At Macmillan In Scotland we have over 1000 volunteers who dedicate their time and give so selflessly.
So surely the impact is easy to quantify? Not in a traditional sense, where organisations are still focussed on counting things – number of volunteers, number of service users, number of referrals, number of leaflets taken – you can see where this is going. What we are actually measuring is reach.
Impact, you see, is a much more subjective and much more difficult to populate in a spreadsheet or report. How do I demonstrate impact? I prefer to tell the story, and so here is just 1 story all about the impact that Macmillan volunteers have in communities….
Liz was referred into our Helping Matters service by her Clinical Nurse Specialist. She had recent surgery and was struggling to keep on top of her housework. During the assessment, Beth our volunteer told Liz about the support that Shona might be able to offer – light housework, gardening, someone to chat with, taking her on an outing.
On hearing this Liz said that it would be wonderful if Shona could change the sheets on her bed and hoover her upstairs rooms, she’d not been able to do either since her operation. Liz then tentatively asked if Shona might be able to take her out in her car? Beth replied that yes, Shona would be delighted.
Liz’ ask was to go and get an ice cream at her favourite place in town. She’s was over the moon at the prospect of some time out of the house that wasn’t a hospital appointment.
Sadly, Liz died a few weeks later – but the impact of the support she needed at home and in helping her have a quality of life was just priceless.
This is impact. I have another 1000 stories I could tell. What I do know, is the impact was profound, for Liz, for Shona, for me. But wider than this, the whole community has access to volunteers just like Beth and Shona.
Stories like these back up the numbers and bring our work to life. For me, that’s impact.