UHI Shetland - Open the door to your future
Tuesday 18 June 2024
 8.1°C   NNW Gentle Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Community / Is ‘volunteer fatigue’ becoming a problem in Shetland?

“THE CAPACITY of the community to take on the increasing range of volunteering roles is reaching saturation point. Volunteer fatigue is very real.”

That was the message in a recent council meeting report, which highlighted that Shetland is suffering when it comes to people’s ability to take on volunteering roles.

Shetland is well known for its volunteering, from becoming trustees and board members to helping out at community events and local halls, with people often taking on responsibilities on top of jobs or caring.

But it appears that some volunteers have not returned post-Covid – creating extra challenges for the local volunteering scene.

At Monday’s SIC education and families committee meeting, ex-Voluntary Action Shetland (VAS) chief and current councillor Catherine Hughson said there is a lot of legislation these days around volunteering.

“You can’t just drop into a playgroup, you can’t just drop into a youth club,” she said.

“I think although we think it’s an easy thing to do, sometimes it’s not.”

But she said Shetland has always “punched above its weight” when it comes to volunteering.

“I think we have to pay a huge pat on the back to everybody involved.”

The report to councillors said that volunteers were already under “significant strain when the cost of living crisis hit, leading to volunteer shortages in many groups, with smaller organisations often disproportionately affected”.

“Combined with caring responsibilities, the need to take on additional jobs to supplement income, anecdotal evidence on the ground suggests that we are in a changing landscape,” it added.

There have often been cases of groups and organisations in Shetland being on the cusp of having to call it quits due to a lack of committee members. Most recently some youth clubs have reported difficulties.

Speaking to Shetland News, current VAS executive officer Lynn Tulloch said the organisation was well aware of the ongoing challenges.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


VAS is a charitable company which support voluntary services by “meeting present and emerging needs, developing and promoting new ways of responding and encouraging people in Shetland to offer voluntary service to their community”.

The volunteers at this year’s Saltire awards ceremony. Photo: Dave Donaldson

“In Shetland we have a really good level of volunteering occurring in our community one of the highest in Scotland, with many people in the community engaging in a number of volunteering roles to ensure activity happens,” Tulloch said.

“However, Covid has impacted on this with a number of charities struggling to attract new people to come forward.

“Demands for services delivered in the charity sector have increased also which results in waiting lists.”

Tulloch, however, said VAS has had “really great engagement” with its Saltire event this year in June.

This celebrates young people, aged 12 to 25, getting involved in volunteering – with activity almost back to pre-Covid numbers.

“I am aware the cost of living is a factor in amongst this with people perhaps having to take on additional work to support themselves and families and also if there are caring responsibilities also – volunteering sometimes is just not an option for people at certain times in their lives,” Tulloch said.

Meanwhile VAS currently has board vacancies and is looking for new board members.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.