This week's Councillor Column is written by Lorna Douglas, SNP councillor for Helensburgh Central.

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PEOPLE in Helensburgh and across the country marked the annual Volunteers Week from May 31 to June 7.

This has surely been an exceptional year for volunteering. Many volunteers have had to stop during lockdown due to Scottish Government guidance for Covid-19 – yet for everyone that has had to stand down, countless more stepped forward to offer their help, not only to maintain services that our community are already reliant on, but to enable new Covid-19 support and services too.

Volunteering is not only about helping out an organisation or service. It’s also about individuals that have just taken it upon themselves to volunteer to get shopping for someone, reaching out for advice on how best to support a neighbour or friend, picking up the phone to see how someone is doing, or simply volunteering a smile as you move out to socially distance someone in the street.

READ MORE: On the road with Visiting Friends as charity's volunteers help people in isolation

For some people, positives will no doubt have come out of this experience. However, for many the experience of lockdown may seem far from positive.

In particular, those in our community who are dealing with illness, bereavement and grief, financial difficulties and insecurity or relationship tensions and mental health issues.

There have also been challenges for our key workers and people working remotely, as well as parents trying their best to home school and for some, balance remote working at the same time.

There are also many people in our community in transition. We have primary pupils moving to secondary school and secondary pupils leaving for work, apprenticeships, college or university and others who do not yet know their path. We have college and university students moving on hopefully into new future careers and at the other end of the scale, people retiring from lifelong careers.

READ MORE: How vital volunteer help is keeping Helensburgh's mental health hub running during lockdown

All of these people in our community have been unable to have their rite of passage farewells or celebrate their achievements – for now at least.

Lockdown has been, and will continue to be, a tough time for many in our community, even with a gradual easing.

Whether your experience in lockdown is positive, negative or a bit of both, we have all managed to get this far and will continue to do so, as best we can. Be kind, and whenever you can, volunteer a smile.

READ MORE: Catch up with all the latest news headlines from around Helensburgh and Lomond here