• Author: James Coutts

    Preparing for winter

    Winter can be a hard time for older people – from trying to stay warm to dealing with dicey pavements. With Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership we’ve published a newsletter to help older people make the best of it.

    Our Winter Newsletter provides tips on wellbeing, heating bills, staying social and is full of useful links to local organisations.

    Forward Mid, who represent the interests of disabled people in Midlothian have also released their December newsletter with details on how to stay safe over the festive period. Free copies can be picked from the MVA office, in Midlothian libraries and online.

    Let’s all stay connected and help each other through this challenging winter.

    Social Enterprise in the Spotlight: Penicuik Carbon Challenge

    With the UN Climate Change conference (Cop26) happening in Glasgow from Sunday 31 October to the 12th of November, Fraser Waugh caught up with Rene O’Reilly at the Penicuik Carbon Challenge (PCC) to talk about all things eco-friendly, sustainable, and how this project aims to educate residents on how to lead more eco-conscious and less wasteful lives.  

    How did PCC get started?

    The Storehouse Penicuik sells goods that are good for people, the community and for the planet, always ethically sourced and local as possible. Everything we sell uses small-scale suppliers and short supply chains to ensure sustainability and traceability. Through this, and our customers shopping with us, we aim to be a pivot point in enabling people to live a more sustainable life.

    What are some of the responsibilities you have at the PCC?

    I deal with the zero waste lifestyles portion of Penicuik Carbon Challenge i.e. bicycles re-makery, the tool library, eco art classes, fixing and repairing normal everyday household objects, use surplus food to supply to Food Facts Friends and am involved in a variety of other community projects as well

    Crochet crafts at PCC!

    How does someone go about volunteering at the PCC? What roles could they get involved in?

    They can come to us directly at our premises in Penicuik town centre where they can share their ideas and what they are most interested in, so that they can share their skills and expertise with others who come in asking about getting help with that specific service that PCC offer.

    It’s all own the volunteer’s own terms- if they want to do something we don’t currently offer we can facilitate this. And we are very open to suggestions- we have a space for this on sticky notes at the front our place on John street.

    Tell us how you seek to be a hub for the community?

    We see our location in the town centre as a marketing tool because it is essential for people to know more about what we do at PCC. By engaging with the community in this way at our premises we talk to a wide range of people that we wouldn’t usually, therefore widening our audience and opportunities for promotion.

    What can people get involved in?

    This is our autumn programme of activities which will be updated with new events taking place in the future, here’s what you could expect:

    PCC’s Autumn Programme of Events- more to follow in the future!

    When people come into PCC they often ask if we would take…?

    And the answer usually is yes! We do even if we haven’t taken anything in like that before! We take everything and anything, we’ll find a way to reuse/recycle it to be as useful as possible- to give it a second life. It is all about learning to repurpose seemingly useless items.  These could be donations of bikes, tools, electronic goods that we have a specialist that PAT tests for us, materials for art classes etc.

    *****

    As Rene has mentioned the PCC’s mission is to enable people to live more sustainable lifestyles within Penicuik and the surrounding areas. This is in parallel to two of Cop26’s goals- adapt to protect communities and natural habitat and working together to deliver climate change targets. Penicuik Carbon Challenge achieve this by adjusting people’s habits, working together and getting them active in the natural environment- all reducing their carbon footprint and taking steps closer to net zero targets.

    Social Enterprise in the Spotlight: Mayfield and Easthouses Development Trust

    The green shoots of community-led regeneration are bearing fruit in Mayfield. Mayfield and Easthouses Development Trust (MAEDT for short), is showing how local communities can address social issues such as poverty and loneliness while also helping to combat climate change. MAEDT used the lockdown period to incubate two social enterprise projects that are already bringing benefits to local residents. First, they have transformed the old pavilion and bowling green in Mayfield Park into a beautiful café, meeting space and community garden. With the help of a new staff team including Phil (pictured below) and local volunteers, the garden is now bearing its first crops of fruit and vegetables. These are available to customers for a small donation.

    The Pavilion café is open for lunches as well as teas and coffees. It also has meeting rooms and an outdoor shelter that can be hired for all sorts of community events. People interested in volunteering are encouraged to drop into the garden and have a chat with Phil. The project will also be part of Midlothian’s first Green Prescribing programme, through which local GPs and other NHS health practitioners can informally ‘prescribe’ some clients to get active in their community in order to support recovery and improved health. 

    MAEDT has also opened Midlothian’s first community Food Pantry. The Pantry, which aims to help members make their money go further and support local households out of food poverty, is open to people who live in Mayfield and Easthouses. Since opening, it has already gained more than 200 members who can shop once a week.  Each shop costs £3.50 and members can purchase food, toiletries and other household essentials, typically worth up to £15.00. Warris (pictured below) and his team of volunteers are keeping the pantry well stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables from the

    garden, donated from the local Tesco at Hardengreen and through a partnership with Mark Murphy Total Produce Group   As well as non-perishable goods second-hand school uniforms and winter coats for children are also available. The Pantry is located at MAEDT’s office in Bogwood Court and is open Tuesdays and Thursdays 10-2 and Wednesdays 1-6.

    To launch these projects, MAEDT has secured grants from Midlothian Council, National Lottery Community Fund, the Supporting Communities Fund and the DTAS Pockets and Prospects Fund, as well as smaller amounts from Foundation Scotland, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Greenspace Scotland, and the Mushroom Trust. There have also been donations from the Co-op, Scotmid and the Jafaria Foundation in Easthouses. Income through trading activities will help sustain the projects as they grow. 

    Sharon Hill, Trust Manager, is looking forward to what the future will bring for MAEDT and the community: 

    We have plans to move and develop as our customers feedback to us.  We can already see how the Pantry can grow and change with time and member involvement, and the possibilities for growth in the garden and pavilion are almost endless.  It’s an exciting time for us and we are grateful for the support of our volunteers, members, customers, funders and partners.” 

    Welcome to our new graduate intern

    I’m Jill Bunyan, 24, from Glasgow. I recently started my new role at Midlothian Voluntary Action as a Social Justice and Financial Inclusion Graduate Intern. I’m thrilled to start my graduate career in the third sector, and excited to support MVA’s work over the coming months. Here’s a bit about me: 

    Before MVA 

    • Due to a change in career plans, I took a year out between school and university, during which I worked two jobs and volunteered in my free time  
    • I went to the University of Strathclyde and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Scots Law. I also spent a semester at the University of Copenhagen as part of the Erasmus Programme 
    • I quickly realised that going down the path of training as a solicitor wasn’t for me. Instead, I chose to pursue my passion for environmental law and undertook a Master’s Degree at the University of Edinburgh in Global Environment and Climate Change Law. I graduated in 2020  
    • During my time at university, I worked in several part-time jobs in hospitality and as a student ambassador. I was also the treasurer for Erasmus Student Network Strathclyde in my 4th year, and treasurer for the Postgraduate Law Society during my Master’s  
    • Prior to joining MVA, I worked in the family business as an Administrative Assistant while applying for graduate roles.  

    What volunteering I have done 

    • I am on the Steering Group for Young Friends of the Earth Scotland (YFoES). Through YFoES, I was part of a youth organisation collaboration to organise Scotland’s Youth Environment Hustings in the lead up to the Scottish elections. Currently, I am working with others to deliver our campaign objectives for COP26
    • I am on the committee for Get Glasgow Moving. It is a grassroots network and we are campaigning for a fully integrated, accessible and affordable public transport system in Glasgow. Most recently, I did the voice-over for our new campaign video  
    • I have been a volunteer for the Children’s Hearing System for six years  
    • I worked as a sustainability research volunteer for People and Planet. My role was to help gather data to contribute to the production of the 2021 People and Planet University League Table, which ranks UK universities on their environmental and ethical performance 
    • During high school, I volunteered at my local RSPB Nature Reserve and my local wildlife rescue centre as part of fulfilling the requirements of the Duke of Edinburgh Award.  

    Why did I want to work for MVA and in the third sector? 

    • By working for MVA I will be able to network and engage with different partners and organisations. This will allow me to learn from a wide group of individuals with expertise on tackling social justice issues who share the same values and help me effectively contribute to MVA’s projects.  
    • The third sector is well positioned to influence and create change that will improve people’s lives and I wanted to be part of that.  

    What advice would I give to those wanting to volunteer? 

    Volunteering is a great opportunity to get involved in a cause that you are passionate about, or the opportunity to try something completely new.  Don’t be embarrassed if the first one (or few) you try don’t work out or aren’t the right fit for you. There are so many worthy organisations out there that are looking for volunteers. Volunteering demonstrates your commitment to a cause and enables you to develop skills and knowledge that you can apply in your professional career. It’s also a chance to meet new people and make friends. 

    Advice for those job hunting and how to stand out in your applications  

    • Talk about your interests/hobbies and what you are passionate about! This shows a bit of your personality and helps you stand out 
    • Research the company/organisation. Make sure you understand their ethos and values and incorporate this into your application. This demonstrates interest in the company, and not just the position 
    • As exhausting as applying for jobs can be, don’t give up, and keep working on personal development.  The right opportunity is around the corner. 

    My future plans 

    This role will provide me with a good introduction on how best to support and coordinate projects to tackle social justice issues, providing me with skills and experience that I can take forward. I’m passionate about tackling climate and marine environment issues, and collaborating with others to protect our natural world. I would love to work for an international NGO, working in policy and research, to work towards achieving climate and social justice.  

    Who contributes the most to volunteering in Scotland?

    We’ll be exploring ‘Who contributes the most to volunteering in Scotland?’ in a free seminar on 7 September 2021. 

    Matthew and Debbie, from Volunteer Scotland, will share findings from their research published in January 2021. Using data from the Scottish Household Survey related to volunteering frequency and intensity, their analysis challenges our understanding of volunteer engagement across different demographic groups including age, gender, deprivation, income, education and health.

    This seminar will be of interest to anyone working in volunteering policy and practice – particularly those looking to promote the development of grassroots volunteering activity in Scottish communities.


    Social Enterprise in the Spotlight: The Storehouse, Penicuik

    Fraser Waugh recently caught up with Aglaia Kempinski, the Community Development Manager at the Storehouse in Penicuik to talk about all things eco-friendly, organic, and how this store aims to take its customers on a sustainability journey. Let’s get our teeth (pun intended) into finding out all about The Storehouse:

    Tell us about your mission
    The Storehouse Penicuik sells goods that are good for people, the community and for the planet, always ethically sourced and local as possible. Everything we sell uses small-scale suppliers and short supply chains to ensure sustainability and traceability. Through this, and our customers shopping with us, we aim to be a pivot point in enabling people to live a more sustainable life.

    Tell us more about what is on offer at the Storehouse
    • A refillery within the shop for essential and organic produce, so customers only buy what they need and refill when they need to, vastly reducing plastic waste. This includes household supplies such as washing up liquid and shampoos/conditioners
    • We now have our café area back up and running serving freshly made cakes, toasties, sandwiches and hot drinks amongst other tasty treats to takeaway as well
    • Many shelves filled with fresh, organic fruit and vegetables, drinks, fresh meat and dairy, dried goods, and household supplies
    • A fruit and veg box scheme that can do deliveries within the local area
    • Locally- crafted gifts such as knitted goods, cards, jewellery and accessories
    • We now have a second-hand bookshop in store, catering to all genres and readers of any age.

    Penicuik Storehouse

    Tell us how you seek to be a hub for the community?
    We are a community-owned and led social enterprise with close relationships with our local customers and volunteers. We want the Storehouse to be a focal point not just for shopping but for community activities and learning.

    Volunteering is really important to us. It is all about volunteers building skills and providing an experience that customers will want to continue to be a part of and come back to. It’s a great place to develop skills that can be used in any retail capacity.

    The store is also all about giving back to nature as we take away from it. We have a gardening section within the store, where left-over seedlings can be donated, and ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables are sold instead of going to waste.

    How does someone go about volunteering at the storehouse? What roles could they get involved in?
    This is mainly a volunteer lead shop so volunteers could be doing a variety of different roles within the store- what you put in is what you get out of it! To get involved or if anyone requires more information, please contact hello@penicuikstorehouse.org

    The Penicuik Storehouse is open seven days a week, Monday to Saturday: 9:30am – 5:30pm and Sundays 10:30am – 3:00pm in Penicuik town centre. Make a small change to make a big difference!

    Third Sector Growth Fund: One to Watch Out For

    The Scottish Government’s Third Sector Growth Fund will provide loan funding of £30 million to social enterprises and charities in Scotland. The fund aims to help the sector access new forms of investment in order to grow. It also seeks to support our sector to recover from the pandemic and become more sustainable.

    Further details about the Third Sector Growth Fund, including what types of social enterprises and charities will be eligible for the funding, and details of how to apply, will be published later this spring. Check here for more.

    Melissa Reidie

    Organisation: Girlguiding Scotland and Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts

    Melissa has shown an impressive commitment to volunteering, having completed four years in a leadership role for Girlguiding Scotland as well as inputting 477 hours for ‘Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts’ in Leith.  Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts takes surplus food and turns it into free healthy meals for people in need. The charity produced 409,751 meals from March-December 2020. Melissa gives 100% to her volunteering roles and, as a result, is highly regarded by those that know and have worked with her. Her contribution has been outstanding, and she is a real inspiration to others. Well done, Melissa! 

    Louise Gillespie

    Organisation: Salvation Army and Y2K in Mayfield and Easthouses

    Louise has shown real commitment to volunteering, achieving over 400 hours of Saltire certification by dedicating three days of her time each week to The Salvation Army Shop. This is in addition to the contribution she has made as a volunteer with Y2K. Despite being a naturally shy individual, Louise has been determined to not let this stand in the way of helping and motivating others. She is a truly incredible individual who puts others first and would be a very deserving winner of the Saltire Summit Award.

    Eva Hesketh-Laird

    Organisation: Glencorse Centre and Penicuik Storehouse

    Eva has put in a significant number of hours of volunteering, initially for the Glencorse Centre in Auchendinny and more recently for the Storehouse in Penicuik. A truly versatile individual taking on lots of roles, Eva has made a big impact and clearly wants the Storehouse to be the best it can possibly be. Her commitment, enthusiasm, and creation of ideas for improvement show how Eva strives for excellence for both the organisation and the customers it serves. She is a great asset to the Storehouse and to the wider community in Penicuik.

    Kyle Anderson

    Organisation: Loanhead Lego Club and Zoom Minecraft groups

    At just 16 years old, Kyle stands out as a truly inspirational young volunteer. He has shown real initiative in creating and delivering the Lego Club and, latterly during the pandemic, Zoom Minecraft clubs for children and young people. Kyle quickly realised that the Zoom sessions he was running were about more than just Minecraft. Indeed, they were also about reducing loneliness and isolation, positively impacting on the mental wellbeing of the other young people involved. Kyle’s dedication has been remarkable. He sets a brilliant example to other young would-be volunteers.

    Samantha Gough

    Organisation: Bright Sparks

    Samantha is a truly remarkable individual who has shown great dedication as a young volunteer. Not letting Covid-19 get in her way, Samantha has remained busy and motivated throughout the pandemic so far. She has put new ideas in place, delivering weekly ‘Bingo, Quiz and Craft’ sessions, as well as helping with food donations for children with disabilities and their families receiving support from Bright Sparks. Having attended Bright Sparks herself from the age of 18 months old, she has gone on to show loyalty and appreciation by giving back a phenomenal number of hours as a volunteer. The level of commitment this young woman has shown is truly impressive. Samantha would be a very worthy winner of a Saltire Summit Award.

    Naomi Knights

    Nominated by: Volunteer Midlothian

    Naomi coordinates the ‘Connect’ project at Volunteer Midlothian and has done so for the past three years. She is a dedicated volunteer manager who does her utmost to ensure that her volunteers provide a great service when supporting isolated older people in Midlothian. Naomi was quick to shift the Connect project into a telephone befriending format when the pandemic and lockdown were announced. She is extremely committed to the people she supports (both clients and volunteers), has a strong ‘social conscience’, and is always one of the first to anticipate potential changes that might impact on her service.

    Penicuik Ambassadors

    Nominated by: Midlothian Council Communities and Lifelong Learning.

    Penicuik Ambassadors played a critical role in providing support to the community during the 2020 lockdown and continue to do so today. Volunteers provided vital services such as social support, shopping and delivery of prescriptions to those who were shielding. Busy group members also led initiatives such as starting a mask making group, opening a lending library and running a school clothing bank. The Ambassadors have been instrumental in facilitating the localised response to Covid-19 in the Penicuik area. They have proven themselves to be an incredibly active and committed group of resilience volunteers.

    Winner: Volunteering Team of the Year