vulnerable people. It’s been humbling to hear some of the background stories of those using the service. The British Red Cross helps hundreds of people every day and it feels good to know that I’m playing a small part in that.

“Volunteering has helped me to feel a little bit more normal during these challenging times. I would say to anyone who’s thinking about it to go for it; you really won’t regret it.” 

Those views were echoed by Libby, who added: “Volunteering comes in many shapes and forms and doing the tiniest thing, like getting milk for your next door neighbour, can make such a difference to that person’s life. Small acts of kindness go a long way.” 

This week (1-7 June) marks national Volunteers’ Week and it’s a time to say thank you for the fantastic contribution that volunteers make in all walks of life. Throughout the week, hundreds of virtual events and celebrations have been taking place recognising the invaluable and diverse roles of volunteers across the country. 

As one of Scotland’s largest charities, Glasgow Life is a major provider of volunteering opportunities. To mark Volunteers’ Week, chief executive Bridget McConnell paid tribute to the 700 volunteers who have collectively given 45,000 hours of their time over the past 12 months to supporting Glasgow Life in its delivery of a variety of much-loved services and events to the people of Glasgow.

Bridget said: “People from all walks of life have given their time in libraries, community centres, museums, sports centres and music venues to support over 50 different types of volunteering roles offered by Glasgow Life over the past year. 

“These include leading tours, helping people into exercise, teaching the use of digital devices or supporting the successful delivery of high-profile events such as Celtic Connections and the European Swimming Championships. I want to sincerely thank you all for your generosity, energy and enthusiasm.”

A poetic tribute to the kindness of strangers

Where is the hope?

When the tunnel seems endless, the dim light so faint

When forced to stay indoors, without complaint


Where is the hope?

When all around us it lurks, poised, waiting to strike

When the lockdown continues, for fear of a spike


Where is the hope?

When people are dying, daily quotas increasing

When a proud generations number, are rapidly decreasing


Where is the hope?

When the PPE is scarce but in such high demand

When politicians make promises, with their heads in the sand


Where is the hope?

When our heroes suffer and are slowly wiped out

When their pleas are ignored, despite the united shout


Where is the hope?

When businesses close, it’s a worldwide theme

When employees struggle, on the furlough scheme


Where is the hope?

When families and friends, are separated in isolation

When virtual communication, their only consolation


Where is the hope?

When retail therapy lacks fun and is now such a chore

When having to queue, in gaps of two metres or more


Where is the hope?

When holding hands or a cuddle, are frowned on for instance

When signs of affection, are now expressed from a distance


We will find hope.

In the kindness of strangers and their selfless deeds

In this time of uncertainty, as society bleeds


We will find hope.

In the knowledge that staying home, has purpose and meaning

In the daily blogs, which are live and now streaming


We will find hope.

In the strength and commitment, of our front line workers

In their will to succeed, despite social distancing markers


We will find hope.

In our everyday heroes, positively charged like an atom

In new found stars, the bakers, the trainers and old Captain Tom


We will find hope.

In testing, tracing and infection mapping

In community rejoicing and Thursday night clapping


We will find hope.

In our new awareness of nature, with its beauty and sounds

In parks that surround us and our own garden grounds


We will find hope.

In trying to help, in our own little way

In embracing new challenges and enjoying each day


We will find hope.

In the knowledge, of which I am sure

In record time, we will have discovered a cure


We will find hope.

In those we love, unconditional and so dearly

In them we will find meaning, with love, expressed so clearly