VOLUNTEERS from across the Wee County are this week being thanked for their invaluable contributions throughout the pandemic.

The annual Volunteers' Week began yesterday, on June 1, and would normally see an awards ceremony organised by Clackmannanshire Third Sector Interface (CTSI) for the area.

However, a large-scale celebration is not possible, nor does it seem appropriate given the difficulties of the past year, according to CTSI's Louise Orr, team leader for volunteering and routes to work.

She said: "However, now more than ever, our local heroes deserve a #ThankYou.

"This week, using the power of social media platforms, CTSI are spotlighting as many volunteers, and local organisations and groups as possible for their dedication and hard work throughout the past year."

Louise was keen to highlight the power of communities when it comes to supporting one another.

More than 700 people had registered to volunteer in the first few months of lockdown last year, but that is only scratching the surface.

Many people may not recognise themselves as volunteers, explained Louise, but rather they say they were just simply "helping out" their neighbours, families and friends who may have been isolating or shielding.

Louise said: "Volunteering over the past year has been organic, based on need in the community, and, most importantly, that need has been met by others in that community.

"We have had people collecting and dropping off prescriptions, assisting older adults to keep on top of their gardening, walking dogs for those having to self-isolate, or simply picking up the phone to ensure someone has had some human contact that day, week or month.

"Of course, more formal volunteering has also continued, and been vital, for example in recovery services, such as Change Grow Live, or mental health support services such as Wellbeing Scotland."

According to Louise, communities in Clacks have shown "incredible resilience, compassion and dedication, and deserve to be commended for all they have done, and continue to do, whilst often struggling themselves".

This week, CTSI is encouraging everyone to share their story of volunteering on social media and tag the organisation so it can be shared more widely.

Free thank you cards are also available to be sent to volunteers formal and informal, people can email louise.orr@ctsi.org.uk to request one.

Groups can also register to deliver the Saltire Awards for young volunteers and can contact christopher.white@ctsi.org.uk for more details.

For social media, people are encouraged to use the hashtags #VolunteersWeekClacks, #VolunteersWeekScot, #ThankYou and #WeeCountyBigHeroes.