• Category: Befriender or Mentor of the Year and Digital Volunteering

    Maria Cheam (Volunteer Midlothian)

    Nominated by: Volunteer Midlothian

    We particularly admire Maria’s commitment as a Volunteer Befriender and the selfless support she has provided comforting and assisting individuals whilst bringing laughter and joy into people’s lives.

    Alister Ballantyne (Health in Mind)

    Nominated by: Health in Mind

    It is clear from Ally’s nomination that he has a very long history of volunteering within Midlothian, most recently with Peer Connection Midlothian. It is clear that he invests his time and energy building long lasting relationships to support people with mental health conditions. Over and above 1-2-1 support, Ally has also devoted his time to supported fundraising for Peer Connecting Midlothian, and again has shared his extensive experience to help guide applications to the Midlothian Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund. It is obvious that Ally is regarded as a much loved and valued mentor who should be celebrated with this award.

    Friday Friends (Volunteer Midlothian)

    Nominated by: Volunteer Midlothian

    We particularly admire and value this excellent example of intergenerational relationships being used to build confidence and better understanding of the challenges faced by younger and older generations, whilst having what appears to be a whole lot fun.

    Alan Paterson

    Nominated by: Thornton Rose Riding for the Disabled (RDA)

    Alan Paterson has been a member of Thornton Rose Riding for the Disabled (RDA) since 2019. His sense of humour and kindness have made him a firm favourite with participants of all ages.In the stable environment he helps participants and their carers to groom and stroke the horses and spend time practicing their deep breathing to relax and rebalance their emotions. Alan made a big difference to one of our teenage attendees who lacked positive male role models in his personal life. Alan provided this young man with a safe place to express himself and to talk about his feelings. This is what the young volunteer said about Alan: ‘Alan encouraged me to never give up. Alan is a good volunteer. Alan is kind. Alan listens to you. Alan speaks to you. Alan made me independent. Alan encourages me to not misbehave when I’m with the ponies.’

    Connect Project Team

    Nominated by: Volunteer Midlothian

    A volunteer from the Connect Project is matched with a member of the older population who has been identified as socially isolated in the Midlothian community. The contribution that Connect volunteers make to the lives of those they are matched with is huge. The befriending process often acts as a ‘safety net’ by maintaining a strong and regular connection with someone in the community who is in a vulnerable situation. Clients find it invaluable speaking with someone who is not a close friend or family member. The work of the Connect volunteers has helped to ensure that older people in Midlothian are less isolated and better supported.

    Connect Online Volunteer Team

    Nominated by: Volunteer Midlothian

    The Connect Online Volunteer Team has been running for nearly ten years. Volunteers work with older people to increase their skills and confidence using digital technology. Learners are supported with whatever device they have including mobile phones, laptops, tablets and smart tech such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Queries often arise about topics such as scam texts and e-mails, which can cause significant financial harm if prevention measures are not put in place. The volunteers support participants to block numbers, set up spam filters and report phishing to banks or other organisations. In doing so, the Connect Online Volunteer Team are helping to promote digital safety and reduce the likelihood of cybercrime.

    Siobhan Nelson

    Nominated by: Midlothian Council Communities, Lifelong Learning and Employability (Adults and Families)

    Siobhan Nelson launched the Midlothian Free Share Facebook page in December 2021. This popular online group enables people in Midlothian to give unwanted items away for free. Siobhan allows local businesses to advertise on the Free Share page and this encourages people to buy locally. Among the most frequent posts are those offering children’s clothes and furniture. On one occasion a person moving into a new flat without anything at all was able to furnish their flat through the kind donations of local people. The project is raising people’s awareness about recycling and reducing waste and it is tackling poverty in Midlothian. The site is inclusive and friendly because of Siobhan’s can-do attitude, tenacity, and community spirit.

    Gail Denholm

    Nominated by: Home Link Family Support

    Gail Denholm began training as a volunteer with home Link Family Support in August 2020 during lockdown. She has shown outstanding commitment and dedication to the role, making sure the family she works with have food and clothing. She has demonstrated great listening skills and empathy but has also helped with practical tasks such as gardening. She is currently assisting a family to declutter and pack, ready for a long overdue move to a larger property. She has gone the extra mile on several occasions, including taking numerous car loads of rubbish to the tip. Gail’s input has enabled clients to grow in self-confidence and to become more resilient.