• 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.

    Never Mind the Football – the Midlothian Volunteer Awards are Coming Home!

    It’s been a month since the 2021 Midlothian Volunteer Awards ceremony took place online, and we are pleased to say that we have now managed to get the trophies and certificates into the hands of all our wonderful award winners and nominees. Here are a few pics of the trophies being handed over. It was a pleasure to work with everyone involved in the awards and to meet the winners in person. We look forward to doing it all again in years to come.

    Well done and thanks again everyone – winners AND nominees!

    Members of Art Club’s ‘Amazing Brains Committee’ receiving their Covid-19 Community Award.

    Ellie and Holly from the Midlothian Breastfeeding Alliance accepting the MBA’s award for voluntary work related to Health and Wellbeing.

    Gina from the Penicuik Ambassadors, who won the ‘Volunteer Team of the Year’ award. Gina was able to come to the Glencorse Centre with her daughter to collect the award at the same time as the MBA.

    Ricky Lloyd from Dalkeith Rugby Club accepting his award for Active Volunteering. Chris Boyle also jointly won this award for his hard work alongside Ricky.

    We wonder who got to take the award home!

    A member of the team from Food Facts Friends receiving the organisation’s certificate of nomination for the Covid-19 Community Award. Heather Mortimore from Food Facts Friends won the ‘Outstanding New Volunteer Award’.

    We delivered the certificate and trophy on the same day that some of the other trophies were handed over in the Penicuik area. Unfortunately, Heather wasn’t there at the time of drop off, but we hope she liked it when she got it!

    Samantha Gough, winner of the Saltire Summit Award for her dedicated volunteering with the children and families charity, Bright Sparks.

    We think Bramble the teddy looks very happy snuggling up with Samantha.

    Joseph Burke, Midlothian’s ‘Volunteer of the Year’ 2021. Joseph won this award in recognition of the outstanding volunteer work he has done over the past 18 months on behalf of local mental health charity Health in Mind.

    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!

    Winners of the 2021 Midlothian Volunteer Awards announced

    Penicuik Ambassadors, Volunteering Team of the Year

    To celebrate Volunteer’s Week 2021, Volunteer Midlothian held an online awards ceremony on the 3rd June attended by around 150 people. The ceremony was very different to the one we’re used to at Newbattle Abbey College, nonetheless it was still filled with love and admiration for Midlothian’s volunteers.  Many congratulations to all our hard-working winners this year, and to all our nominees – you’re simply the best, and you are ALL worthy of recognition!  

    The winners of the 2021 awards are as follows: 

    • Outstanding New Volunteer: Heather Mortimore from Food Facts Friends 
    • Befriender/Mentor of the Year: The Connect Project Volunteers from Volunteer Midlothian 
    • Active Volunteering: Chris Boyle and Ricky Lloyd of Dalkeith Rugby Football Club 
    • Health and Wellbeing Award: The Midlothian Breastfeeding Alliance 
    • Dedicated Service: Colette Pye from Mayfield and District Breastfeeding Support Group 
    • Covid-19 Community Award: The Amazing Brains Committee at Art Club 
    • Volunteer Manager of the Year: Naomi Knights from the Connect Project at Volunteer Midlothian 
    • Saltire Summit Award: Kyle Anderson, Eva Hesketh-Laird, Louise Gillespie, Melissa Reidie, Samantha Gough 
    • Volunteer of the Year: Joseph Burke of Health in Mind 
    • Volunteering Team of the Year: Penicuik Ambassadors 

    You can read more about all our nominees and winners here.  

    Thank You to Our Sponsors!

    If you’ve been keeping up with our recent news, you’ll be aware that every year in Midlothian we run a volunteer awards ceremony during Volunteers’ Week from the 1-7th June. The ceremony is an opportunity for us to say a huge thank you to all of Midlothian’s volunteers. However, we also need to say thanks to another important contributor – the people that help to make the awards possible in the first place. 

    We are grateful to have received sponsorship for seven of this year’s award categories from local organisations. Without the input of our sponsors, the Midlothian Volunteer Awards would be a much less exciting affair! As the circumstances do not permit us to offer our thanks in person, we want to show our appreciation digitally, to let others know that our sponsors really are amazing and very generous. 

    The award categories and sponsors are listed below.  

    Outstanding New volunteer – Scottish Fire and Rescue Service 

    Befriender or Mentor of the Year – Police Scotland 

    Active Volunteering Award – EDF  

    Health and Wellbeing Award – Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership 

    Dedicated Service to Volunteering – Esk Valley Rotary Club 

    Covid-19 Community Award – Midlothian Council 

    Volunteer Manager of the Year – Scottish Qualifications Authority 

    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.

    Volunteer Midlothian ‘Where’s the Bear?’ Competition Launches TODAY!

    Amber and the as-yet nameless bear!

    Volunteer Midlothian are running a ‘Name the Bear’ competition for primary schools in Midlothian starting TODAY, Monday 24th May. Our little furry friend is the mascot for the Midlothian Volunteer Awards, an annual ceremony that takes place during Volunteer’s Week at the beginning of June.

    The bear will be travelling around Midlothian over the next 11 days, visiting different beauty spots and places of interest, then popping up every day on Twitter using the hashtag #wheresthebear 

    Followers will be encouraged on Twitter and Facebook to guess the bear’s location. At the end of its journey on 3rd June, the bear will gain a new name voted for by participants at the Midlothian Volunteer Awards ceremony. The chosen name, based on entries from local primary school children, will win £100 for the school and will get to keep the bear!  

    The mascot competition is part of a campaign to increase awareness of Volunteers’ Week 2021 and to boost Volunteer Midlothian’s following on social media. We are keen for lots of people to join in and follow the bear on its travels. This is the first time Volunteer Midlothian have run a digital campaign, so YOUR help in making it a success is much needed! Please tell other local people about the bear, especially any families you may know whose children might want to have a go at naming the bear via the school they attend. All local primary school head teachers have been sent information about how to enter.

    For more information about how to take park contact Miriam at Volunteer Midlothian.


    Welcoming a new face thanks to the Kickstart Scheme

    We’re delighted to be part of the Kickstart initiative, created as part of the government’s coronavirus response to provide paid employment and career support to Universal Credit claimants aged 16-24. Fraser Waugh started with us this week thanks to Kickstart – we have also discovered that Fraser is a former Volunteer Midlothian volunteer! Over to Fraser to introduce himself:

    Hi, I’m Fraser Waugh, 23, from Penicuik. I have just begun my new role at Midlothian Voluntary Action. After many months of job searching, including sending away 55 applications, CVs, covering letters and nearly 18 months out of full-time employment; I am very pleased to be now working in a sector I am passionate about. I am eager to promote the amazing projects that are happening in and around Midlothian. So, a bit about me:

    My earlier years before MVA

    • After I left school, I went to Forth Valley College in Stirling to complete an HND in Media and Communications
    • Then worked at Ikea Edinburgh for over 2 years
    • Recently I finished my studies at Queen Margaret University in 2020, gaining a BA (Hons) in PR, Marketing and Events right at the start of the pandemic!
    • Now that I have a Kickstart role, I’ll receive on-the-job training and gain some valuable transferable experiences that will allow me to continue in a communications role.

    What volunteering have I done?

    I’ve volunteered in Midlothian – mostly when I was at high school, but throughout my life too:

    Volunteer Awards at Newbattle Abbey College
    Volunteer Awards at Newbattle Abbey College
    • Assisted in the start-up of the Beadazzling jewellery store in Dalkeith as part of Volunteer Midlothian’s Ready for Retail Project. I also created original jewellery designs such as earrings, bracelets and necklaces, helped run workshops and craft fair stalls, and was a retail assistant. This project was also recognised for all the hard work we did at the Volunteer Awards at Newbattle Abbey College. I was also part of another Volunteer Midlothian befriending project, a ‘Sew Crafty’ craft group designed to match up young people with older members of the local community. We knitted, made cards, a bit of jewellery making and any other craft skills that the lovely ladies knew!
    • From doing the Sew Crafty craft group and Beadazzling I gained an ‘Ascent’ Saltire award.
    • I starred in a film project in collaboration with Screen Education Edinburgh on behalf of MYPAS Thinking Differently. We were taught all aspects of filmmaking and created a film on the theme of alcohol abuse. This was filmed on location in Dalkeith and screened at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh. You can watch it here.
    • I have also been in Scouting since I was six – now I’m a Cub Scout Leader in Penicuik and an Explorer Leader in Bonnyrigg.
    • On the theme of scouting, I won the senior category in the south of Scotland’s regional district Rotary Club’s National Young Writer’s Competition. The finalists were invited to a presentation at Waterstone’s in Glasgow. Bill Daly, the Scottish crime writer, and Alistair Marquis (District Governor) gave us certificates in recognition for our writing.
    National Young Writer Competition Presentation
    National Young Writer Competition

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

    • At MVA there will be a lot of scope for me to get involved in different projects and initiatives – promoting these causes and making a difference appeals to me.
    • The third sector, volunteering and charities especially make a massive contribution to society and it is an industry where there is a lot of transformative work happening.

    What advice would I give to people who want to volunteer? And those who are job searching and looking to ‘stand out’ in applications?

    • GET IN TOUCH with your local volunteering provider! Particularly due to the Covid-19 pandemic a lot of charities/other non-for-profit organisations need as much help as possible.
    • Volunteering is great for your mental health and career prospects – this was the case for me! Your job prospects increase a lot as you are helping your local community and learning a lot of different skills in another context outside of work. The opportunities are endless and help you stand out!

    My future plans?

    What I hope to get out of my time at MVA is to gain valuable charity experience that will allow me to continue in a communications role in the third sector. With the experience and training I hope to receive from this role, I’d love to eventually become a brand strategist in a PR or marketing agency creating and implementing strategies for a range of different clients and brands.

    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.

    Midlothian Volunteer Awards 2021: Nominees Announced

    We are now able to share the list of confirmed nominees for the 2021 Midlothian Volunteer Awards, which will take place during Volunteers’ Week from 1-7 June. It’s looking likely that we will run an event on the evening of Thursday 3rd June to announce the winners, so keep an eye out for further updates about this.

    The standard of nominations has been very high this year and we have also had a lot of interest in the awards. This reflects all the extra voluntary activity we’ve seen as part of the Covid-19 resilience response in local communities, but also the amazing work that has taken place across the third sector as a whole throughout the pandemic.

    All of the nominees are listed below. The full list of Saltire Summit nominees will be announced later on in April. Well done everyone – you are all fabulous!

    Outstanding New Volunteer  

    • Heather Mortimore (Food Facts Friends) 
    • Andrew Love (CAPS Collective Advocacy) 
    • Kathryn Gordon (Home Link Family Support) 
    • Katrina Drennan (Penicuik Ambassdors) 
    • Beth Fyfe Falconer (Volunteer Midlothian – Transform) 

    Befriender Mentor   

    • Joseph Burke (Health in Mind) 
    • Alzheimer Scotland Telephone Companions
    • Amanda Gillespie (Home Link Family Support)   
    • Connect Project Volunteers (Volunteer Midlothian) 
    • Colin Pow (Health in Mind) 

    Active Volunteering 

    • Rebecca Lewis (Riverfly on the Esk)
    • Holly Gibb (Breastfeeding Café) 
    • Mirabelle Maslin (Roslin and Bilston Community Council) 
    • Chris Boyle and Ricky Lloyd (Dalkeith Rugby) 
    • Dalkeith Guerrilla Gardeners 
    • Ageing Well (Midlothian Council)

    Health and Wellbeing  

    • Anam Cara Befriending Team
    • Art and Craft in Wellbeing Group (Health in Mind) 
    • Midlothian Breastfeeding Alliance
    • Green Prescribing Garden Buddies (Cyrenians)

    Dedicated Service  

    • Jim Paterson (Food Facts Friends) 
    • Connect Online (Volunteer Midlothian) 
    • David Thornton (Health in Mind) 
    • Colette Pye (Mayfield and District Breastfeeding Support Group) 
    • Maggie Palmer (Home Link Family Support)  
    • Jim Ralston (1st Loanhead Boys Brigade Company) 
    • Penicuik Community Development Trust

    Covid-19  

    • Vernon Miles (Community Activist – Environmental Clean Up) 
    • Grant Stanley (‘Our Stars Family’ on Facebook ) 
    • Amazing Brains Committee at Art Club 
    • Food Facts Friends 
    • Gorebridge Resilience Partnership  
    • Penicuik Ambassadors 

    Volunteer Manager  

    • Mark Wells (Food Facts Friends) 
    • Michael Huddleston (Alzheimer Scotland) 
    • Monika Dyczko (Health in Mind) 
    • Naomi Knights (Volunteer Midlothian) 
    • Shondra Riley (Made in Midlothian) 

    Saltire Summit Award

    • Kyle Anderson
    • Eva Hesketh-Laird
    • Louise Gillespie
    • Melissa Reidie 
    • Samantha Gough

    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

    Volunteers’ Week Awards 2021: New Award Categories Video

    We’ve put together a second video following on from the one we released last week about the Midlothian Volunteer Awards. This latest video offering tells you more about the categories that volunteers can be nominated for and who the award sponsors are.

    Both individual volunteers and teams can be nominated for all of the categories except the Saltire Summit and the two ‘Of the Year’ Awards, which are instead judged from all the nominations put together. This means that every nominee has two chances to win an award – so all the more reason to nominate!

    You can watch our other video and read our Awards FAQ’s on our Volunteer’s Week Awards web page.

    We hope you like it and that those of us who prefer to ‘watch’ rather than ‘read’ also find it helpful. Please share widely so that as many people as possible know about the awards and can get thinking about who deserves to be nominated. Thanks!

    Check out our new Volunteer Awards Video Guide!

    We have put together a video guide to accompany the FAQ’s information for the Volunteers’ Week Awards. We hope that this will be a useful accompaniment to the written information on the website.

    We will also be releasing a second video next week explaining more about the categories for nomination. You can also go to the Volunteers’ Week page on our website to view the video and get more information.

    We hope you find it helpful. If so, please share widely with others who may be thinking of nominating. Thanks!