The city of Stirling has pledged to host a year-long ‘Festival of Volunteering’ after narrowly missing out in a contest to be crowned European Volunteering Capital (EVC) 2020.

Stirling Council has announced £50,000 of financial support to progress the initiative after being pipped to the post by the Italian city of Padua in early December.

The spending was agreed last week by Councillors as part of an array of new growth items for the financial year ahead, which also saw the local authority commit to more than £25.5million of capital investment.

More than 140 organisations had pledged their support for the city’s bid, as did the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon alongside the Scottish Government and a number of celebrities.

The strength of Stirling’s submission was reflected in the jury’s positive feedback, with praise for the city’s recognition of volunteers through events like the Provost Awards and SVE’s Inspiring Volunteer Awards.

Despite the disappointment at the final outcome, the Council along with bid partners, Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise (SVE) and Volunteer Scotland, reiterated their commitment to ensuring 2020 is a year-long festival of volunteering.

Increasing volunteering levels to 50 per cent across Stirling is at the heart of this exciting project, bringing the significant benefits of helping others to local people, with the wider aim of inspiring communities across Scotland and beyond to get involved. 

This will continue in the following year (2021) when Stirling plans to host the world’s first ever Volunteering Expo.  

A report will come before a future meeting of the Community Planning and Regeneration Committee, which oversees volunteering in Stirling, detailing the next stage of the city’s volunteering project.

Convener of the Committee, Cllr Chris Kane said: “Approving this funding shows our continuing commitment to volunteering in Stirling and will ensure we deliver something really special in 2020.

 “From working together during this process, the three bid partners have built a very strong relationship and we are all moving forward with a common purpose and a shared vision.

 “The journey to make Stirling a centre of excellence for volunteering is well underway.”

Stirling Council Leader, Scott Farmer added: “Stirling’s involvement in the bid was hugely positive and shone a light on our special volunteering spirit, something we can all be proud of.

“This fresh investment will allow us to build on our remarkable levels of volunteering, with 39 per cent of people giving up their time to help others – more than 10 per cent above the national average in Scotland.

“We are now working hard to unlock the full potential of volunteering in the city, and I’m sure we will rise to that challenge over the coming years.”