Charity is part of the fabric of Scotland
Scotland's charities make a huge contribution to our society by providing services and assistance to the people who need them most, and Trustees' Week is, quite rightly, a celebration of the hard work and commitment that goes into running the charity sector. Charities make a huge contribution to Scottish life, and thousands of folk across the country are giving their time, commitment and skills, to their local communities and beyond, to make a real difference.
That's clear to me every day, not just as a Minister, but in my work as a constituency MSP. Last Friday, immediately prior to Trustees' Week, I was in Blairgowrie helping out at a local charity shop. I joined the team behind the counter - and in the stock room! - at Barnardo's in Allan Street as part of Make a Difference Day 2013. It was a real privilege to be volunteering again and helping out with raising sales for a great cause - and getting the message across that volunteering and charity work not only contributes to the community, but is a great way to develop new skills and gain experience.
And that's a key point to make during Trustees' Week - it's not just communities and those receiving support who benefit, but those volunteering and running the charities get a real sense of achievement and new experience. That's evident in the comments of the trustees featuring in the videos on the charity regulator's website.
There are an estimated 180,000 trustees running the country's 23,500 charities and making a valued contribution to the life of our country. Trustees' Week is an opportunity for all of us - not just those in the sector - to mark the work and commitment of the folk who run charities. People from all walks of life, young and old and with a diverse range of backgrounds, skills and experience. But what unites them all is that dedication to improving the lives of others and contributing to a better society. Becoming a trustee is an excellent way of getting involved and playing a vital role in such organisations and their work - so I encourage anyone who wants a real sense of achievement to get involved in running a charity.
What's clear to me - whether it's in Blairgowrie or anywhere else in the country - is the enthusiasm and community spirit of those taking part. So, if you're thinking about whether to become a trustee, take that step - find out more from the organisations taking part in Trustees' Week , or a local Third Sector Interface, or find a local charity in your area from the Scottish Charity Register. And let's all do what we can to contribute to the vibrancy, diversity and success of the charity sector in Scotland.