• Author: placement

    Scottish Government proposes charges for volunteers’ PVGs. 

    What’s Happening? 

    Disclosure Scotland has opened a proposal to introduce fees for volunteering. They plan to remove the current fee waiver and apply a  fee of £28 for volunteers to join the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme membership (this is a 60% reduction on the proposed standard fee of £70). If implemented, this will have a huge impact on volunteers and volunteer involving organisations. 

    Disclosure Scotland are also making changes to the Disclosure (Scotland) Act 2020. As part of this, the PVG membership scheme will become a legal requirement for those in ‘Regulated Roles’, this could mean that even more people will need to be signed up to the PVG scheme, thus more people will be affected by the fee proposal. 

    Our Stance 

    • We believe volunteering should be free for everyone. Volunteers give their time and effort to help others and asking them to pay to do so is insulting.  
    • At a time when we are in a volunteer crisis and volunteer numbers are steadily falling, this only puts up more barriers to volunteering. Many organisations rely on volunteers to do important work, and adding fees will make it harder for them to recruit volunteers. 
    • The implementation of this fee goes against core values and meaning of volunteering. The Volunteer Charter from Volunteer Scotland mentions, “No one should be prevented from volunteering due to their income.”. 

    What You Can Do 

    Now is your chance to speak up. We are conducting our own survey to examine the impact  implementing fees for PVGs could have on volunteers and volunteer involving organisations: 

    ALSO, we strongly encourage you to submit your views to the VSDS online consultation. They will use this feedback to decide whether to go forward with these fee structures. Your responses are crucial. 

    Submit your views now before the consultation closes on Tuesday 28 May. 

    You do not need to answer every question, however we urge you to answer the ‘discount for volunteers’ section. The two questions are as follows: 

    Question 6 – Do you agree with the proposal to move to a fee discount structure for volunteers in QVOs? 

    [Yes / no / don’t know] 

    Question 7 – What information do you think we need to consider when proposing moving to a fee discount for volunteers in QVOs? 

    [Free text] 

    We think Question 6 is ambiguous and could be interpreted in different ways. We recommend you do not to answer this question, and instead write your full response under Question 7

    Spread the Word 

    Share this information with your colleagues, friends, and anyone else who might be interested. Together, we can make sure volunteering stays accessible for everyone. 

    To learn more about changes to the Disclosure (Scotland) Act 2020, visit www.disclosure.gov.scot/changes

    National Lottery Funding – Briefing Blog

    MVA recently held a National Lottery Funding Briefing to provide third sector organisations with an update on some changes the National Lottery are making to their funding streams.

    Community Led, Improving Lives, and Cost of Living Support Scotland will close on the 21st August 2024. Applications will still be accepted until that date and assessed as usual. For further details you can contact your NL Funding Officer.

    New streams of funding will come online at the end of the year, but no date has been confirmed yet. They will likely fall around these four priority areas.

    Supporting communities to:

    • Come together
    • Be environmentally sustainable
    • Help children and young people access resources and experiences that help them thrive
    • Enable people to live healthier lives

    National Lottery Awards for All, Young Start and Scottish Land Fund will remain open to applications with no closing dates.

    Please do contact MVA if you would like support in applying to any of these funds before they close. The Development Team would be more than happy to review applications or provide advice about other potential sources of funding. See more about the support we can provide here.

    Contact us at info@mvacvs.org.uk or call our office, Monday – Thursday, on 0131 663 9471.

    Slides from this briefing can be viewed here:


    ALISS (A Local Information System for Scotland) Training Recording & Recap

    We recently held training alongside Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland & Midlothian Council to help organisations in Midlothian learn more about ALISS (A Local Information System for Scotland) and how they can utilise it efficiently.

    These training sessions were popular, but don’t worry if you missed out! You can watch the recorded training session here:

    ALISS Training session presented by Cameron MacFarlane, ALISS Programme Engagement and Insights Manager at the Alliance.

    We’ve also written up a brief overview, if you need a refresher:

    What is ALISS?

    ALISS is a digital tool operated by Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (The Alliance) that allows groups and organisations to find or share information on local resources, services, groups, and support.

    Why should you use ALISS?

    ALISS allows you to share services, activities, and resources that help;

    • Enable social connection
    • Assist people to self-manage their long-term conditions
    • Support outdoor or physical activity
    • Access digital technology

    Outside websites and directories pull information from ALISS, these include:

    The information they use is automatically updated when it’s edited on ALISS.

    How do you use ALISS?

    There are different ways to use ALISS:

    • To search for information
    • To upload information
    • For community mapping
    • For signposting
    • For creating your own directory/ embedding on your website

    When searching for information, it’s helpful to utilise the search filters.

    How do I add to ALISS?

    There are three main ways to get information on ALISS:

    • Basic Account – Good for one-off events/ postings, information approved by ALISS
    • ALISS Editor – Good for posting in bulk, doesn’t need to be manually approved by ALISS
    • Claimed Organisation – Claim your own organisations information, take responsibility to ensure it is accurate and up to date. Edits don’t need approval from ALISS

    ALISS for Alexa

    ALISS can now be used on the Amazon Alexa app and voice devices. By using voice commands, like “Alexa, search My Scottish Community for walking groups.”, those with low digital literacy or who may have a physical condition or disability, can stay connected to their communities and access the support they need when they need it most.

    For more information, and how to set it up check out these articles:

    Connecting communities through voice activated technology – Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (alliance-scotland.org.uk)

    Amazon.co.uk: My Scottish Community: search ALISS for support : Alexa Skills

    Don’t want to miss any more MVA training sessions?

    Keep an eye on our website, or our Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages.

    Boogie & Arlene Want You… To Nominate For The Midlothian Volunteer Awards 2024!

    NOMINATIONS CLOSE NEXT WEEK for the 2024 Midlothian Volunteer Awards! 🎉

    The Midlothian Volunteer Awards take place each year, and are all about celebrating the amazing efforts of volunteers in Midlothian. This celebration is a part of Volunteers’ Week, where we appreciate people’s kindness across the whole of Scotland. It is a great opportunity to promote some of the fabulous volunteering projects that exist in Midlothian.

    Please ensure you read the FAQs here before you submit.

    A big thank you to Boogie & Arlene from Forth One for helping us get the message out!


    If you have any questions, email info@volunteermidlothian.org.uk

    Nominations Open for the 2024 Midlothian Volunteer Awards!

    Nominations are now open for the 2024 Midlothian Volunteer Awards! 

    The Midlothian Volunteer Awards take place each year, and are all about celebrating the amazing efforts of volunteers in Midlothian. This celebration is a part of a national initiative, where we appreciate people’s kindness across the whole of Scotland. It is a great opportunity to promote some of the fabulous volunteering projects that exist in Midlothian.

    Please ensure you read the FAQs here before you submit.

    Nominations will close on March 22nd, so submit them soon.

    If you have any questions, email info@volunteermidlothian.org.uk

    A Fresh Start for The Midlothian Climate Action Network – Meet The Team!

    The Midlothian Climate Action Hub is delighted to confirm that our staff recruitment is now complete and the community-led Hub Steering Group has been formally elected!

    Meet The Team

    Ian Malcolm, Hub Manager

    Previous to his new role as the Hub Manager, Ian was the Coordinator for the Midlothian Climate Action Network and played a key role in the successful funding application to the Scottish Government that enabled the formation of the staffed Hub. 

    Naomi Knights, Community Engagement Officer

    With an environmental background, Naomi has experience in environmental education and supporting the development of the community garden network across Scotland. Naomi has been working as a Volunteer Coordinator with Volunteer Midlothian – running a befriending project for the past several years and is familiar with communities and organisations throughout Midlothian.

    Bruno Santos, Community Engagement Officer

    Bruno joins the Hub team from Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, where he coordinated the Climate Fringe online platform, as well as a Scotland-wide community-led climate festival. He is currently the Logistics officer for the Edinburgh Climate Festival and has been active in various projects around migrant rights, food justice and climate action in the past.

    The Hub Steering Group

    On the same day final interviews for the Hub’s team were taking place in Dalkeith last December, the members of the Hub’s Steering Group were being formally elected in Penicuick.

    Community group members enjoy a meal after the conclusion of staff interviews and election of the Hub Steering Group
    Community group members enjoy a meal after the conclusion of staff interviews and election of the Hub Steering Group

    The Midlothian Climate Action Hub’s newly elected steering group members include:

    • Julian Holbrook, Chairperson from Damhead Climate Action
    • Julia Pennycuick from Midlothian Wildflowers 
    • Douglas Strachan from One Dalkeith Community Development Trust
    • Chris Sydes from Penicuik Community Development Trust
    • Sharon Hill from Mayfield & Easthouses Development Trust
    • Jenny Maddalena from Rosewell & District Community Council 
    • Xica Dabin-Debono from The Glencorse Association 
    Our chair, Julian Holbrook, signing the Terms of Reference for MCAN

    What’s next for the Midlothian Climate Action Hub?

    The Hub’s early priorities for this year will be focused on understanding local needs and reaching out to local groups.

    This includes a mapping exercise to fully understand the needs, challenges and ambitions of Midlothian’s community groups and organisations, and how they can best be supported and empowered. To support this activity and introduce the Hub to the local communities, four outreach events will be taking place across Midlothian in February and March.

    We will release information on these very soon, so make sure to keep an eye out and follow the Hub’s brand new social media!

    To get in contact with Midlothian Climate Action Network, email them at hub@midlothianclimateaction.org, or visit their website here.

    Article authored by Bruno Santos.

    Leap into the New Year with our 2024 Volunteer Recruitment Fair!

    Volunteer Midlothian is thrilled to announce the return of their Volunteer Recruitment Fair! Following the success of last year’s event, 2024’s fair promises to be even more engaging and impactful. The event will take place on Thursday 29 February, from 10am to 2:30pm, at the St John’s and Kings Park Church in Dalkeith. It guarantees to be an unmissable opportunity for aspiring volunteers. 

    It’s not too late to make volunteering your New Year resolution 

    As this leap year grants us an extra day, Volunteer Midlothian urges everyone to harness this extra time to leap into action and consider the benefits of volunteering. 

    1. Personal Growth: Engaging in volunteering encourages you to step out of your comfort zone, fostering personal development, and have fun in the process! 
    1. Community Connection: Volunteering brings people together, nurturing a sense of belonging and unity within communities. It can help you create strong bonds and make friends from all walks of life. It is a great way to gain confidence and social skills by meeting new people. 
    1. Mental and Physical Well-being: Research consistently shows that volunteering can positively impact mental health by reducing stress and enhancing overall well-being. It also encourages an active lifestyle, benefiting your physical health too! 
    1. Professional Development: Volunteering is a prime source for gaining hands-on experience, honing existing skills, and broadening your professional network. It can significantly boost your CV or applications to further education. 
    1. Making a Meaningful Impact: The opportunity to contribute to causes you care about is one of the most compelling reasons to volunteer. It’s a chance to effect positive change and feel good about how you spend your time. 

    What opportunities are there? 

    Whether it’s mentoring, environmental work, or community outreach, there’s a place for everyone to make an impact. At the Volunteer Recruitment Fair, there will be a variety of organisations with information stalls displaying a range of volunteering opportunities. 

    Some participating organisations include Equal Futures, Forth Rivers Trust, VoiceAbility, NHS, Girlguiding Midlothian, and many more! 

    Join Us! 

    Whether you’re a seasoned volunteer looking for your next venture or an aspiring volunteer with no clue where to start, mark your calendar for Thursday 29 February, from 10am to 2:30pm. Spend your extra day of this leap year making positive change!  

    Take the leap, make a change, and kick start your volunteer journey this year. 

    Applications open for CMHWB Micro Grant

    Are you a community group looking for funding?

    Year 3 of Midlothian Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund for Adults launched in the end of September 2023 distributing over £246 thousand to third organisations and community groups. It has already seen many successful applications for larger projects. There is a small fund of £7800 to support micro grant applications, to be distributed by the end of March 2024. The Fund aims to support people’s good mental health and wellbeing and to provide opportunities to connect with others in local community.

    Local groups are invited to apply for funding from £200 up to £2500.

    Known as “the Sunflower Fund” the funding has a strong emphasis on collaboration, partnerships, capacity building and the development of creative projects that can work at a grassroots level, together with local people. All these to ensure outcomes are inclusive and have maximum impact on a local level. In Midlothian the fund had been overseen by a team of staff and volunteers from the TSI, Midlothian Council, Health in Mind, and Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership. The Lived Experience Working Group from Health in Mind will be assessing the funding applications. 

    Fund enquiries should be directed to Magda Clark magda@volunteermidlothian.org.uk by 26 February 2024.

    Read more about the Midlothian Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund here.

    Midlothian Third Sector Interface

    Success for a Midlothian Climate Action Hub

    Members of the Midlothian Climate Action Network are thrilled and making plans to celebrate after the Scottish Government confirmed that their application for grant funding for a staffed Climate Action Hub in the county had been successful. The Hub will support a collaborative effort focused on community-led climate action and adaptation within the region.

    Funding Success

    Funding of nearly £75,000 has been secured for the remainder of 2023-24 while more significant grant support for 2024-25 is agreed in principle only at this stage pending final agreement on the Scottish Government budgets for that year. However, the Scottish Government’s advice has been to recruit staff for both this year and next with that caveat. The application was made by a partnership involving Network members and Midlothian Voluntary Action, the local Third Sector Interface based in Dalkeith. The Network seek to obtain incorporated charitable status for the Hub during 2024-25. In the meantime, it is very happy with the partnership with MVA.

    Ian Malcolm, who has been acting as coordinator of the Midlothian Climate Action Network since June, said:

    “This is very welcome and exciting news for Midlothian and its communities. The Hub is a community-led initiative to encourage local community groups to achieve their climate action ambitions, through training and sharing and learning from each other through events and collaborative projects.

    Climate action takes many forms; in environmental protection, community gardening and food growing, encouraging and protecting green spaces and increasing biodiversity. It encourages walking and cycling, helps reduce food and fuel bills in times of need, encourages community wellbeing and provides positive and inclusive opportunities for the local population. It’s all good.”

    Lesley Kelly, Chief Officer of Midlothian TSI was equally delighted:

    “The application to the Scottish Government had to come from an incorporated body such as our own and we were only too pleased to offer our support. So much of what is planned chimes with our goals to create positive opportunities and outcomes for the people of Midlothian, particularly those on low incomes and suffering most from the cost of living and energy crises. The more we can do to help communities support each other through these difficult times, the better.”

    Councillor Dianne Alexander, Midlothian Council said:

    “Midlothian Council fully endorses the community-focused funding received for a Midlothian climate change action hub. The hub will be immensely important to bring our communities and people together to work with us as we move forward on our journey towards net zero.”

    The Hub will employ three members of staff in the first instance: the Hub Manager, and two part-time Community Engagement Officers working directly with and encouraging local community groups. The staff will be based in the MVA office in Dalkeith. The employing body will be MVA while the strategic direction for the Hub will be provided by a Hub Steering Group to be elected from the Network’s community groups.

    Early actions by the Hub will include opening the first round of a communities’ seed funding grant programme and delivery of four roadshow events across the county region. These and other workstreams will increase awareness and understanding of climate change, provide sharing and learning opportunities and showcase and promote positive community efforts.

    The application to the Scottish Government was supported by our local MP and MSPs, Midlothian Council and the Midlothian Community Planning Partnership. The partnership is grateful to SCCAN (Scottish Community Climate Action Network) and to the Scottish Government for their support.

    Apply to join the cause!

    The jobs are currently being advertised on Goodmoves:

    This is an exciting time to be involved in community-led climate action and for the successful applicants to make their mark at local and regional levels and to influence policy and decision-making at national level.

    For further information about the jobs please contact Lesley Kelly at lesley.kelly@mvacvs.org.uk, or call 0131 663 9471.

    The Midlothian Hub is one of a number of regional hubs being supported by the Scottish Government across the country. In addition to their work in Midlothian, the Hub Manager will play an active part in the Scotland-wide Hub network, attending monthly meetings, quarterly Stakeholder Working Group meetings and enabling opportunities for learning across the regions.

    Challenge Poverty Week: Uniting Against Poverty In Midlothian

    We are more than halfway through Challenge Poverty Week and we want to highlight what’s been happening in Midlothian to unite against poverty and what we are doing at MVA and across Midlothian in the longer term to tackle poverty in the community.

    In the face of the Cost-of-Living Crisis and with councils facing budget challenges, it seems appropriate that we introduce Challenge Poverty Week (CPW) and what it stands for.

    What is Challenge Poverty Week?

    Challenge Poverty Week was launched in 2013 by the Poverty Alliance. It serves as a platform to raise awareness about the persistence of poverty in Scotland and its impact on people’s daily lives. Every October, Scottish organizations come together to stand against injustice and poverty. This year’s themes revolve around communities, volunteers, housing, adequate incomes, transport, and food.

    The Cost-of-Living Crisis and Its Impact

    The Cost-of-living crisis is affecting people across Scotland and is having an impact on the everyday lives of people. 70% of people in a recent Poverty Alliance Survey said that poverty in Scotland is very real today. In Midlothian specifically, households earning £40,000 or less are said to be feeling a more significant impact from the increased living costs. The number of crises grant applications and acceptances has almost doubled since 2013/14 with a rapid increase in 2021/22.

    Challenge Poverty Week in Midlothian

    There have been a number of events in Midlothian for 2023 Challenge Poverty Week. At MVA Lesley Kelly, our Chief Officer, spoke at a breakfast briefing on Monday talking about communities and volunteers, offering insight into fairer funding, policy asks and the impact the Cost-of-living crisis is having on organizations across Midlothian. Read more about the policy briefing here. We also offered extra volunteer drop-in sessions for people to find out more about volunteering opportunities. This is all part of the confidence experience to help people into employment. Organizations we work alongside with such as Dalkeith Citizens Advice Bureau  and Mayfield and Easthouses Development Trust have also run events.

    Our Long Term Goals

    Under our longer term goals to eradicate and tackle poverty, we want to let you know that under the 2023-2027 Single Midlothian Plan MVA & Volunteer Midlothian alongside other organizations are working towards ensuring no child or household is living in poverty by 2027. Also, that individuals and communities in Midlothian can have improved skills and health for work and general happiness in their everyday life.

    Alongside this, we are making a commitment towards net zero carbon emissions by 2030 which goes hand in hand with poverty eradication according to a report published by the Climate Environment Programme in 2015.


    Discovering the Kelpies with our Conversation Café

    At our beloved Conversation Café, the world comes alive through the magic of words. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning we gather together to discuss travels, explore geography, share cultural traditions, and immerse ourselves in local customs.

    This week, on the 2nd of October, a spirited group of learners embarked on an adventure to The Kelpies and Falkirk Wheel. The Kelpies beckoned us with their mythical charm, pulling us away from our usual gathering spot at The Salon. We also had a chance to take a closer look at the magnificent piece of engineering at the Falkirk Wheel, whilst sipping tea and keeping the conversation going.

    What awaited us was a day of pure delight, where laughter became our common language.

    On the journey, we introduced ‘travel bingo’ to keep the conversation flowing and played ‘spot the beetle’. Was it the elusive Volkswagen Beetle or a creature of the insect world?

    The best part is that the adventure doesn’t end here. Our learners are already planning another exciting day trip in the coming year. Let’s see where our conversations take us next…

    A special thanks to our generous funders, UK Shared Prosperity Fund, for covering all expenses. And, of course to Lothian Community Transport Service (LCTS) for ensuring our safe and comfortable travel.

    Drop in from 10am-11.30am on a Tuesday or Thursday at the Conversation Café to be a part of our journeys of discovery, connection and laughter.

    See more of our adventures on our social media pages: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.