Scotland’s voluntary sector celebrated at annual awards ceremony

The winners of an annual awards ceremony dedicated to recognising Scotland’s voluntary sector were announced tonight (1 October) in a glittering online event hosted by Sally Magnusson live from the EICC.

Run annually by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), the Scottish Charity Awards celebrates the best of the voluntary sector and this year’s shortlist included 47 individuals and organisations from charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups across the country.

The winner of each of the nine categories was decided by a judging panel, with the tenth People’s Choice category winner decided by the public, with over 12,000 votes cast. As a result this year one finalist received both the Charity of the Year and People’s Choice Awards!

The winners for 2021 are:

Campaign of the year – Stop It Now! Scotland – Get Help or Get Caught

Child Sexual Abuse impacts one in six children in Scotland and targeting offenders is one of the most important ways of tackling abuse before it happens. As a result of the ‘Get Help or Get Caught’ campaign over 79,000 people visited the team’s website and 185 people accessed specialist self-help resources designed for people who are worried about their own online behaviour towards children and young people.

Stuart Allardyce, Director Stop It Now! Scotland said: “We’re thrilled to have won Campaign of the Year for our #GetHelporGetCaught campaign – thank you so much. As a child protection charity, our aim at Stop It Now! Scotland is to prevent children from being sexually abused, whether that’s online or offline. Child sexual abuse affects one in six children across the UK, and the number of adults posing a threat to children is growing. Our campaign is one way to tackle that problem, by telling adults who are offending or who might offend about the harm they cause, the consequences, and the support our helpline and website provide to stop their illegal behaviour.”

A special commendation was given to Aberlour Children’s Charity – Aberlour Urgent Assistance Fund.

Volunteer of the year – Central and West Integration Network – Shawn Nicholas Fernandez

Shawn wants to be a role model for both BAME and disadvantaged communities. He successfully made an impact in communities across Glasgow by delivering Cyber Crime Prevention Awareness Workshops and also creating a space through a community gardening project to help refugees by encouraging them to spend more time in nature to benefit their mental health and wellbeing.

He said: “I am extremely overwhelmed and proud to be part of Central and West Integration Network and a special thanks goes to all the Staffs and the beautiful volunteers who are always working unconditionally without expectations. By winning this award, I hope it will be an eye opener and encouragement for other volunteers especially those that are socially excluded. Nothing is impossible if we put our minds to it. Every organisation should recognise their volunteers and their contributions to the community because they are the cornerstone and should be rewarded. Circumstances in life may not always turn out the way we want it to be. Life may not be as smooth as we want it to be. But hard work, dedication and perseverance goes a long way. Thank you.”

A special commendation was given to Bob MacKenzie from CACE (Cumbernauld Action on Care of the Elderly)

Pioneering projectScottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs – Click and Deliver Naloxone

Over the last ten years, nearly 10,000 families in Scotland lost a loved one through drug-related death. Naloxone is a life-saving medication that reverses opioid overdose, providing vital time to call an ambulance. The team at Scottish Families recognised the need for access to this vital medication and launched a unique national Click and Deliver service, providing training and free Naloxone by post to any adult in Scotland. From May 2020 until March 2021, the team issued 295 kits, potentially saving 295 lives.

CEO Justina Murray said: “We are absolutely delighted to win the Pioneering Project Award. This life saving project was set up in a matter of days, at the height of lockdown and we are so proud of it. Our colleague Suzanne Gallagher has done an awe inspiring job of running this service from her front room, delivering 743 kits and counting. Thanks also need to go to Kirsten Horsburgh and our friends at Scottish Drugs Forum for everything they have done to help create and promote this service.”

Employee of the year – Carers Trust Scotland – Nicola Bell

Nicola has achieved a huge amount in the last 12 months. Working with young carers, she set up #Supermarkets4Change, campaigning to raise awareness of unpaid carers with supermarkets to include young carers in the protected hours set aside for vulnerable people to shop. This work, led to those young people nominating her for the Scottish Youth Parliament Support Worker of the Year Award, which she went on to successfully win. Resources she produced for professionals and young carers on the topic of supporting carers through a whole family approach have been so well received they are being translated into other languages by European carers organisations to use in their own countries.

She said: “I am so honoured to have won Employee of the Year! I would not be here without the support of the amazing Carers Trust Scotland team and the Scottish Young Carers Services Alliance. To all the incredible young carers & young adult carers – thank you! I feel very proud to work with such inspiring colleagues, services and young people each day.”  

A special commendation was given to Fiona Mitchell from Harlawhill Day Care Centre.

Community Action – Cumbernauld Resilience

Cumbernauld Resilience was established in March 2020 as a community-based response to the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic. It united people from all over Cumbernauld from a diverse demographic to reach out and help their neighbours. The team has over 120 volunteers who have freely given their time, expertise and commitment to distribute over 90,000 meals and other essentials to locals – even hosting Christmas celebrations for over 600 people!

Chair Tony Murphy said: “As a relatively new charity, we are humbled and delighted to have been recognised in this way. We are especially delighted to have won in the Community Action Category as, from the outset, Cumbernauld Resilience’s ethos has been about mobilising the wonderful community spirit that exists in our town to help those in need.    

Thank you so much to every supporter, donor and volunteer – without your unbelievable support and unselfish commitment we really wouldn’t have been able to reach out and help so many in our community during their hour of need.”

Climate ConsciousForth Valley Sensory Centre – Making Sense of Energy Saving

The project helped  people cut their energy bills, despite the pandemic, but also secured new heating systems, warmer home payments and even new windows for a number of deaf and blind people who were struggling to heat their homes and pay their bills. On top of this, with the change to LED lighting in the centre and the advice provided to centre users in braille, workshops, accessible video and BSL, it saved the equivalent of 300 tonnes of CO2.

Chief Executive Jacquie Winning said: “This award covers two of the biggest issues in today’s society, accessibility and the climate emergency. Thank you to everyone who supported us and to the staff at our Centre for making such an innovative project come to fruition!” 

Trustee of the yearLinkes (SCIO) – Robert Smith

Robert is the co-founder and driving force of Linkes community project (2006), serving as chairperson to promote integration, empowerment and social inclusion. In response to the pandemic, he was visionary and determined, quickly building alliances to set-up a food distribution project. Between March – September 2020, Robert’s team of volunteers delivered a whopping 18,000 meals and 2,000 grocery packs. Since October he has also overseen logistics of a weekly food-hub. Robert makes the magic happen, whether he is running board meetings, bulk buying food, driving the van, supporting new volunteers, making friendly phone calls– he is an unstoppable force for good.

He said: “I am absolutely delighted to receive this award. It’s not something I expected as the other finalists have all achieved incredible things and I’d like to congratulate them on their work. I would also like to thank the amazing team of staff, board and volunteers at Linkes, our partners and funders and everyone else in the community who contributes to what we do. I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved in what has been an extremely difficult year and on behalf of the team at Linkes, I’d like to say a big thank you for this award.” 

A special commendation was given to Julia Grindley from Edinburgh School Uniform Bank.

Digital citizens – People Know How

People Know How believe in the inextricable link between social and digital isolation and the pandemic has only reinforced that view. Over the last year the team has provided devices, digital skills and connectivity to thousands of people across Edinburgh and East Lothian. In doing so, the team has helped people stay connected with loved ones, access support and home-school their children. Throughout this work they identified that the biggest obstacle to digital inclusion is data poverty, which is why they have now launched a national campaign to end data poverty.

Claudia Baldacchino, Communications & IT Officer, said: “It’s an honour to have been awarded the Digital Citizens Award. We’re so proud of our volunteers and staff for achieving so much over the last year, supporting thousands of people with devices, digital skills and connectivity. We’d also like to thank all our partners and funders who have made this work possible through their support and collaboration. We will continue to combat data poverty and digital exclusion as we recover from the pandemic and beyond, and can’t wait to see what the future brings.”  

A special commendation was given to Space – The Louise Project.

Charity of the year AND People’s Choice Award – Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity (ECHC)

Covid-19 has been a rollercoaster for everyone; no less for children and families in hospital and those privileged to support them. Innovation and dedication from supporters, partners, staff and volunteers saw support for children shielding at home, in wards and waiting rooms continue through the tightest regulations and a hospital move. From emergency care packs, silent discos, inflatable octopuses and record-breaking fundraising appeals, ECHC has excelled to ensure children in hospital are children first, patients second, even in a global pandemic.

Victoria Buchanan said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be named Charity of the Year and People’s Choice winner at the Scottish Charity Awards 2021! Through the tightest Covid restrictions and a hospital move; ECHC was privileged to stand alongside those ill, injured and shielding at home. From emergency care packs, silent discos, giant inflatable octopuses and record-breaking fundraising appeals, we pulled out all the stops to continue to bring fun, comfort and friendship to wards and waiting rooms and ease worries during one of the toughest years families have faced. None of this would have been possible without the incredible dedication of our supporters, partners, staff and volunteers. This award is recognition of their phenomenal efforts to ensure children in hospital could be children first, patients second, even in a global pandemic.” 

A special commendation was given in the Charity of the Year category to Scran Academy SCIO.

Anna Fowlie, Chief Executive of SCVO, said: “At SCVO we know that fantastic work is going on all the time in the voluntary sector and we were delighted to celebrate the achievements and successes of our finalists and winners at this year’s Scottish Charity Awards. We had a record-breaking number of entries this year and each one demonstrated just how well the voluntary sector has responded and adapted to changes and restrictions over the past 12 months. Thanks to our sponsors, the team at the EICC, our host Sally Magnusson and everyone who applied and voted for making this year’s Awards so special. Congratulations to our winners for 2021!”

Find out more about all this year’s finalists.

You can watch the ceremony on YouTube at: