Stirling vies to be European Volunteering Capital 2020

Stirling will this week go head to head with the Italian city of Padua for the title of European Volunteering Capital 2020.

As part of the bid, Stirling is planning a year-long festival of volunteering and aims to increase the number of local people who volunteer from the current rate of around a third.

Representatives from Volunteer Scotland, Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise and Stirling Council will travel to Brussels on Thursday to make their case to the judging panel, with the winner announced in December.

The bid team have received the support of former council leader and first minister Jack McConnell, and golfer and Stirling University graduate Catriona Matthew.

Golfer Catriona Matthew
Golfer Catriona Matthew

Matthew said: “Having studied in Stirling, I know what a strong community it has, and hopefully we’ll see plenty of volunteers coming forward to support the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles in September 2019.

“Any participation events, no matter what their size, are reliant on volunteers – they are often the unsung heroes.”

Lord McConnell said: “From the town out to the university and across the rural communities, residents of Stirling volunteer at all ages and in all communities.

“Becoming European Capital of Volunteering would recognise all of those considerable efforts across many diverse communities and age groups, but it would also set an ambitious target to increase volunteering and therefore strengthen our communities further.”

Also backing the bid are author and Stirling graduate Alan Bissett, local MP Stephen Kerr and MSP Bruce Crawford.

Aileen Campbell, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, said: “Being declared a candidate city is a wonderful testament to all those volunteers who enrich the lives of our communities.

“It is also an opportunity for us to show the judges that we have the potential to do much more – to inspire volunteers across the continent and encourage even more people to get involved.”

Aarhus in Denmark currently holds the title of European Volunteering Capital, which has previously been won by Barcelona, Lisbon and London.