• Author: James Coutts

    Midlothian Volunteer Awards 2022 – Winners

    The Midlothian Volunteer Awards are all about celebrating the amazing efforts of volunteers in Midlothian. The awards take place every year during Volunteers’ Week (from the 1-7th June) and are a great opportunity to promote some of the fabulous volunteering projects that exist in Midlothian.

    Congratulations to this year’s winners (full details here).



    Jim Hiddleston

    Nominated by: Wellbeing Essentials

    Jim Hiddleston is a long-standing and well-known volunteer in the Roslyn area, however his recent involvement with the new social enterprise ‘Wellbeing Essentials’ has included some incredible work during the latter stages of the Covid pandemic. As part of this project Jim helped to drive forward eight different new start-up initiatives throughout 2021 including the Roslin Rustie Walk, Roslin’s Loving Local Now and Rosslyn Community Bowling Club. Jim’s contributions have made a big impact in Roslin and he is a very valued member of the local community.

    Ageing Well volunteer Team

    The Aging Well Volunteer Team have done a tremendous job this year supporting people over the age of 50 – many with long term health conditions – to lead a more active lifestyle. Throughout Midlothian the volunteers offer 45 activities each week including health walks, new age curling, dance and other sports. The peer support they provide is key to the success of Ageing Well. All 58 volunteers act as valuable role models to encourage others to take better care of their own health and wellbeing. Volunteers are very loyal to the project and one has been with the project from the very beginning, for 22 years! With over 4000 hours given to the project in the past year alone, Ageing Well volunteers are a dedicated, enthusiastic group of very special people.

    Nominated by: Ageing Well Midlothian

    Lynn Pillans

    Nominated by: Rosewell Development Trust

    Lynn Pillans is a gardening volunteer who supports various projects at The Steading and in the surrounding areas of Rosewell. Lynn welcomes new gardening volunteers and is always thinking of ways the experience can be enjoyable and inclusive for all. As a former landscape gardener, she happily passes on her knowledge to others. Lynn was instrumental in developing a sensory garden for the community with raised beds and scented/tactile planting. Other volunteers are always excited to see what ideas she comes up with. Her latest additions to The Steading include a living wall, a living picture and a very creative planting arrangement incorporating a step ladder.

    Justyna Rachowska

    Nominated by: Health In Mind, Peer Connecting Black and Minority Ethnic Communities, East and Midlothian

    Justyna Rachowska joined Peer Connecting Black and Minority Ethnic Service (Health In Mind) in 2018. She not only provided companionship and emotional support, but engaged people in their local communities, helping them to increase their confidence and find their feet. Justyna has a great understanding of cultural and language barriers. She is adaptable, passionate, motivated, helpful, empathetic, and proactive. She always has a positive attitude and is there ready to provide support in different ways. Over the years she has helped many Health in Mind clients integrate with local communities so that they can make friends and feel accepted. Her input has made a huge difference to others.

    Agnieszka Czarnecka

    Nominated by: Health In Mind, Peer Connecting Back and Minority Ethnic

    Agnieszka Czarnecka joined Peer Connecting, Black and Minority Ethnic (Health In Mind) in 2019. Since then, she has supported several different people with protected characteristics, offering emotional support, signposting them to other services and helping them to connect with others in their local community. During the pandemic she provided telephone support to people who were isolated and in need, giving her time very generously to ensure that nobody was left behind. Agnieszka is a very caring and empathetic person. Her input has helped people to feel welcome in Midlothian and she is a very valued member of the team at Health in Mind.

    Joanna Haba

    Nominated by: Home Link Family Support

    Joanna Haba has been volunteering since 2020 and is currently supporting her second family with Home Link Family Support. Joanna is bi-lingual, speaking both Polish and English, meaning that she has been able to help provide interpretation. In recent months Joanna has been assisting the family she is matched with (especially mum) to get involved in some systemic family counselling, also through Home Link. Joanna has made a significant difference to the life of this mother. As the focus of the relationship has changed over time, Joanna has worked in a very compassionate way with the mother to help her through the difficulties she has experienced.  She has shown immense commitment to this family and has been unwavering in her support for them.

    Anna Maxwell

    Nominated by: Home Link Family Support

    Anna is one the youngest Volunteers at Home Link Family support.  She began her training with us in May 2021, and was placed with her first family just 6 months later, to focus her support on the emotional wellbeing of a mother who cares for her two children with additional needs, whilst having her own health challenges. Anna has been supporting this mother on a weekly basis by phone or face-to-face meetings ever since.  These occasions provide an opportunity for this mother to share her thoughts and feelings, about the various challenges and experiences she has had during the previous seven days.  She has supported this Mum impeccably, and listened and responded to Mum’s concerns, health issues, returning to work worries, and anything else that Mum has wanted to discuss with her.  Anna has responded to her emotional needs and encouraged her to keep going when things are tough.

    Yvonne Carruthers

    Nominated by: Meal Makers (Food Train Scotland)

    Yvonne Carruthers is a Meal Makers volunteer cook. Her role is to cook an extra portion of her home-made meal and share that with her diner, an older person in her local community. This means access to better nutrition and helps to prevent malnutrition for the recipient. In doing so, Yvonne also provides companionship, friendship, and a means to assess the need for any additional support. Yvonne and her dog Lily have been paired with Moira since September 2017, originally cooking for Moira’s husband Bill as well, until his death, sadly, in 2019. During the pandemic Yvonne also supported a second diner for four months, as well as making check-in calls to 15 diners to help prevent loneliness and isolation. The general expected time spent with a diner is 30 minutes, but Yvonne often spends a lot more than this, giving Moira her undivided attention.