• Author: James Coutts

    Rebecca Lewis

    Nominated by: Newbattle Abbey Community Woodland Ranger Service

    The Riverfly on the Esk Project involves sampling the South Esk river and looking at aquatic invertebrates to monitor water quality. Rebecca is involved with carrying out monthly surveys but also coordinates the other volunteer surveyors across three survey sites. She is looking to expand this scheme to include new sites along the North and South Esk rivers, and has also qualified as a volunteer trainer so she could share her expertise with other local surveyors. She is very enthusiastic – such a dedicated volunteer! She really drives the project forward.

    Colin Pow

    Nominated by: Health in Mind

    Colin provides one to one telephone support on a weekly basis for two people with mental health and addiction issues. He also attends a variety of Zoom groups and offers peer support to everyone who attends. Colin has gone out of his way to be welcoming and encouraging to people who are new to the groups. He has made a tremendous difference to the lives of the people he supports, especially those he engages with on a one-to-one basis.

    Amanda Gillespie

    Nominated by: Home Link Family Support

    Amanda is a volunteer befriender with Home Link Family Support (HLFS) who has supported two families this year. The one she has supported the longest has complex and changing needs but she has responded to this very flexibly. Amanda has had to adapt her support throughout this year of Covid lockdowns – she has visited and conducted socially distanced walks (when allowed), offered weekly phone contact and responded effectively to provide support in a very ‘family centred’ way. We applaud her for her excellent work with HLFS.

    Alzheimer Scotland Volunteer Telephone Companions

    Nominated by: Alzheimer Scotland

    Alzheimer Scotland Volunteer Telephone Companions make phone and video calls to people living with dementia and their carers in Midlothian. Each volunteer calls between 1-6 people on a weekly basis, helping to reduce social isolation and providing a meaningful, stimulating relationship. The volunteers have been a consistent point of contact, connection and care that has improved people’s mood, stimulated their mind, and safeguarded their general wellbeing throughout the pandemic so far.

    Beth Fyfe Falconer

    Nominated by: Volunteer Midlothian – Transform

    Connect Online provides digital support to older people, helping them navigate technology, maintain independence, keep in touch and feel part of things. Transform is a project for young volunteers with the aim of increasing their confidence and enhancing their employability prospects. During lockdown, Volunteer Midlothian brought these two projects together to achieve a more intergenerational focus. Soon afterwards Beth came forward as a digital champion. She attends groups every week to share her research and give guidance to the Connect Online project about new and emerging technologies. Beth has proven herself to be an outstanding and very committed young volunteer over the past 12 months.

    Katrina Drennan

    Nominated by: Penicuik Ambassadors

    Katrina is one of the volunteers who got involved with the Penicuik Ambassadors at the beginning of the pandemic as a shopper, befriender and prescription collector. She also co-leads for Penicuik Community Mask Makers, who make and deliver free fabric masks, and has supported the Penicuik Community Events Team in distributing Santa letters to local children. She’s had an amazing impact over the past 12 months and has proven herself to be a highly valued member of the local community in Penicuik.

    Kathryn Gordon

    Nominated by: Home Link Family Support

    Kate is one of Home Link Family Support’s (HLFS) team of volunteer befrienders. She is currently supporting an HLFS client to improve their spoken English skills via weekly bespoke Zoom lessons. Kate’s careful preparation and partnership with the client have been outstanding, leading to improved confidence and employability for the person concerned.

    Make a change in your community

    The COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the best in Midlothian communities. We’ve seen people banding together to look after neighbours and the environment. Now is time to think about the next steps and keep that energy going. Do you want to make change in your community?

    Midlothian Council’s Communities and Lifelong Learning Service and Midlothian Voluntary Action have created a free four-week introductory course to community changemaking which starts on 1 June 2021. The course will be led by Daniel Baigrie (Midlothian Council) and Rebecca McKinney (MVA), both with many years’ experience in community development and changemaking.

    Find out more about the course.

    Artists supported through youth arts programme

    Made in Midlothian, in partnership with Midlothian Voluntary Action, has selected seven freelance artists to deliver creative projects with young people across local communities.

    Funded by Creative Scotland’s Youth Arts Small Grants Scheme, the successful applicants are:

    • Adie Baako, West African Dancer of Akrowa UK
    • Ailis Paterson, Drama Facilitator
    • Annie Lord, Artist and Performer
    • Hannah Edi, Actor and Teacher
    • Laura Baigrie, Play Services Manager and Arts Practitioner
    • Lea Taylor, Professional Storyteller and Author
    • Mary Turner Thomson, Author.

    Each artist will shape their projects with young people taking the lead on what’s created. The programme will culminate in a showcase in March 2022 where young people will have a chance to display or perform their art. In addition to this, they will have an opportunity to list their art on Made in Midlothian’s online marketplace. 

    To learn more about their projects visit www.madeinmidlothian.com/mim-youth-arts-programme

    Good Governance in the Third Sector

    Moving your Board Meetings Online

    This month we’re publishing a series of blog posts to help organisations update their governing documents if needed, so online meetings can continue. Here’s the first blog written by our Deputy Chief Officer, Rebecca McKinney:

    Wiki Education board meeting June 2020 via Zoom by LiAnna (Wiki Ed) is licensed with CC BY-SA 4.0.

    The process for how your organisation holds board meetings and members’ meetings such as AGMs and EGMs will be set out in your governing document. In normal times, you must follow this process.

    In response to the Covid 19 Pandemic, some rules have been loosened to allow meetings to be held virtually even when this is not stated in your governing document. However, the rules are currently scheduled to revert back at the end of March, 2021. This means that if you want to continue having virtual board or members’ meetings, you may have to change your governing document. Here’s what to do next:

    1. Find your constitution or your articles of association and read the sections pertaining to the conduct of Directors’/Trustees’ meetings and Members’ meetings.
    2. Does the document specify that meetings may take place electronically or virtually?
    3. Or, does it have clauses stating that the meeting will be treated as taking place regardless of where participants actually are?
    4. Remember to check sections pertaining to both DIRECTORS and MEMBERS.
    5. If YES, you don’t have to make any changes to your governing document.
    6. If NO, read on:
    If your organisation is a SCIO or unincorporated charity, see these NEXT STEPS:

    1. Hold an AGM or EGM and pass a resolution to make the change to your constitution. Remember that this meeting must be quorate. At least two thirds of members who participate in the vote must agree to the change.

    2. Inform OSCR within three months that you have made the change, by sending their notification form and a copy of your amended constitution. You can find out more about how to do this here. Suggested text is available via SCVO. You will need to adjust the wording and clause numbering to match your particular constitution.

    Add immediately after clause 40: “40A. The board may make arrangements, in advance of any members’ meeting, to allow members to participate in the members’ meeting by means of a conference telephone, video conferencing facility or similar communications equipment – so long as all those participating in the meeting can hear each other; a member participating in a members’ meeting in this manner shall be deemed to be present in person at the meeting.”

    Amend clause 44: “44 Every member has one vote, which must be given personally; for the avoidance of doubt, a vote given by a member participating in the meeting through any of the methods referred to in clause 40A will be taken to be given personally for the purposes of this clause.”

    Add immediately after clause 86: “86A. A charity trustee may participate in a meeting of the board by means of a conference telephone, video conferencing facility or similar communications equipment – so long as all the charity trustees participating in the meeting can hear each other; a charity trustee participating in a meeting in this manner shall be deemed to be present in person at the meeting.”

    Amend clause 90: “90. Every charity trustee has one vote, which must be given personally; for the avoidance of doubt, a vote given by a charity trustee participating in the meeting through any of the methods referred to in clause 86A will be taken to be given personally for the purposes of this clause.”

    If your organisation is a Company Ltd by Guarantee WITH charitable status, follow these NEXT STEPS:

    1. Hold an AGM or EGM and pass a resolution to make the change to your Articles of Association. Remember that this meeting must be quorate. At least two thirds of members who participate in the vote must agree to the change.

    2. Inform Companies House of the change to your Articles within 15 days. You can find out how to do this here.

    3. Inform OSCR within three months that you have made the change, by sending their notification form and a copy of your amended constitution. You can find out more about how to do this here.

    Some sample statements you may insert into your Articles are:

    In determining whether directors are participating in a directors’ meeting, it is irrelevant where any director is or how they communicate with each other.

    or

    If all the directors participating in a meeting are not in the same place, they may decide that the meeting is to be treated as taking place wherever any of them is.

    And

    In determining attendance at a general meeting, it is immaterial whether any two or more members attending it are in the same place as each other.

    If your organisation is a CIC or Company Ltd by Guarantee without charitable status, follow these NEXT STEPS:

    Check your CIC Articles. It is likely that these already contain a clause enabling you to hold meetings in which all participants are not in the same place. In this case, you do not need to make any changes.

    If you do need to amend your articles, follow the same procedure as ‘If your organisation is a Company Ltd by Guarantee WITH charitable status’ above, but because you are not a charity, you will not have to inform OSCR.

    On 24 February we’re holding a free workshop for Midlothian third sector organisations that may need to change their governing document to allow virtual meetings.

    Virtual meeting best practice

    "Zoom meeting" by chericbaker is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0

    A poor internet connection, a frozen screen and Zoom fatigue are all problems that those of us taking part in video meetings have experienced during the pandemic.

    For all the downsides, video meetings have allowed some organisations to keep working under lockdown, and they can also be easier to attend for those with mobility issues or busy schedules. The technology reduces the costs of holding meetings, and businesses are now less dependent on office space.

    If your organisation wants to keep holding official meetings online or by phone (such as AGMs) after 30 March 2021, you may need to update your governing documents.

    Over the next three weeks we’re going to publish a series of blog posts that outline how to work out if you need to update your governing documents to allow for continued online meetings. We’ll provide some sample lines to use, and share case studies on what other businesses have learnt from holding meetings online. Topics we’ll cover will include how to manage online voting, preparing for those potential technical hitches and avoiding disruptive ‘Zoombombing’.

    Keep an eye on the news page over the coming weeks- follow us on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll let you know when the next post is live.

    On 24 February we’re holding a free workshop for Midlothian third sector organisations that may need to change their governing document to allow virtual meetings.