By Amanda Eleftheriades, Editor
In a recent interview about Clydesider I was asked: ‘What are you most proud of?’
I didn’t have to think twice – without a doubt it’s our volunteers.
They are the most inspirational, interesting, and resourceful bunch of people I’ve had the pleasure to work with.
From the start I wanted Clydesider to be something anyone in the community would be comfortable joining.
And I’m delighted to report, this is exactly what happened.
Our volunteers come from all walks of life, bringing a wealth of experiences and knowledge relevant to our community.
Most also have a host of hidden talents, but little or no opportunity to share them.
The one thing they all have in common is they care.
They care about our community, and they care about each other.
This quality is too often trained out of journalists, with so-called ‘objectivity’ and competitiveness being prized above all else.
All our volunteers are local.
Many also face a range of life challenges common in an area like West Dunbartonshire.
This creates a natural empathy and understanding which no journalist, no matter how well-meaning or well-trained, can learn.
It was our regular volunteers who chose this year’s theme of Access for All.
Most have a disability, and/or face chronic mental/physical health challenges.
They wanted to highlight issues impacting many in our community while raising awareness of the support available.
Several also volunteered to share their own personal stories which they do with power and dignity.
This not only challenges stigma but also creates trust in the magazine and encourages others to get in touch with a story, a poem, or a photo.
And so, the Clydesider community grows.
For all these reasons – and many more – I have the utmost pride in our volunteers.
I would like to introduce you to some of our current volunteers.
To mention everyone who has helped over the years would probably fill the whole issue.
But every volunteer contributor, distributor, conspirator and ideator, has added to the richness of knowledge and information shared with our community.
Meet Our Regular Volunteers
Charlie Sherry – one of our founder volunteers.
Charlie has taken photos, written articles, helped with advertising and distribution – and in 2017 he even volunteered to be my husband!
“I love how the Clydesider brings a smile to people’s faces when they see it and start reading.
“It’s given a community, that for far too long has been subdued, a new sense of confidence and togetherness.”
Johnny Dale – was also with us from the beginning.
He brings a wealth of knowledge about the natural world learned first-hand on his family croft in the Highlands.
His ability to hear and share the voices of trees and wildlife is awesome and his resilience in a world which lacks an understanding of disability is inspirational.
“I was there at the very first meeting and I am so grateful to Clydesider for allowing me space to express my challenges in life and how I’ve not let these challenges bring me down, I’ve kept going, no matter what.”
Katie Kennedy – one of our longest-serving volunteers.
Katie has contributed photo essays and images for a wide range of features and our front cover plus photographing our community events.
She also helps with distribution and, after attending our media training workshops, is keen to try her hand at writing.
“It’s connected me back to my community and you realise we’re all the same.
“We’re all struggling with different things and society tends to focus on the negative but it’s so much more beneficial to me to look at the positive.
“There are so many people in our community doing amazing things and through Clydesider I feel part of it.”
Steven Hastings – joined us online during the pandemic.
He started by contributing a poem and then a cartoon and is now our regular cartoonist, quiz compiler and shares his perspective from a powered wheelchair to contribute insightful articles to the magazine.
He’s also a top Tik Tok star!
“Clydesider has given me opportunities to do things I might not have normally done.
“I hadn’t written an article before.
“I enjoyed the media training sessions and learned a lot about digital drawing with Susan.
“It was good to write about the Brittle Bone Society that I’m a member of, and it’s good to highlight things about access, disability, and mental health.”
Emily Fraser – got involved after we wrote a feature about her.
She’s an extremely gifted creative who writes prose, poetry, and lyrics, has the most amazing voice and is a talented musician!
She has generously shared most of these talents with us, as well as sharing her struggles with anxiety and mental health to support others facing similar experiences.
“Clydesider has meant a lot to me over the last three years.
“They’ve done a lot to support and encourage me.
“I think it’s a fantastic organisation and it really enriches the local community.”
Patricia – started volunteering with Clydesider after attending our Out and About Creative Café during the pandemic.
Her passion for people’s stories translates into beautiful reflections of the inspirational individuals she meets, so you feel you’re in the room interviewing them with her.
“I could go on about the benefits such as collaboration, confidence building, development of creativity, not to mention the real possibility of making a wee difference in that amazing publication that is Clydesider magazine…
“Nothing is too much trouble for the Clydesider team.”
Mary Irvine – has been involved since Clydesider’s early days.
An author herself, she champions local poets, authors, and storytellers with reviews in the magazine and by organising community events including the Balloch Open Mic and Storytelling for Adults.
“All the events and meetings organised by Clydesider are welcoming and inclusive events for the local community to gather, to talk, to share and to know that the organisers really care.”
Leanne McBride – sneaked over the border from Drumchapel.
She brings with her a powerful insight into the challenges poverty can wreak and the solutions communities can develop when working together.
Peter Robinson – an adopted Son of the Rock, Peter volunteered to help with our deliveries back in 2019 and has helped with most Dumbarton deliveries since.
Earlier this year he joined our volunteer Board of directors bringing with him a passion for his new hometown.
“Finding the Clydesider was a bit of fresh air, focusing on the positive stories in the local area and the positive work people do.
“It has been good to get to know people in the local area.”
Elspeth Crocket – one of our first volunteer Board members.
Elspeth is passionate about the area’s heritage and what she doesn’t know about Dumbarton’s past is probably not worth knowing!
She has contributed to the magazine, volunteered to lead our Dumbarton Walkin Talkin events and is also our Dumbarton East distributor.
Rose Harvie – local community activist and gardening enthusiast.
Rose started contributing the Let’s Grow WD column to the magazine last year and has continued to share inspiration and advice for each season.
James Duncan – local naturalist, photographer, and writer.
Early last year Jim emailed to ask if we would be interested in an article and photos about nuthatches.
I said yes and since then he has kindly emailed in exquisite nature photos and articles for every issue.
We finally met in person for the first time this summer!
How To Volunteer
If you’re curious about volunteering with us there are many ways to get involved.
Our regular volunteers meet fortnightly at our Community Newsroom which currently alternates between Dumbarton and Clydebank.
We also have volunteer contributors who prefer to communicate by email.
While we can’t use everything we receive, we try to find a space either in the magazine or online for content which fits our ethos, theme, and space.
Except for myself, our Board members are all volunteers.
They provide me with support, advice, and a listening ear when I need it.
And don’t forget our volunteer distributors.
Every issue they help deliver 5,500 issues to over 200 shops, cafes, community spaces across West Dunbartonshire!
If you’re interested in finding out more about volunteering with us, drop a quick email to our Volunteer Co-ordinator Jenny Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org