Douglas Maxwell introduces the ALLIANCE's ALISS programme 'volunteer crowdsourcing' initiative.

It’s the final day of Volunteers Week Scotland 2017 and the ALISS Programme wanted to go out with a bang! Today we are launching our new approach to volunteering that will enable everyone to volunteer with ALISS – Volunteer Crowdsourcing. Interested?

A day when it all clicked into place…

You know the feeling, you’re wanting to get an idea down onto paper, thinking about it, trying to plan for it, looking to test it, but you just can’t do it. A piece of the jigsaw is missing and no matter how hard you look or think you just can’t find it. Well for a few weeks that’s been me and it wasn’t until the ALLIANCE conference that I found the missing piece in the lived experience of one person.

I met Derek at a session on homelessness and its impact on health and it was his inspirational and articulate words that finally made me see and feel the missing part of my jigsaw. You can, no, in fact, you must hear his story here… but it was one thing he said that allowed my own thoughts to combine and fall into place. He was asked why, after years of homelessness and mental and physical pain, he walked through the doors of the Glasgow Homelessness Network (GHN) office? His reply was he’d seen an advert for GHN with the words “by the community, for the community”. Finally, these were the words that I was looking for, the last piece of my jigsaw!

But it’s easy to say words, the real effort comes in delivering and that’s why we’ll take Derek’s words and use them as a principle for ALISS. We’ll use the principle; that people in a community are best placed to know what’s best for that community, in the development of our new approach to finding and sharing great local information that supports health and wellbeing. Because the reality is that people’s lives can be positively impacted by having access to information that’s up to date, easily accessible, easily understood and relevant to their needs and aspirations. ALISS is the way to create the link between people’s needs, their strengths and their local community or community of interest. Our new volunteering programme seeks to bring all this together.

Now I’ve a confession to make here, we’re going to use a method that’s tried and tested, where a community of passionate and considerate people get together and care about up to date, accessible and easily understood information. Now you may have heard of Wikipedia, and if not, it’s just the biggest and most successful collaboration of global citizens who have volunteered their time and energy to make sure that the information they care about is as best as it can be. This voluntary crowdsourcing of information and knowledge is not the future, it’s here. You just need to check out websites like BBC microvolunteering and Galaxy Zoo to see that this approach is becoming the new norm in volunteering. That’s why we’re launching our new approach to volunteering.

Our volunteer crowdsourcing programme will:

  • Make it easy to volunteer; if you only have 5 minutes spare you can help your community by “adding great local activities and services that mean something to you and you would love other people to know about”.
  • Value the principle that the people who work in local activities and services and the people who use them are the best people to know about them.
  • Offer you different ways to contribute to your local community.

But most important is that by opening up the information on services and activities that can help you live well we get a wider range of views on the quality and suitability of the activities on ALISS and get real local experience to help make the information the best it can be. So if you’re asking yourself the question; how will they get people to volunteer to help keep local information up to date?

Let me describe my volunteering: I volunteer to help keep local information up to date and I spend between 10 – 30 minutes each week volunteering. I volunteer on the train, at home or anywhere I choose; I volunteer for Google Maps as a “Local Guide”. I check and update local information in and around Falkirk. Why? Because I want people who use Google Maps to discover the places that I like. So when you realise that today there are 17,500 “Edinburgh Local Guides” or let’s just call them what they really are, volunteers helping Google Maps keep local information up to date I see real possibilities for ALISS and our passion to help make great local information open to all.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this, follow us on Twitter @ALISSProgramme or if you want to get involved drop us a message at

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